WATCH: Jane Robinson: Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders

For subtitles, click ‘CC’ in the bottom right of the screen.

Jane joins us to discuss her book ‘Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders’ in this video talk, filmed exclusively for Buckinghamshire Virtual History Festival. In an evocative talk, enhanced by imagery, we hear the stories of the pioneering women of the 20th Century who made it in the fields of law, architecture, engineering, and medicine – often at a personal cost.

Image References:
Ray Strachy, © National Portrait Gallery
Millicent Fawcett, Woman and Her Sphere blog
Helena Normanton, Women’s Library at the LSE​
Lady Rhondda, UK Parliament Art Collection​
Gwyneth Bebb Thomson, © Gwyneth Bebb’s family
Ida Mann, © Ida Mann, The Chase (1986)​
Miss Modern ad, Bodleian Library
Ads from Punch, Britannia and Eve, Miss Modern
Amy Johnson, © The Woman Engineer
Margaret Partridge, © The Woman Engineer
Gertrude Leverkus, © Leverkus Family
Gertrude Leverkus RIBA application form, © Rebecca Spaven/​
Gertrude Leverkus nursing home floorplan, © Leverkus Family
Gwyneth Bebb Thomson and baby, © Gwyneth Bebb’s family

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3 replies »

  1. Absolutely brilliant! This connected to me personally since I took my first degree at the Bartlett School of Architecture and, later, worked with WES for several years. Looking forward to reading the book. And, yes, I can climb ladders.

  2. One of the best talks I have ever heard – can’t wait to read the book. I now realise why medical school was so tough when I started in 1957 – I thought most of the battles had already been fought – I found out they were mostly still ongoing, and even today they are not fully won

  3. Thank you so much for this talk. I found it fascinating, inspiring and also very moving. My mother was born in 1919 and excelled at school. However, there was no careers guidance but my grandfather knew her well and suggested that she should become a veterinary surgeon. She attended the Royal Veterinary College in London, starting in 1937. I still have her notebooks etc from her course and the correspondence between my grandfather and the university about her entry.
    After the WW2 my parents were in practice together and my mother thoroughly enjoyed being a farm vet.

    I am really looking forward to reading the book.

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