Working Lives

General changes in life, 1920's - present

Changes in education

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Probably the biggest change of the last 20 years is in education. Both at GCSE and ‘A’ level, girls now perform better – 25 per cent of girls get two or more A levels compared to 20 per cent of boys, and not just in traditional ‘girls’ subjects’ like English, history and languages, but also mathematics and science.

This has had a major effect on numbers going to university. Nearly five times as many women entered higher education courses in 1999 (599,000) as in the early 1970s, whereas figures for men have only doubled (528,000 compared to 241,000 in 1971). Angie was the very first member of her family – male or female – to go to university. And the first one to borrow her mum’s clothes!

It would have been unthinkable for Shelley to wear the same clothes as her mum Maria, but now she thinks nothing of borrowing clothes from Angie, and vice versa. If there’s one other thing that makes modern fashion different from the past, it’s the amazing range of choice. When Angie’s granny started work at John Lewis, the clothes sold all followed certain rules – now fashion means very different things to different people.


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