In 1999 I moved to a new city, not knowing a soul, for work after college. I didn’t ring for 6 months but missed it so much I joined a well-known tower. I had been recommended by a ringer back home to go to this tower, so I did, coming from a village 8 and only very rarely rung on 10, I was made welcome and included and have never looked back. The tower I ring at is well-organised and has a wide range of ringers, from learners to 8-spliced plus.
At my tower, I have never felt that being a woman makes you less of a ringer or make less of a contribution to the team effort. I see women ringing all the bells in the tower to all sorts of different methods, calling touches, quarters and peals, and being very competent. My tower has a very good record for women taking on responsibility, I was RM for 4 years and deputy after that. The quarter peal attempts are split up between people, men and women, arranging the peals is the same. In my experience, the opportunities are there in ringing, you have to ask for certain things, you have to arrange quarters, arrange peals, ask for help with method leaning, striking etc. I have found that others are more than willing to help you be a better ringer as it makes their ringing experience better, they are more than happy if you
take a monthly quarter to arrange, again making it easier for everyone and sharing the responsibility.
The only person who can improve your ringing is you- I’ve leant this from my years in the hobby, Some years not making much
progress, other years making lots, I need to ask, I need to seek out the opportunity, I need to arrange things for my benefit and most importantly, keep practicing, even if the first or second time it all goes a bit wrong!
Most of the women ringers in my tower will ring the 32cwt tenor, and that’s not just behind. I’m sure the men are very happy with this as they don’t want to to picked on every couple of touches on a hot summer evening to haul the bell around to Royal!! My tower has a decent record for women ringing the tenor to peals. I aspire to this and the current RM has said he thinks there is no reason why I will not be able to achieve this.
At times I suffer from a lack of confidence and question my own ability, but I think everyone does, some just hide behind bravado. Both men and women have different levels of commitment to ringing as lifestyle and work choices change over the years, but personally, I don’t think that being a woman should hold you back, sometimes we put the barriers in the way ourselves. I don’t think knowingly playing the sex card is particularly helpful in any area of life as it can alienate you and hinder you in your aims. I have always found that being open, honest, positive and willing has helped me make progress, not just in ringing, but in all aspects of life.