ONE OF THESE WOMEN HAS MARRIED EIGHT MEN; ONE PUTS OUT FIRES, ONE BUYS BLUE MOVIES, ONE IS A CHIPPIE, ONE WORKS WITH APES AND ONE SCORES FOR ENGLAND. GUESS WHO...
Decide for yourself who's a vicar, a firefighter, a zoo keeper, an adult movie buyer, a carpenter and a footballer.
Then turn the page to see if you're right and find out what made them go in their respective directions - and how glad they are that they did. BUSOLA ODULATE and OLIVIA BUXTON report...
Rachel Urbach, 36, has been a carpenter for 12 years and runs her own business.
"I never thought I'd become a carpenter. I always reckoned I would end up being a teacher or doing social work," says Rachel.
"I grew up in Muswell Hill, North London, went to a comprehensive school and at 18 did a degree in politics at Sussex University. Afterwards I worked briefly as a campaigner but became disillusioned and left.
"It was after suggestions from someone in my local pub that I took up carpentry and did a general introductory building course for women at Camden training centre.
"I then met a guy who employed me to do boring maintenance jobs. He could be rather patronising, ringing his clients to warn them that a woman would be coming round. Fortunately I met a builder called Steve who offered me two weeks work - which turned into two years.
"Steve was very encouraging and before long I was building French doors, gutting houses with dry rot, taking out all the beams and joists. I soon became a skilled and confident carpenter.
"My partner is also a carpenter with his own business. Our plan is to have a child soon and when the time comes we may merge our firms - and become a family business."
THE ZOO KEEPER
Karen Nolan, 26, has been a keeper at London Zoo for four years.
"People never believe me when I tell them what I do. They know zoo keepers exist but no-one expects to bump into one," she says
"I studied engineering at Oxford polytechnic but even before I finished the degree course I knew that a career in engineering was just not for me."
Karen, from Eastcombe, Middlesex, had always loved animals but hadn't thought about working with them until she saw an advert saying London Zoo was looking for volunteers.
She says: "They took me on for one day a week for six months then I became a voluntary zoo keeper's assistant for another six months. I really enjoyed it so when a full-time zoo keeper's job came up, I applied and got it.
"I started off looking after small mammals like rodents, bats and small carnivores but now I care for the larger animals like monkeys and apes. My boyfriend Mick also works at the zoo. He's an elephant keeper.
"The best thing about the job is the bond you form with the animals. It can be hard work but I love it."
Dany Macvie, 28, joined the fire service as a teenager and is now based at Sutton, Surrey, where as sub-officer she is in charge of 11 firefighters.
"After doing my A-levels I spent six months temping and knew I never wanted to work in an office again," says Dany.
"I saw an advert for firefighters and applied for it even though my friends said I wouldn't last a day.
"My father was horrified when I decided to join the brigade but my mum was really proud - although she worries a lot."
Dany, from Whitstable, Kent, says people often stare when she turns up at fire calls and even point at her when she's on the engine.
She says: "I am the only female at my station and until about three years ago I used to change in the same locker room as the men. That meant they'd see me in my bra and knickers. It was quite daunting at first but I got used to it. Then I was promoted and got my own locker room.
"My boyfriend is a firefighter. It's common for couples to get together through the job. You're never short of men around you.
"The ones at my station don't treat me differently but I've worked at stations where men have refused to be in fire engines with a female.
"I see a lot of horrific things through the job and some imagine women will be more affected by it. But I think we cope much better. Women are more likely to have a good cry and get it out of their system while men tend to bottle things up. I wouldn't want do anything else."
Hope Powell, 31, has score 35 goals in 62 games for the England women's football team over the past 15 years. She's been playing since she was 11 and now turns out for Croydon WFC.
Hope says: "My brother used to play football with the other boys so it was natural for me to play with them. At school I met a girl who played for a top team and went to a training session with her for the Millwall Lionesses. I got in their reserve team and have been playing ever since.
"Some say women footballers are not feminine but it's an illusion that we are all big and butch. Men I've been out with were not surprised at what I do - just intrigued."
Hope, from Nunhead, South London, says the most difficult thing about being a female footballer is that they don't have professional status.
"Someone like Alan Shearer can earn tens of thousands a week, while we need regular jobs to support ourselves.
"I work as a community sports development officer for Lewisham council in South London.
"I don't think male footballers think we are invading their sport. I know David Rocastle and Ian Wright and they are really supportive of what we do.
"I have had a few injuries through playing. I dislocated my left shoulder last year and it took three months to heal. But it's all part of the game."
THE ADULT MOVIE BUYER
Juliet Bayliss, 31, has worked as a satellite subscriptions manager for adult entertainment cable station The Fantasy Channel for eight months.
"I've always been broad-minded about sex - I have to be to do my job," she says. "I wouldn't last five minutes if I were prudish.
"My work involves watching all the new adult entertainment programmes. I also train and keep the telephone operators up-to-date with the latest programmes and adverts.
"My main priority is to examine the ads to ensure they're projecting the right message. It's important that they're not too explicit or too soft. If the content's not right, we won't get the subscribers. It's as simple as that.
"I'm also involved in marketing and promotions so I get a feel for what our 200,000 subscribers want to watch. The producers rely on me to inform them of what's popular."
Juliet, from London, says the only thing that has surprised her is the number of women subscribers. She says: "About 40 per cent are women and I'm always getting e-mails and letters asking about their favourite programmes.
"This demonstrates that women don't feel exploited by the industry and this is reflected in late Nineties erotica where the emphasis has shifted to couples enjoying themselves. It's a refreshing change from the old 'lonely, dirty old man' stereotype.
"People find my job fascinating, especially my parents. They are totally supportive and sometimes my mum even watches the videos with me. We have a right giggle.
"I have to admit my job is definitely a good conversation piece and my friends find it a constant source of entertainment. I'm lucky in that my partner doesn't mind either.
"I can't see myself being in another industry. When I look at other people's professions, I think 'Oh, I couldn't do their job, it must be so boring compared to mine'."
Rosy Fairhurst, 34, has been associate vicar at St Mary's, Islington, in North London, for the last three months.
She says: "I never thought I'd become a vicar, even though my dad was one, but I always knew I'd end up working in a Christian capacity.
"I was born in Sri Lanka where my dad was a missionary. Then, when I was three, we moved to England. I went to Cambridge University to study English and it was there that I first met women working as deacons - a rarity in 1984. By the time I left university I realised I might be able to be a vicar.
"I moved to Hackney in London because I wanted to work in an inner city. I did a variety of jobs, training as a teacher, working as a journalist and for a food wholesalers. I needed to find out if being ordained really was for me.
"After five years, I was selected for training and served my curacy. Now I'm working with a male vicar and am one of 81 women clergy in the Diocese of London.
"I really love it, especially marrying couples (I've done eight so far) and taking communion because it's an opportunity to meet people face-to- face. My role is to learn with others how to love as well as how to accept love."
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|Author:||Odulate, Busola; Buxton, Olivia|
|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Feb 22, 1998|
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