Joan Bakewell: Get kids out of the way, then have your career

Publish Date
Thursday, 6 April 2017, 9:21AM

Dame Joan Bakewell, the broadcaster whose crusade for gender equality at work has made her an inspirational female icon, has issued a stark warning against women who delay motherhood for their careers, the Daily Mail reports.

"Women have shaped their lives differently. Women now want to have more of the fun and delay marrying, if they marry at all, as well as having children," says Joan, 83.

"So that's a major, major change in a woman’s life. Just biologically, we were designed to have babies at a young age and now we’re having babies when we’re older, which is a physical stress."

The outspoken personality has two grown-up children, Matthew and Harriet, by TV producer Michael Bakewell, to whom she was married for 17 years until 1972.

She has admitted to struggling to balance work and motherhood, taking jobs that fitted in with her children so that she could feed them, bathe them and read to them before heading out to do BBC’s Late Night Line-Up.

"I was married at 22 and had a child at 25. Looking back now, there are advantages to having your children earlier," explains Joan, who famously had an affair with the celebrated playwright Harold Pinter from 1962 to 1969, during her first marriage. She later wed British director Jack Emery in 1975. The couple divorced in 2001.

"My point is, you have them, you can spend a lot of time on them, and then by the time they’re ten you’ve still got your career."

Speaking at the English National Opera gala in London, she adds: "My daughter’s a good friend of mine and she’s only 25 years younger than me. So we’re good friends — my son, too — and I think that has partly come about because I had them when I did. I didn’t wait till I was in my 40s. You can get all the mothering stuff out of the way."

This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.