MENTORS: Although I was taught by a man, and my two main mentors were men, thinking back I think it was the women in leadership roles who encouraged me the most and were my role models - as branch chairs, branch ringing 'master' and tower captains.
CONDUCTING: I conducted my one and only quarter peal 13 years ago. I found it very stressful and although, at the time, I expected to call more, I somehow didn't get round to it. When we've needed a conductor I've preferred to invite in a conductor (one of two local male ones). We did for a while try joint conducting to boost our confidence (in my band of ringers and friends from other nearby towers) but again that fell by the wayside due to time pressures I think. In fact I hardly ever call a touch these days, as I try to encourage other ringers to have a go. I think I was inhibited from progressing in conducting as I don't really understand the theory - despite attending several conducting training sessions.
RINGING PROGRESS: I made most progress from going away on residential ringing courses (Fire ring and Keele) and am grateful to the various tutors for their encouragement and support. There was one course I hated! It was run like a school and the (male) tutor for my course (Stedman Triples) was unsympathetic to his students and more interested in himself! I didn't much enjoy another course either, when I went as a helper, for much the same reasons.
TEACHING: The two of us (both women) in my tower who are the most experienced and competent in method ringing have both decided that we would rather spend time teaching others the basics, rather than focusing on our own progress in more complicated methods (ie surprise major) which we rarely have the opportunity to ring anyway. How do ART statistics for tutors work out in terms of male/female split?
INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE: your final comment on page 1073 of the RW about the term 'master' is so apposite! The language and role titles are enough to put off any new female ringer. When I was our branch chair from 2001 to 2008 I always referred to myself as the chair. I asked the association secretary to list me as such in the annual report and was told 'no, it's against the Association Rules'. Unfortunately I didn't have the time or inclination to go through all the layers of bureaucracy to achieve a change and then, even if it had got as far as an AGM, I could just picture the scene with the usual loud-mouthed (male) ringers sounding off. I had enough stress in my life without adding to it! Recently the Association has been reviewing its Rules. I once again have written to the secretary about the need to use inclusive language. After all, the CofE had been working on this for the last 30 years. Why are bell ringers always so old fashioned and unaware? Language is extremely important and reflects the culture of an organisation. I'm not hopeful that anything will change.
Sorry about the long message, but many thanks for all the work your group is doing and raising so many important issues.