UK Politics

Girls need more career help, says Clegg's wife Miriam

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez
Image caption Miriam Gonzalez Durantez said young women were "determined to shine"

The wife of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has urged more women to "make a difference" to girls by acting as career role models.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, a lawyer, said it was "our duty to guarantee that potential does not go to waste".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, she announced a series of "speed-dating" events, where girls can meet female professionals and business leaders.

Ms Gonzalez Durantez said it was important to "feel free to aim high".

Since her husband became Liberal Democrat leader in 2007 and deputy prime minister in 2010, she has maintained a low public profile, appearing mainly at state events and party conferences.

Ms Durantez Gonzalez, who is Spanish, is acknowledged as an expert on international law and is said to out-earn Mr Clegg.

'Frustrated'

As a mother of three boys, she wrote on the Telegraph that she felt "a certain sense of relief" that they would "not have to go through some of the many difficulties that girls of their age will no doubt face".

She argued that, while men were "able to toy with unlimited options", women faced "a series of stark options".

Ms Gonzalez Durantez added: "If we do not have children, people assume we are 'frustrated'. If we stay at home taking care of our children, it is said we are 'not working'. If we have a job, we are portrayed as just 'part-time mums', and sometimes even as bad parents.

"If we succeed in our professional lives, we're branded 'scary'; if we follow fashion, we're 'shallow'; if we like science, we're 'geeks'; if we read women's magazines, we're 'fluffy'; and if we defend our rights, we're 'hard'."

Girls found it hard to deal with "so many absurd labels" and lacked exposure to role models, although there were "hundreds of inspirational women".

Ms Gonzalez Durantez said the charity Inspiring the Future would be providing speakers to visit state schools, starting with a "speed-dating" event, in which 100 pupils in London would meet "nine highly accomplished women at the top of their fields".

She added: "The new generation of girls are clever, engaged and curious; they are ambitious, but in a realistic way; they are not afraid of hard work and they are determined to shine.

"It is our duty to guarantee that all that potential does not go to waste. Those girls should not have to limit their dreams and feel constrained by absurd and demeaning stereotypes. They should rather feel free to aim high - high in their jobs, and high in their lives."

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