Letters: It’s high time we got away from the notion that there are boy jobs and girl jobs

I NOTE an interesting article by Rosemary Goring about the messages brands put on their clothing and the effects that has (“Primark’s sexist sloganeering for girls is so tiresome”, The Herald, February 9). As it happens, I’ve been having an online chat these past few days with airline pilot colleagues past and present about why there’s such a gender imbalance in aircraft cockpits.

Only five per cent of the UK’s pilots are female and a couple of my former colleagues argue that’s because there are “boy jobs and girl jobs”; a sad echo of something Theresa May said about putting out the bins. But career choices are far more important than domestic arrangements, and flying is an attractive career, so why do so few young women aspire to it?

There’s little doubt that a lot of it comes down to the way children are conditioned when young. Girls are encouraged to be yielding and in the background, as in the old saying “behind every successful man there is a woman”. Boys are encouraged to push themselves forward, as in Primark’s slogans on their boyswear: “Go for it” and “Born to win”. And children going on holiday, or watching a movie, will see that pilots are almost always men, and white men at that.

There are plenty of parents and organisations that encourage girls and boys equally to be themselves and choose their own path, but there are also constant little nudges suggesting that some behaviours are appropriate for one sex, but not for the other, and that there are indeed boy jobs and girl jobs. If we’re to allow our youngsters genuine choice from the range of all available careers, we’ve got to get away from this indoctrination, which includes Primark’s sexist sloganeering for girls.

I spent 30 years as a pilot with BA and 10 before that in the RAF, the last three as a Qualified Flying Instructor. In my experience, the female pilots I flew with were, on average, better aviators than their male counterparts. I suspect that was because they had to be better to overcome the many hurdles and biases their male colleagues never faced. So here’s a slogan for Primark to put on their sweaters: “Women make better pilots”.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


I WAS delighted to read that the Scottish Medicines Consortium, independent of the SNP Government, has licensed Epidyolex (cannabidiol) for use in the treatment of tuberous sclerosis complex, a condition that is rare but massively debilitating for sufferers (“Cannabis-based drug given the nod”, The Herald, February 8). Well done to you for placing the story on your front page.

Notwithstanding, this is in my opinion what might be considered as a baby step in the slow progress that is being made, and must continue, in the battle to make researched and evidence-based cannabis and other “illegal” substances available in the treatment of health-related conditions, including mental health. Recent YouGov polls indicate that more than 1.4 million patients in the UK are currently consuming cannabis to help manage their diagnosed medical conditions. A further 6.7 million adult patients would like to discuss cannabis-based treatment options with their doctor.

We should take a grown-up public health approach towards all drugs that are evidence-based and outcomes-focused. This could deliver an intended consequence in diverting resources away from prosecution and enforcement and towards prevention to keep everyone safer.

Douglas McBean, Edinburgh.


I WAS very interested in your report about the work to repair and preserve the Queen Mary and was heartened to find therein an attitude of preserving heritage wherever possible (“Rescue package: Queen Mary to get $5m of critical repairs”, The Herald, February 9). The Clyde-built sailing ship Falls of Clyde, currently in Honolulu, is another very special vessel deserving preservation, although of a completely different character and history. She too is a “timeless treasure”.

Having visited her there and been immensely impressed by the skill and care that had restored her to her original glory, with help from Sir William Lithgow, I fell completely in love with her and was delighted to find that plans, by a group called Falls of Clyde International, are well advanced to bring her back to her birthplace. The intention is not simply to have another “museum exhibit”, but to fit her with green power and even set her sailing again to earn her keep on Fairtrade routes and by training apprentices and those who wish to experience the old ways of sailing. Other income streams are also planned.

Just recently, I came across an article in a glossy magazine headed “The Five Lives of a Grand Old Lady” about Falls of Clyde, with old sepia photographs taken by her second mate. It explains the five lives that Falls had which make her unique – British trader, Hawaiian sugar transport, conversion to a tanker with steam power, floating filling station for ships and finally, restoration for the Bishop Maritime Museum in Honolulu.

Now she has the chance of a sixth life, back in her birthplace, an icon of our heritage linked to an active, income-generating, green future. This must be the perfect example of what I recently heard called “green re-industrialisation”. I too believe that “you don’t sink history”, and have seen too much bulldozed in my long life.

Information on her and the plans can be found on the website

L McGregor, Falkirk.


AS another amateur historian I feel the need to respond to Tom Irvine’s letter (February 9) in which he states that Robert the Bruce’s second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, was captured near Kildrummy by Edward I’s forces. In fact Elizabeth was taken into captivity in Tain, Easter Ross, which is a considerable distance from Kildrummy.

Queen Elizabeth had sought sanctuary in the church of Saint Duthac along with Bruce’s two sisters, his daughter from his first marriage Marjorie, and the Countess of Buchan.

The Earl of Ross captured them there and then handed them over to the English. They were then sent to Edward I at Lanercost Priory to decide what their fate should be.

Graham Sutherland, Edinburgh.


FOLLOWING on from the recent Napoleonic palindrome (Letters, February 8), I remember a friend, after imbibing more alcohol than was sensible, saying to me: “Regal was I ere I saw lager”.

Brian Logan, Glasgow.

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