Newnham Principal Slams Ladette Culture

Dame Patricia Hodgson last week condemned the ladette culture that is leaving girls feeling stupid, inferior and pressured to play on their good looks.

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Newnham Principal Dame Patricia Hodgson last week slammed the ladette culture that is leaving girls feeling stupid, inferior and pressured to play on their good looks.

Speaking at the annual Girls Schools Association conference in Manchester Dame Trish blamed bawdy celebs for making girls believe the only way to get noticed is donning a short skirt, piling on the slap and boozing it up around town.

She said: “From their early teens on, girls suffer from a culture that judges them on their looks. But boys can get their drive from different things like music and sport.

“For young girls… it’s looks alone that determine the pecking order. It’s the power of ladette culture. Academic achievement is frowned upon” she said.”

The 2010 Forbes Top 100 Most Powerful Women list was teeming with totty like Beyonce and Angelina Jolie whilst serious business women festered at the bottom of the rankings.

Even Michelle Obama, number one on the list, is more likely to be featured in a magazine that talks about her latest style success than anything more substantial.

Here in Cambridge, Hodgson spoke of freshers at Newnham who felt they got in to Cambridge by fluke and thought they knew less than boys in their subject.

Dame Trish, who went to Newnham herself in the 1970’s, said that 40 years on, girls seem a lot less intellectually self-confident yet boast bags of bravado.

To be sure the Newnham girls have done little over the last couple of years to improve their reputation as a bunch of loutish and licentious ladies.

The Tab reported last year how Newnham’s JCR President Lizzie Cole had to tell the girls to keep the noise down during their midnight liaisons and the Nuns’ naughty exploits have been splashed across national tabloids.

Academically however, Hodgson sees a fear of failing in her girls that she worries will hold them back in reaching their full potential.

“Quite a few women are held back by fear of failure and lack of ­confidence… One does wonder if the equal opportunity which we have been led to believe is there, is really there” she explained.

Hodgson believes that girls need ‘real’ role models that will inspire them to have confidence in their abilities and aim high. She is not objecting to girls looking good, but they need to know being fit should not come at the price of being smart.