Dr Jacqui Turner: Female Pioneers in Politics
As we celebrate 100 years since women gained the partial vote in the UK, Jacqui is on a mission to inspire her students to pursue their dreams.
Jacqui is uncovering the secrets of female pioneers in British politics, in particular, Nancy Astor. Astor was the first female MP to sit in the House of Commons and her extensive papers are held at the University of Reading. To engage her students with women's place in society and politics, Jacqui utilises a hands-on teaching approach; taking her students to examine the real, historical documents of Astor's life and work, and to parliament to meet current female MPs.
Jacqui's desire to inspire her students stems from her own past. Proud to call herself a feminist, Jacqui grew up in a northern post-industrial town surrounded by the political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s. She witnessed women becoming increasingly politically active during this time, while Jacqui's dad encouraged her to engage with politics and never to be pigeon-holed by what she, or others, thought she could do as a woman.
As Lecturer of Modern British Political History at Reading, Jacqui is motivating women to engage with politics and their community; to believe they can effect change and have it all if they choose. To achieve this, Jacqui worked closely with Parliament on Vote 100, celebrating the 1918 centenary of some women being granted the right to vote. At the end of 2018, Vote 100 became Astor 100, managed by Jacqui at the University, creating opportunities for students, the local community, and national partners to engage with their own inspirational history to effect positive change.
"I love that my teaching and research has a real impact on my students, the community, and further afield. I hope that Astor's determination and perseverance will inspire other women to pursue their dreams too."
The election of Nancy Astor challenged the male narrative in Parliament and changed British democracy for ever. Her arrival in Parliament ushered in a new type of politician - a public woman, a new perspective, and a reminder that there was a female electorate who increasingly demanded to be satisfied.
#Astor100 is a major series of academic and public engagements taking place during 2019 and on into 2020, curated by Jacqui. Astor 100 goes beyond Nancy Astor herself - it is a memorization of the achievement of an individual that will facilitate a wider celebration of what she represented and the avenues she pioneered for women who followed.
On 28th November - 100 years since Nancy Astor won her seat in 1919 - a GWR train is being re-named the 'Nancy Astor' . Departing from London Paddington, and stopping at Reading, it will take dignitaries to Plymouth for the unveiling of the Nancy Astor statue.
"Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity."
Watch this film from parliament to hear Jacqui's insight into the life of Nancy Astor: