Bev was a member of the WRAF for 13 years and tells us about some of the barriers that she faced as a woman in her career.
“When I joined the WRAF in the late seventies and eighties, women were still a minority and were often seen as female first and a professional second which was sometimes very challenging but it made me even more determined to achieve my goals. An extract from a 1989 annual review of the Women’s Royal Air Force reads ‘Corporal Jewitt is an attractive slim young woman of good deportment and is well turned out’. (Hopefully, things have changed in the modern RAF)
After 13 years leaving the WRAF to start a family came with its own challenges. After giving birth to my twin sons, I began suffering from postnatal depression, I lost all of my confidence for a very long time and really struggled, I had always been hard working which meant realising that I had a problem and asking for help wasn’t something I was very comfortable with. After the birth of my children, I retrained to become a Children’s nurse and had to learn how to balance raising my children with my career and the unrealistic expectations put upon me during that training.”
Bev had a lot of advice when asked how she maintains a healthy work-life balance: “Learning to manage my time and prioritising what I need to do is one of the ways I maintain a balance. Routine is my key, I find that making lists are great and if something stays at the bottom of the list, then it’s just not that important, another way I maintain a balance is by making sure I take regular breaks from work throughout the year as my days can get pretty hectic. I find that it can really help to take time out from what you do. Exercising also keeps me motivated and I find that going for runs or going to the gym keeps me energised and well.”
What else has kept you motivated Bev? “One thing that’s kept me motivated throughout the years is a bad experience I had at school. A deputy head once told my mum that I would never achieve anything in my life. I have never forgotten this but if I could go back and speak to my 16-year-old self I would say as long as you try your best there is always something you can achieve”
What would your advice to young girls be? “My advice to other young girls would be to remember that qualifications do not always mean a person cannot accomplish something, I left school with three o levels but have achieved 2 successful careers and have continued my education in my adult life. So it’s important to not let school get you down. My second piece of advice would be to never feel intimidated by men or women in the workplace. Work hard and never give up on your dreams!”