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British Army tackles gender misconceptions with new children’s book

The British Army has collaborated with Butterfly Books, the publishing house set up by award winning chartered electrical engineer Kerrine Bryan, to produce a new children’s picture book which aims to tackle gender diversity issues and misconceptions about Army jobs at the grassroots.

My Mummy Is A Soldier, launched in the week of International Women’s Day at an event opened at the National Army Museum by Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood, and which was attended by 60 local schoolchildren and Army personnel. It is the fifth book in a series of titles targeting 4 to 7-year olds that incorporates inspiring female role models undertaking jobs or professions previously typically held by men. 

Lieutenant Colonel Deborah Taylor led the partnership. She told us: “Since the integration of women into the Regular and Army Reserve, there has been an increase in their number across the broad range of trades, skills and professions in the Army. We have senior female soldiers and officers who have had long and exemplary careers in the Army serving both at home and overseas in all types of operations from war-fighting to humanitarian relief. They have won medals for their bravery and worked alongside their male counterparts in the same conditions, with the same equipment, in the same locations.”

It’s important the general public has the opportunity to see us and to know we are a reflection of them; we’re made up of all genders, ethnicities, religions and sexualities. Lieutenant Colonel Deborah Taylor

Taylor continued: “It’s important the general public has the opportunity to see us and to know we are a reflection of them; we’re made up of all genders, ethnicities, religions and sexualities. This book is looking to show how women participate in the Army.”

Founder of Butterfly Books, Kerrine Bryan, set up the independent publishing house with her brother Jason Bryan in 2015 where, as a STEM ambassador, she volunteered doing talks about her job across the country to children in schools.

Bryan commented: “Inspiring children to understand that, with application, passion and hard work, they can pursue any job they choose no matter what gender they are or what background they come from, needs to start from a reasonably early age before misconceptions sets in to limit their sights. To do this, the narrative must be told by diverse role models that break convention. I know first-hand that if youngsters don’t see people who look like them doing a certain job, then they are less likely to go for it. What we hope to do with My Mummy Is A Soldier along with our other books is to inspire, broaden the horizons and underscore to children that the world is their oyster. We’re looking at doing books for daddies next, starting with “My Daddy is a Nurse.”

Lt Col Taylor added: “This particular collaboration is a unique opportunity to educate children about how the diversity of jobs in the Army are conducted by a truly diverse work force. There are no typical profiles of women who join– all want to do different things from the massive range of career routes available: from tank driver to dog-handler, vet to lawyer, mechanic to nurse. There is a huge array of choice with the common factors that you do it in uniform, with the same opportunities and crucially, on the same pay.”

My Mummy Is A Soldier (Butterfly Books), RRP £6.99 is available to buy along with My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer, My Mummy Is A Plumber and My Mummy Is A Farmer at www.butterflybooks.uk.