The 1960’s in Britain, whilst not as radical as the following decade, was a great time of change for women’s equality. The publication of The Feminist Mystique in 1963 and, in 1967 the availability of abortion’s through the NHS are just two examples of how the country was changing.
During the interviews with the Royal Holloway alumni, I wish to explore the issue of feminism. One thing to address would be whether or not students (both male and female) were aware of the social movement happening in the country – or, for the women at least because they were already at predominantly female colleges, the idea of gender equality was already acceptable. It will be interesting to see from those who may have considered themselves a feminist if this went on to impact their future in careers for instance. In terms of the university itself, asking questions to see if there was any sort of politically motivated women’s organisation on campus and what they were involved in would benefit the archive.
In terms of limitations with this topic, it is possible that people would not have considered themselves a ‘feminist’ but believed in rights for women in certain elements so this may need to be teased out. It will also be very important to keep in mind how I ask the questions. The idea of feminism is still relevant today in society so there is a risk of the interviewees answering questions influenced by what they believe now, rather than how they saw things then.
I think this is a very interesting area to explore given Royal Holloway and Bedford’s history of being women’s institutions to see if this had an impact on the way its students thought about gender. The addition of men into a female dominated environment was certainly not that common in the 60’s so perfectly situated to explore this topic from a male point of view too.