Canterbury and District Association

British Federation of Women Graduates

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Who are we?

We are a local group of approximately 40 members, affiliated to the British Federation of Women Graduates. Membership is open to all women graduates.


 What do we do?

 *Enjoy meeting women graduates from varied backgrounds in an informal and friendly atmosphere.
* Hold monthly evening lectures delivered by invited speakers with extensive knowledge of their specialists subjects as shown on the programme page.
* Discuss topical issues at our regular meetings.
* Organise book group meetings and study groups. 
*  Arrange social events and outings
 * Have wine and cheese lunches to raise money for local and international charities, including a prize to a student at the University of Kent.
* Support the local Women's Refuge.

* Maintain contact with other associations in the region.
Opportunities for you?

*  Join in all the Association's activities, meeting like minded women.
 * Contacts worldwide through Graduate Women International (GWI) and University Women of Europe (UWE), by participation in conferences and friendship visits.
 * Participating in an annual seminar in the Houses of Parliament. 
*Submitting input into governmental initiatives.
 Are you interested?

e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Forthcoming Activities

In addition to the published Programme

  Charity Events

March 8, 2018, Interntional Women's Day Coffee Morning to raise funds for the Hegg-Hoffet Fund.


Book Group

 Meetings are held every 2 months at Cafe Rouge.

Next meeting:- January 9, 2016

May 13, 2017, Day Symposium:- Positive Aspects of Ageing:Challenging the Stereotypes. Canterbury Christ Church University.

Debra Teasdale, Dean of the Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, Canterbury Christ Church University and sponsor of this event, introduced the speakers and programme of the day, which was attended by an audience of roughly 50 people.

The first speaker on ‘Ageism in the UK’ was Dr Hannah Swift, Research Fellow at the School of Psychology at the University of Kent. She spoke about the prevalence of age discrimination, which was based on survey findings in which 32 countries across Europe took part. Her well researched work dealt with experiences and expressions of ageism. This included stereotyping, categorisation, perceived threats, and lack of intergenerational contacts. Subsidiaries to these are lack of respect, which apparently is experienced more by women than by men of the same age; patronisation and unfair/insulting behaviour which all lead to a reduced well-being among the aged.

Who is old? The boundaries between ‘old’ and ‘young’ are fluid, but very generally speaking people are classed as old from 59 years onward in the UK in contrast to many other countries. Greece is at the top with old age only starting at around 70. When does ‘young’ stop? In the UK it is at 35 (in Germany 44). The older the person, the longer they thought people to be young! All these findings are culturally bound. The consequences of this lead to feelings of “I’m too old” and negative connotations of being frail, ill, not confident and dependent. On the positive spectrum older people are associated with wisdom, competency, better developed morality, experience and warmth. All these categorisations/prejudices can make people act in line with them.

People over 70 have not got a lot of friends under 30, family members excepted. Intergenerational contact is not great in the UK, but it would get rid of remoteness and any comparisons would not be so threatening.

This was a thought provoking first session, very well presented, and one could identify with a lot of the sentiments expressed, though one could also feel a little depressed, unless you keep very active with sport and have young friends.

This talk was followed by a handful of lively questions.

The second speaker, Professor Sarah Vickerstaff, Professor of Work and Employment in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent informed us about A New Age of Retirement? The concept of ‘retirement’ together with pensions/occupational pensions was a benevolent idea in the 1940s as part of the welfare state. Retirement in the industrial society of the 19th century did not really exist. At that time people ’worked till they dropped’. The questions that are being raised now are about whether we can continue to afford retirement with an ageing population being a ‘burden’ to the economy.

The older nowadays are also healthier and active in retirement, very often going for new jobs. It is being asked whether retirement age 60 or 65 is outdated. It could be seen as an evolution, we live longer so we should work longer. Another idea is there is a baby boomers revolution: retirement is the SKI idea (Spending my kids’ inheritance), including extensive travelling, taking part in varied activities etc. Retirement, however, can also lead to a period of retrenchment: uncertainty, pension fragilities leading to poverty. Yet on the whole pensioners these days are better off than in the previous generation. Early exits from job can be bad as they have repercussions on health and/or finances. Job satisfaction is obviously good, but a bad and unrewarding job can be to your detriment, i.e. physically demanding jobs that will limit any extension of your working life.

From 2014 so-called ‘flexible employment’ was introduced, and the idea of ‘individual choice’ was advocated, for instance gradual retirement, which is only possible in certain professions. In 2010 the average retirement age was 62.3 for women and 64.6 for men. There is a gender pay gap which becomes a gender pension gap. . Women tend to be in lower paid, often not in particularly gripping jobs and often have to act as carers for the older generation. Both men and women in this category are also frequently involved in physically looking after their grandchildren to enable the younger generation to work or indeed help with mortgage payments etc. Raising the pension age can be devastating for those who fear that ‘there is not much time left’ after 67. Alternatively those who need to carry on working may hide health conditions so as not be made redundant.

The conclusion is that the richest and poorest are the first ones to leave work (for different reasons). Working longer may be embraced by some but is by no means always voluntarily, but a matter of necessity in the case of second family formations or in order keep social contact in divorce situations. We are entering a new age of retirement but how happy it will be depends a lot upon your health, wealth and domestic circumstances.

The talk was followed by a very lively question and answer session. Lunch was followed by the third lecture.

Fashion, Dress and the Cultures of Age: Challenging Stereotypes was the title of Professor Julia Twigg’s talk, Professor of Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Kent. A distinction was made between previous generations’ clothing and habits nowadays. ‘Assertive and unafraid’ in contrast to ‘more covered up, less attention grabbing, drab/dull and self-effacing’. There were light-hearted jibes about how men’s dress hardly differed throughout the “seven ages”. Older women’s choice of clothing was informed by ageing physiology and self-image, status and value. It is recognised that the over-75s buy clothes as often as the teens and tweens in the 60s. Older women and children are particularly catered for by the clothing industry. M&S boasts a loyal older cliental, is however not very successful with youngsters. Per Una for example was meant for the 30s age group but now caters more for the 40s/50s.

There were real positive aspects in this talk encouraging elderly women to defy any imposed limitations, to see dress almost as a political message. Clothing has become much cheaper, therefore more affordable than in the past and provides a chance for experimentation.

The talk was followed by another set of lively questions and then at 15.00 a half an hour panel discussion chaired by Debra Teasdale and attended by Prof Twigg and Dr Swift started.

The topics of the day were covered again, but the role of the U3A was especially touched upon and the significance of religious dress. One member queried whether there are that many challenges to perceived stereotypes and how they could be counter-acted more effectively to gain more positive aspects of ageing.

All in all it was a very fruitful and successful event with good active participation by all concerned.



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