Peter Abbott 2 - Bubbling up was a female desire to be on equal terms

    Peter Abbott

    In this clip Sir Peter talks about the changing attitudes towards sexual equality in the 1980s, and how his eldest daughter's desire to join the Navy as a helicopter pilot led him to reassess his own opinions.


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    Extract Text (Duration2.09)

    Simultaneously to Mrs Thatcher to being Prime Minister and people like me realising that actually you needed female leadership at times to get you out of a crisis, just as sometimes you need male leadership to get you out, it's whoever's best around at the time. But at the same time bubbling up I suppose, there was a general female desire to be on equal terms in all things and so this was beginning to run in to the services, and people wanted to start going to sea and doing things. I was not too immediately aware of that except for the fact that I had three daughters. The eldest of which was coming up to being 19, she would have been 20 in 1988 so she was going through the worst of her final teenage years in the mid to late 80s, and unbeknown to me had wandered of to a recruiting office and asked about the possibilities of joining the Navy as a helicopter pilot. So eldest daughter was told at the recruiting office that there was no possibilities of her becoming a helicopter pilot because women weren't allowed to do that in the Navy. She subsequently came back and asked me if this was the case to which I said, "Yes", to which she said, "Why?" Which left me flummoxed somewhat, because to answer intelligent eldest daughter by saying, "You can't join the Navy [as a helicopter pilot] because women never have," is an intellectually dissatisfying answer and especially because, you know, it's only a half a step from that to being countered with, "How is it that I can be Prime Minister but can't join the Navy?"