Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers Notes

Resource created by Sarah Hirst, in collaboration with Leeds Museums and Galleries.

This resource explores the issues around who writes our histories, and how this has affected how women are (under)represented and presented in the historical record. It then provides two examples of women from very different time periods who were leaders in their own right.


Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History: The Roman Empire and its impact on Britain | Local history study (Leeds  / Yorkshire) | Significant people from the locality (Leeds / Yorkshire) (Cartimandua chapter)
  • KS3 History: Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901 (Elizabeth Beecroft chapter)
  • KS2 Citizenship: Developing good relationships and respecting the differences between people - to think about the lives of people living in other places and times, and people with different values and customs.


Discussion and Activity Ideas

The following ideas are more generally based around the subject of women, history and women's history. Each of the case studies (Cartimundua and Betty Beecroft) also have discussion and activity ideas relevant to their content.


General Discussion Ideas

  • What female historical figures do you find interesting or inspiring, and what is it about them that inspires you?
  • What are the biggest challenges that face women today? You could consider the workplace, in the home, in schools, in government or positions of power, social expectations or perceptions of women.
    • How do you think these will change in the next twenty years?
  • If you lived in the past, how would gender expectations shape your life differently? This can be related to a recent, or particular period of historical study. You could think about:
    • access to money
    • job prospects
    • ability to be independent
    • cultural norms and expectations
    • laws
    • voting rights
  • Which women, alive today, do you think will be significant for future generations and why?
  • What, if any, have been your experiences of sexism or other forms of discrimination?
    • How do you think these can be prevented from happening again, or to someone else?


General Activity Ideas

  • Write about a woman in the past you have been inspired by.
    • This could be someone from your family or someone you have read or heard about (they can be famous or unknown).
  • As a class, brainstorm the women in history you are familiar with.
    • Do they have anything in common?
    • What kind of roles did they have?
    • Spend a similar time brainstorming men from history.
      • Is  it easier to think of famous men?
      • If so, why do you think this is?
  • Research a woman from the past you find interesting or inspiring and create a piece of work about them. For example:
    • a report or biography
    • a portrait or a sculpture of them
    • a timeline of their life
    • a webpage or Wikipedia entry
    • an imaginary Facebook or Instagram page of what they might post
    • Or create a class 'living wax-works' with each pupil dressing up as their chosen woman, and then standing as if a waxwork in a museum. Invite another class to come and ask the 'wax works' questions about their life, and watch them spring to life to answer them.
  • Explore art by and/or about women in galleries or online.
  • Research an important event in women’s history.
    • Create a mini timeline, draw or paint pictures of the event and write placards.
    • Plan and film a mini documentary, or write and perform a piece about it.
  • Design and create flags, placards or bunting for the classroom on a theme such as women’s rights, examples of everyday sexism, or ‘forgotten’ women in history.


Resources used in researching this Learning Story

  • Keegan, Boudica, Cartimandua, Messalina and Agrippina the Younger. Independent women of power and the gendered rhetoric of roman history. Ancient History Resources for Teachers, Vol 34 Issue 2 (January 2004).
  • Braund, Observations on Cartimandua. Brittania Vol 15 (1984).
  • I.A. Richmond, Queen Cartimandua, The Journal of Roman Studies Vol 44 (1954).
  • J. Stewart, The Change in Cartimandua’s character in Annals 12.40 and Histories 3.45, Journal of Ancient Civilisations (2001)
  • Allason-Jones, Women in Roman Britain, in S.L. James and S. Dillon, A Companion to Women in the Ancient World (2012).