Interview with Jane Caro Part 2

Interview with Jane Caro Part 2

By dear molly

Do you think that women can have it all? A career, a family, a happy life? 

No one can have it all. But let’s be clear on what ‘all’ means.

For women, it means an interesting well-paid job and a family. That’s a man’s birthright. It’s outrageous. For men it’s simply an entry point but if women want or expect the same thing we are deemed ‘greedy’. We can change and as a society, we have to change because otherwise, we face generations of women living out of their car.

What do you feel is the biggest issue my generation will face in the future?

Climate change. I think my generation will be condemned for having done nothing. We were warned and we haven’t done anything. A lot of women and I mean older women are now very active and energised by climate change. We acknowledge there is an issue and we want to make a difference. I think they feel that if they don’t nurture the planet in which we live then everything else doesn’t really matter.  

Jamila Rizvi wrote a great piece recently about how to explain the gender pay gap to people who don’t understand it.  Why do you think that so many people, men in particular, simply refuse to believe in its existence?

Because they don’t want to believe in it. There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see. If a woman is taking on the majority of the caring, she has far less ability to work overtime and similarly earn bonuses. Men get greater bonuses because they work longer hours. Caring impacts a woman’s ability to earn an income. 

You’ve talked about the fact that women should: ‘Shout your abortion’. I would also suggest that women: ‘Shout their miscarriage’. These are important conversations that we should have openly.

Yes, they are very important conversations to have. There is no shame in it. The #metoo movement has taken the shame away from women which we carried for everybody. If someone behaved badly towards us, we felt shame and we felt guilt. If we had problems with conception or carrying to term, we felt shame - it was ‘our’ body that wasn’t operating properly. Women are now starting to throw off their shame and turn to anger.

The best piece of advice you could give to a woman under 50 and over 50?

For the under 50’s it would be to buy a roof and hold on to it through thick and thin and it’s yours.  For the over 50’s - if you have a roof, don’t sell it. No matter what. Also forgive yourself. It’s not your fault.  Nothing that has gone wrong for you is your fault. You have done the best you can, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are entitled to live a decent life. Look to your finances and get advice and don’t feel ashamed of being poor.

Any advice to mother’s wanting to get back into the workforce but not sure where to start? 

My advice is primarily to do something to up your skills - keep your hand in it in some way. Start a university course, run a small business but keep doing something. I was speaking at an event and two older women approached me. One of them told me that she and her best friend realised that if they had minded each other’s kids they would have had a ‘working record’ but since they looked after their own children in their own home they were seen as having contributed ‘nothing of value’ work-wise.

Your greatest inspiration? 

Probably my mother and father. My mother was a feminist from an early time, and she was very clear what she thought her daughter should do which was not what she had done. My father was very pro-women. My father always thought that my mother was the smartest person he ever met. He valued her opinion and treated her as an equal.

Greatest achievement? 

Being myself

Most proud of?

Being myself. 

5 people to dinner- who would they be?

  • Elizabeth 1 (daughter of Henry V111 and second wife Anne Boleyn) 
  • John Stuart Mill (British philosopher, political economist, and civil servant.)
  • Sylvia Pankhurst (English campaigner for the suffragette movement)
  • Mary Wollstoncraft (mother of feminism)
  • Hillary Clinton

What would you like to be remembered for? 

Being myself and maybe some of the books I have written.

Read part 1 of Clare's interview with Jane Caro here

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