Dame Stella Rimington

Young people today are being pushed to work out their career pathway and start on it. She suggests that this leads to an unnecessary high level of stress. She became an archivist and she enjoyed her job but she was relaxed about it- her jobs provided her interest and excitement, which young people don’t have anymore about work.

She describes her ‘life’ as a British diplomat’s wife in New Delhi: cake sales and amateur dramatics!


She then gets offered a job as a part-time clerk typist within the MI5 office in New Delhi and it was during the Cold War. As her husband moved back to London, she had to make a decision: working as an archivist again or to apply for a full-time role with MI5. After a few questions, she was in. It was a great disappointment. Men ran the whole thing and were doing the sharp-end intelligence work.

Ok, so I stopped making notes but she was just too engaging. It’s a talk I will remember for a long time; because of my strongly feminist values and because she is such an incredible inspiration to young people, especially women, everywhere.

One thing that struck me was just how progressive the views of her teachers had been. She and her peers were persuaded to go to University; against the assumption of the time that educating women was a waste as they’d only get married and have children anyway. Behind every great woman is a hero- in this case it was her teachers.

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