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WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT AND PROFESSIONALISM IN AUSTRALIA
WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT AND PROFESSIONALISM IN AUSTRALIA Histories, Themes and Places
WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT AND PROFESSIONALISM IN AUSTRALIA Histories, Themes and Places BY DR MARIA NUGENT FOR THE AUSTRALIAN HERITAGE COMMISSION
This report was prepared in association with Professor Paula Hamilton and Dr Paul Ashton, Australian Centre for Public History, University of Technology, Sydney and Dr Alison Bashford, Department of Gender Studies, University of Sydney
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2002
This work is copyright. Information presented in this document may be reproduced in whole or in part for study or training purposes, subject to the inclusion of the acknowledgement of the source and provided no commercial usage of the material occurs. Reproduction for purposes other than those given above requires the written permission of the Australian Heritage Commission. Requests for permission should be addressed to the Executive Director, Australian Heritage Commission, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601.
Copies of this report are available from: Australian Heritage Commission GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601 Telephone: (02) 6274 2111; Facsimile: (02) 6274 2090
This guide is also available on the Internet at:
Cover Images Background: University of Melbourne graduate Bella Guerin, 1883 (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria) Top left: Tobacconist and stationer shop, Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia, c. 1900 (courtesy of Battye Library) Left: Detail from Sketches at Servants Training Institute, from The Illustrated Australian news, 28 November, 1883 (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria) Middle: Façade of Emily McPherson College, Melbourne (courtesy of Heritage Victoria) Right: Doctors and nursing staff at Queen Victoria Hospital, Melbourne, 1942 (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria) Top right: Laboratory testing, Balm Paints Research Laboratory, Clayton, (Copyright Wolfgang Sievers, 1961/Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002)
F O R E WO R D
Australia has a rich cultural heritage, with significant places revealing how we have lived and worked over the course of our history. Yet many stories remain untold, such as those related to the experiences of Australian women in the workplace. The Australian Heritage Commission is conducting research into the links between heritage places and the history of women’s employment in Australia. Places such as hospitals, pharmacies, school and factories all reveal the changing nature of work undertaken by Australian women. Stage one of this research, is found in this publication, Women’s employment and professionalism in Australia: histories, themes and places, which re-evaluates the heritage significance of places connected to the history of women and work. The report examines the nature of paid work undertaken by women inside and outside the home. It included employment in the ‘traditional’ fields of nursing, teaching and manufacturing as well as the move into professional fields such as medicine, aviation and architecture. The study also investigates women’s struggle to gain equality in the workplace through improved conditions and employment opportunities. The women’s suffrage movement of the nineteenth century was an important part of their on-going struggle, with women in colonial society seeking the same opportunities and rights as their male counterparts. Australian women lead the world in obtaining the vote during the nineteenth century; women first voted in South Australia on 23 March 1896. In 2002 we celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage in the Australian Commonwealth and 40 years of Aboriginal women's suffrage. It is an opportune time for the Australian Heritage Commission to publish this report on the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia. The Australian Heritage Commission is committed to research on heritage issues and to making that research freely available. To help achieve this objective, this publication will be placed on the Commission’s internet homepage at www.ahc.gov.au
Tom Harley Chairman Australian Heritage Commission
AC K N OW L E D G E M E N T S
This report has been produced with the assistance of many people. Thanks especially to Ann Curthoys, Kay Saunders, Linda Young, Susan Marsden, Bobby Oliver, Anna Haebich, Mickey Dewar, Natalie Broughton, Alex Marsden, Roslyn Burge, Louella McCarthy, Robyn Gregory, Bruce Baskerville, Kate Rea and members of the Placing Women’s Network for sharing ideas and insights about the history and heritage of women’s employment and professionalism. Thanks also to the various state and territory heritage offices and National Trust offices that provided information about places relevant to the research project.
CHAPTER 1. WOMEN AND DOMESTIC LABOUR
CHAPTER 2. WOMEN IN THE PUBLIC WORK SPHERE
CHAPTER 3. THE STRUGGLE FOR ACCESS AND EQUALITY
Conclusion & Recommendations for Further Research
APPENDIX I Thematic Framework for Women’s Employment and Professionalism
APPENDIX II List of Indicative Places
I N T RO D U CT I O N
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES In recent years, the Commonwealth Government’s heritage grants programs have funded two research projects by Miranda Morris investigating appropriate methodologies for identifying, interpreting and promoting women’s heritage. The first project was titled Placing Women: A methodology for the identification, interpretation and promotion of the heritage of women in Tasmania. The second research project, Placing Women II: A national framework for ensuring the visibility of women in heritage, recommended further research into, and identification of, heritage places associated with women. As a commitment to the implementation of Placing Women II, the Australian Heritage Commission has funded this contextual history of women’s employment and professionalism focussing on place. This report is the first stage of a program to research and document women’s heritage places in Australia and includes an indicative list of significant heritage places associated with women’s employment in Australia.
of places identified; nominations of places to the Register of the National Estate and other registers; and the development and implementation of appropriate conservation, interpretation and promotional projects.
The project has involved the following tasks: • preparation of an authoritative contextual history of women’s employment and professionalism, incorporating a thematic framework and a bibliography of documentary and other sources of data;
• compilation of a list of indicative places;
The research project began with a comprehensive literature review and study of the historiography of women’s employment and professionalism. The literature review revealed a huge body of work on the history of women’s employment and professionalism as well as rich archival collections that include material on a range of relevant themes.
• recommendations for additional research, heritage listing and conservation of significant places identified, and for future work on related themes and place types. It is anticipated this work will assist the completion, in later projects, of comprehensive field surveys; documentation and assessment
differences. For example, Raelene Frances has criticised Beverley Kingston’s early study of women’s work for its relatively narrow geographical coverage.3 Similarly, Curthoys has suggested that ‘perhaps it is her urban emphasis which enables Kingston to ignore Aboriginal society so completely, for in a rural study the interconnections between sexual and racial exploitation would (or should) be impossible to ignore’.4 Katie Spearritt has observed that ‘case studies of Victoria, and to a lesser extent New South Wales, dominate the literature on women’s labour in Australia’.5 In her work on colonial Queensland, she aims to ‘give feminist scholarship a refined geographic aspect’.
Literature Review The history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia has already been the subject of some excellent general and specialist histories.1 This scholarship can be broadly divided into two disciplinary strands, feminist history and labour history.
Feminist history Women’s employment has been a key theme in Australian feminist history, particularly during the 1980s when historians such as Ann Curthoys and Jill Julius Matthews provided important theoretical insights into the nature, meaning and value of women’s labour and the limitations of interpreting women’s labour according to existing historiographical approaches.2 Feminist history literature is predominantly concerned with accounting for the value of women’s employment and explaining the relationship between labour performed in the private and public spheres. Assessing the value of women’s labour to social, cultural and political life, and making that contribution visible in Australia’s labour history, has been, and continues to be, the concern of many historians and other scholars in Australia.
Theorising the relationship between the public and private (or between production and reproduction) was a significant aspect of early Australian feminist research into women and work. Scholars demonstrated the hidden economic value of women’s domestic labour and showed the ways in which women’s public work was in many respects a continuation of their social construction. The most stark example was the growth of nursing as a ‘feminine occupation’, and as an occupation that centred on historically specific constructions of women’s behaviour and femininity.
In recent times, while acknowledging the foundation that this scholarship has made to understanding the value and contribution of women’s labour across time and place, some of this earlier work has been criticised for failing to reflect the diversity of women’s experiences of work, including that based on class, cultural, regional and geographical
Labour history The history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia has also been the concern of labour historians. By and large, this work has concentrated upon women’s
1 See for example: Edna Ryan & Anne Conlon, Gentle Invaders: Australian Women at Work 1788–1974, Nelson, Melbourne, 1975; Beverley Kingston, My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann: Women and Work in Australia, Nelson, Melbourne, 1975; Elizabeth Windschuttle (ed.), Women, Class and History: Feminist Perspectives on Australia 1788–1978, Fontana/Collins, Melbourne, 1980; Margaret Bevege, Margaret James & Carmel Shute (eds), Worth her Salt: Women at Work in Australia, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1982; Kaye Hargreaves, Women at Work, Penguin, Ringwood, 1982; Megan McMurchy, Margot Oliver & Jeni Thornley, For Love or Money: A Pictorial History of Women and Work in Australia, Penguin, Ringwood, 1983; Raelene Frances & Bruce Scates, Women at Work in Australia from the Gold Rushes to World War II, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1993.
See Ann Curthoys, ‘Explaining the sexual division of labour under capitalism’, Refractory Girl, nos 18/19, Dec. 1979–Jan. 1980; Ann Curthoys, ‘Towards a feminist labour history’, Women at Work, Ann Curthoys, Susan Eade & Peter Spearritt (eds), Australian Centre for the Study of Labour History, Canberra, 1975; Jill Julius Matthews, Good and mad women: the historical construction of femininity in twentieth-century Australia, George Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1984.
3 Raelene Frances, ‘Shifting barriers: Twentieth century women’s labour patterns’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, p. 254. 4
Curthoys, op. cit., p. 92.
Katie Spearritt, ‘Toil and privation: European women’s labour in colonial Queensland’, Women, Work and the Labour Movement in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, Raelene Frances & Bruce Scates (eds), Special issue of Labour History, no. 61, 1991, pp. 134–135.
and individual women’s diaries, are all sources for the history of women’s employment and professionalism.8
participation in the paid workforce, and their activism around work related issues, including involvement in trade unions. Many studies emerging from labour history provide detailed case studies of specific industries and work places at particular historical moments. This scholarship has been criticised for defining women’s employment too narrowly, including uncritically accepting definitions of work more suited to men. Marilyn Lake argues that ‘the dominant approach of labour historians attempting to rescue women from historical invisibility has been assimilationist. Women have been incorporated and rendered similar to the male subjects of labour history’.6
Defining employment The definition of work is a central theme in histories of women’s employment and professionalism. In fact, the way in which work has been historically defined in Australia has fundamentally shaped women’s access to paid employment, and their position within the formal cash economy. At the most basic level, definitions of work are gendered. A key issue in the historiography of women’s employment and professionalism has been to demonstrate ways in which ‘women’s skills have been historically undervalued, ignored altogether, or judged to be of less importance than those of men’.9 Historians of women’s labour have revealed the gendered nature of the economy and the labour market, the sexual division of labour within the family, and sex segregation and gender segmentation in the work place.10
Personal testimony, biography and autobiography Other literature relevant to the history of women’s employment and professionalism is in the form of personal testimony, biography and/or autobiography. As women were becoming increasingly visible during the 1980s in professions traditionally defined as ‘male’, and moved into senior positions in government and private industry, collections featuring testimonies of ‘career’ women were published.7 These were produced to help facilitate the entry of women into professions, providing ‘role models’ and inspiration to women seeking entry into ‘masculinist’ strongholds of paid employment. These publications coincided with equal employment opportunity campaigns, such as Jobs for the Girls. Similarly, disparate archival collections including trade union papers, records of women’s professional organisations,
In her historiography of women’s labour, Jill Julius Matthews noted a tendency to accept a definition of work that applies to men more readily than to women.11 This explains in part the prevalence of the view that women’s labour has been less significant to the national economy than men’s. However, since the 1980s, feminist scholarship has ‘made clear the ways in which “the worker” has been constituted historically as male, his work and politics dependent on women’s absence, her location elsewhere in the ‘private’ sphere of
Marilyn Lake, ‘The independence of women and the brotherhood of man: Debates in the labour movement over equal pay and motherhood endowment in the 1920s’, Labour History, no. 63, Nov. 1992, p. 2. See for example: Patricia Grimshaw & Lynne Strahan, The Half-open Door: Sixteen Modern Australian Women Look at Life and Achievement, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1982; Madge Dawson & Heather Radi, Against the Odds: Fifteen Professional Women Reflect on their Lives and Careers, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1984.
For references to relevant archival collections, see: Maryanne McCubbin, ‘Women in the paid workforce — Sources available at the University of Melbourne archives’, Lilith: A feminist history journal, no. 6, Spring 1989, pp. 109–116; Kay Daniels, Mary Murnane and Anne Picot, Women in Australia: An Annotated Guide to the Records, AGPS, Canberra, 1977. Important collections are held by the Noel Butlin archives in Canberra. Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans, ‘Gender and productive relations: Introduction’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, p. 222.
ibid., p. 221.
Jill Julius Matthews, ‘Deconstructing the masculine universe: The case of women’s work’, All Her Labours: working it out, Women and Labour Publications Collective (ed.), Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1984, p. 13.
colonies, or to make a generalised distinction between rural and urban, the suburb and the inner city. At the other end of the spectrum, many studies make no reference to place at all. For example, histories of women’s campaign for equal pay — especially its legislative aspects — rarely mention specific places or place types, as these studies are concerned with the minutiae and technicalities of the law and legislative reform.
personal service’.12 At the same time, feminist scholarship has illuminated the considerable contribution women’s labour has made to the national economy, and to the work of nation making. The definition of ‘employment’ and ‘professionalism’ used in this report is broad. While emphasis is given to work for money, the integral relationship between women’s paid labour and their responsibility for and performance of work for unpaid domestic labour is a central theme. The fundamental proposition underpinning the contextual history is the enduring interaction between the public and private spheres.
The relationship between women’s history and place-based heritage has recently been the subject of considerable debate, both in Australia and elsewhere.13 Some have argued that current heritage practices are fundamentally unsuited to reflecting women’s history, and that resources would be better employed addressing the perceived ‘masculinist’ framework of current heritage policies and practices. Others have argued that while women’s history can be reflected within place-based heritage, the perspective is too narrow and too biased in favour of famous women, the middle and upper classes and urban dwellers.
Place and women’s employment history Many histories of women’s employment are fundamentally concerned with place, and usually focus on the relationship between the private sphere and the public sphere. Yet, this overriding concern about the location of women and the sites of their labour, either within the ‘home’ or outside it, does not necessarily translate into a study of actual places. ‘Place’ functions instead as a theoretical category through which to interpret and explain women’s labour particularly in relation to men’s labour. In this respect ‘place’ is a nebulous presence in the history of women’s employment and professionalism.
While acknowledging these constraints, the consultants believe that the history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia should be, and can be, made more visible within the current structure of the nation’s heritage. The national survey of heritage places undertaken as a component of this report revealed many places relevant to the history of women’s employment and professionalism. Although considerably more work is required to assess and promote the significance of those places in terms of women’s employment history, this report —including the framework developed and recommendations made about future directions — constitutes a first step in that much longer process.
Conversely, some histories of women’s employment, especially those emerging from labour history, are site-specific, providing detailed case studies of women’s experience in a particular factory or hospital. However, these studies are often too narrowly focussed to be useful for tracing the place-based dimensions of women’s labour history. In other studies, place features only in terms of drawing comparisons between states or
12 Marilyn Lake, ‘The constitution of political subjectivity and the writing of labour history’, Challenges to Labour History, Terry Irving (ed.), UNSW Press, Sydney, 1994, p. 85.
See Margaret Anderson, ‘In search of women’s public history: Heritage and gender’, Public History Review, vol. 2, 1993, pp. 1–18. See also: Miranda Morris, Placing Women II: A national framework for ensuring the visibility of women in heritage, unpublished report for the Australian Heritage Commission, 1999.
in broad terms, the experience of all women in Australia since colonisation. For example, the association between women and responsibility for the domestic sphere, investigated in Chapter One, is applied universally to women, although individual experiences differed according to class and race.
The contextual history Given the already considerable amount of literature relevant to the history of women’s employment and professionalism, the report aims primarily to interpret the existing history of women’s work through place, with the contextual history identifying significant national themes and identifying their place based dimensions.
The second strand in the contextual history — women in the public work sphere — is sufficiently broad to reflect the fact that, while women have often been excluded from some occupations, they have nonetheless worked alongside men in a capitalist economy. This highlights women’s largely unacknowledged contribution to nation building. Likewise, it provides a perspective on women’s contribution to professions, such as teaching, that are fundamental to the development of civic society.
The contextual history begins with the premise that women’s employment has been fundamental to Australian society across time and place, even though this has not always been acknowledged. The legacy of feminist and labour historians over the last two to three decades has been to demonstrate unequivocally that women’s labour, both paid and unpaid, has contributed immeasurably to the national economy and to Australian social and cultural life.14
The theme explored in Chapter Three — women’s activism around issues of access and equality — is nationally significant because it highlights the ways in which women’s participation in colonial society was linked to women’s quest for the same opportunities and rights as men. The suffrage movement is critical in this respect, contributing new ideas to ways of defining nationhood that challenged traditional notions of womanhood. This theme indirectly exposes nation-making as based on formal and informal processes of excluding certain groups in society, including women.
Rather than re-establish the ‘truth’ of this claim, the contextual history follows an approach pioneered by Grimshaw, Lake, McGrath and Quartly in Creating a Nation15. Their approach acknowledges the contribution of women to nation making and proceeds to illustrate how, when and where women have contributed to critical processes and events not generally explored in national histories. At the same time, Grimshaw et al are attentive to the absence and exclusion of women from particular historical events and processes, aiming to explain the conditions for that exclusion. The history presented in this report adopts this approach, with attention to the ‘sites’ associated with women’s employment, sites associated with processes, and events that facilitated women’s participation in employment and professions.
Structure The report’s structure is broadly thematic, rather than chronologically, geographically, or industry specific. A thematic approach suits the national focus of the contextual history, and enables the exploration of diversity among women across time, class, culture and place. The themes chosen reflect key aspects of
The themes, outlined in the following three chapters, for presenting a history of women’s employment and professionalism are nationally significant because they encompass,
Ryan & Conlon claim that ‘By 1900, after a century of white settlement, the labour of women had been making an essential contribution to the Australian economy’, op. cit., p. 48.
Patricia Grimshaw, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath & Marian Quartly, Creating a Nation, Penguin, Ringwood, 1994.
defined as female and the chapter considers two female-dominated occupations — nursing and teaching. Various sites of women’s labour, both unskilled and skilled, are considered. At the same time, organisations and placetypes aimed at facilitating women’s entry into paid work in the formal economy are explored. This includes professional organisations, childcare centres, girls’ hostels and other organisations that were often established by women for women.
a broad history of women’s employment and professionalism on the one hand, and are linked to, and draw on, the Australian Heritage Commission’s Australian Historic Themes Framework.16 This report does not deal with women’s unpaid labour within the private sphere or the work of Aboriginal women in traditional Aboriginal society.
Chapter 1: Women and Domestic Labour The contextual history begins by revisiting women’s place within the ‘home’, and its relationship to the history of women’s employment. This was an obvious starting point as women have been overwhelmingly responsible for ‘domestic’ work. In this chapter, the ‘house’ is re-presented as a site of paid employment for many women, and thus is redefined as a ‘work place’. The chapter traces the history of domestic labour as a form of paid work for many women, and explores the integral relationship between the domestic sphere and the (often informal) cash economy.
Chapter 3: The struggle for access and equality Chapter Three explores the history of women’s activism around employment issues. It outlines past and contemporary campaigns, struggles, processes, people and events that improved women’s access to paid employment and their rights as workers. Where possible, sites associated with the struggle for equal pay, gender equity within workplaces, and women’s rights including access to paid work, are identified.
Conclusion The conclusion outlines further avenues for research into the place-based dimensions of the history of women’s employment and professionalism. In addition it makes a series of recommendations for the identification of other places associated with, and reflecting the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia.
The chapter argues that the ‘house’ can be reconceptualised as a complex site that engenders diverse histories. In this chapter, the dual roles of the house as a residence and as a workplace is explored through examples such as boarding houses, family farms and laundries.
Chapter 2: Women in the Public Work Sphere
A thematic framework
The second chapter traces the history of women’s entry into work within the public sphere, arguing that this process was primarily the result of the expansion of a capitalist economy.
A thematic framework has been developed to reflect key processes in the history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia. The framework encompasses the period from colonisation onwards, and incorporates as many different types of work as possible. It emphasises themes of national significance, which are discussed in the contextual history. The thematic framework developed is reflected in the list of indicative places at the end of the report.
The chapter considers the ways in which work that had previously been carried out by women within the home was gradually incorporated into the formal market place. Some fields of paid (or formal) employment have traditionally and consistently been
Australian Heritage Commission, Australian Historic Themes: A framework for use in heritage assessment and management, Canberra, 2001.
As discussed in detail in the opening chapter, mapping the heritage of women’s employment requires a reconceptualisation of the ‘home’ as workplace. Reflecting this, the indicative list of places includes homesteads, hotels and corner shops.
A list of indicative places On the basis of the investigation of significant historical themes associated with the history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia, a preliminary list of indicative places for each state has been developed.
Some places have representative value, illustrating a theme identified in the report framework. Other places have rarity value. For example, some homesteads have been listed because they illustrate the theme that houses often doubled as sites of cash economy. Rare places, in contrast, are those that reflect histories of new developments in the history of women’s employment and professionalism. An example of a rare place includes some of the earliest examples of buildings designed by Australia’s first women architects, or the first hospitals established by women for women.
Some of these places are discussed in the body of the report. The list of indicative places has been compiled primarily by searching the Australian Heritage Commission’s Register of the National Estate and existing State and Territory heritage registers. In this respect, the list represents a stock-take of the types of memorialisation of women’s labour that has taken place to date, or that is possible using existing statutory heritage lists. The list reflects the diversity of places associated with the history of women’s labour in Australia, including places of employment, auxiliary places such as girls’ hostels and childcare centres, educational and training institutions, and sites associated with unions and activism around workplace issues. Other places listed include those designed and/or built by women. A few are included because of their association with ‘famous’ women.
While the list of indicative places is fairly broad in scope, considerable more work is required to identify the places which reflect the complexity of women’s work history in Australia. The following contextual history provides a point of entry to this task.
CHAPTER 1 WO M E N A N D D O M E S T I C L A B O U R
In her history of the construction of femininity in Australia, Jill Julius Matthews argues that ‘the home and the marketplace have never been as separate as the ideology has pretended. The home has not been distinct from, but has itself been a domain of paid work’.17 This is evident in two ways. Firstly, domestic service (particularly during the nineteenth century) was the largest employer of women, making other people’s houses a common workplace for many. Secondly, the home has long been a site of cash production for women. Many women have used their houses as places of work, providing services from home or taking in work, enabling them to continue their unpaid responsibilities, such as caring for children in the home. For some women, their place of residence was attached to their place of work. This was certainly the case for women who owned and operated (either independently or with their husbands) hotels or corner stores.
The interpretation and presentation of domestic houses as public heritage has been a contested arena. Linda Young’s investigation of house museums in Australia raises a number of salient issues, including the bias towards preserving houses belonging to upper class men.18 This deep-perceived bias is not easily resolved by simply highlighting the ‘servants’ quarters’. Rather, in terms of preserving and making visible the heritage of women’s labour, the house as public heritage requires new approaches.
‘domestics’ and within the ‘home’. This includes domestic science training institutions (some specifically for Aboriginal girls); the Female Factories in Sydney, Moreton Bay and Hobart which were places of labour supply; sites associated with Caroline Chisholm; and nineteenth-century migrant reception centres. Other relevant places include hotels, shops, family farms and laundries.
DOMESTIC SERVICE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY From the moment of colonisation domestic service was the main occupation for women in Australia, constituting the single largest employer of women throughout most of the
Yet, it is not only the ‘house’ that reflects the locus of women’s labour within the domestic sphere. Various other building types reflect the history of women’s employment, both as
Matthews, op. cit., p. 159.
Linda Young, ‘House museums in Australia’, Public History Review, 1994, pp. 167–187. See also: Marilyn Lake, ‘Historical homes’, in J. Rickard & P. Spearritt (eds), Packaging the Past? Public Histories, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1991.
female factories established in Tasmania. The name ‘Female Factory’ was abbreviated from the British institutional title ‘manufactory’, referring to the prison’s role as a ‘work house’. While incarcerated, the inmates worked at laundry and sewing brought in on contract from the local community. After a period of service, some female convicts were assigned as domestic servants to local properties. In ‘free colonies’ — such as South Australia — extensive immigration schemes were implemented to guarantee the supply of female labour, especially as the early colonial population was overwhelmingly male. According to Margrette Kleinig, ‘from 18721939 ... the overwhelming majority of selected single women were domestic servants, who had been recruited specifically for the South Australian labour market, for employment in private households’.22 Female assisted immigrants arriving in South Australia were accommodated in a government funded reception home before being placed in service. Caroline Chisholm was a central figure in assisting immigrant women to find employment as paid domestic servants.23 Chisholm’s endeavours in relation to single women arriving in New South Wales in the early colonial period were underpinned by the view that the influence of women was necessary for the refinement of the ‘grosser male’. In 1841 she convinced the colonial authorities to reopen the immigration barracks in Sydney as a place of temporary residence for single women immigrants. The immigration barracks (now known as Hyde Park Barracks) functioned as a site of labour supply, with Chisholm finding jobs for women and organising transport for them to country areas. Chisholm was equally
Sketches at the Servants Training Institute, from The Illustrated Australian news, 28 November 1883. (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
nineteenth century.19 For example, according to Katie Spearritt, domestic service remained the exclusive occupation of almost one half of the Queensland female workforce throughout the nineteenth century. Forty-nine per cent of working women in the colony were domestic servants in 1891, 48 per cent in 1901.20 Convict women were confined to limited forms of employment, and most were assigned as domestic servants to private families and government.21 The Female Factories, established in Sydney and Hobart, were centres for both punishment and ‘labour supply’. For example, the Ross Female Factory in Ross, built in the early 1840s, was a gaol for female convicts until 1854. It was one of four
Saunders & Evans, op. cit., p. 291.
K. Spearritt, op. cit., p. 142.
Ryan & Conlon, op. cit., p. 20.
Margrette Kleinig, ‘Independent women — South Australia’s assisted immigrants 1872–1939’, Visible Women: Female Immigrants in Colonial Australia, Eric Richards (ed.), Division of Historical Studies and Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU, 1995, Canberra, p. 113. 22
Grimshaw et al. op cit pp. 87–88
concerned with finding suitable husbands for young single women, as marriage was considered a suitable ‘career option’ for most colonial women.
DOMESTIC SERVICE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY According to Ray Markey, in 1901 almost half of the female workforce was employed in domestic service. But the proportion of women employed in this field had been falling since the 1880s.25 Jill Julius Matthews notes ‘a long and slow decline of the domestic service economy’ from the 1890s onwards, arguing that it began around the time of the expansion of the marketplace and the diversification of both local and commanding economies into manufacturing and commercial services.26
Once placed in paid positions, domestic servants experienced considerable isolation. Young single women, living in other people’s houses and working long hours, had little time to meet others of a similar station. This was a critical barrier to organising domestic servants into unions. According to Beverley Kingston, ‘nowhere do the problems which confronted women who needed to organise themselves into unions present themselves more strikingly than in the various attempts made between 1890 and World War I to organise domestic servants’.24 While some efforts were made to organise domestic servants into workers unions, none succeeded. Kingston notes the existence of some women’s unions around the late nineteenth century, such as the Female Employees’ Union of NSW and the Victorian Domestic Workers’ Union, but little is known about them.
In the absence of a pool of European women available for domestic service (who had begun to seek employment in factories and other non-domestic workplaces), Aboriginal women became a dominant source of cheap domestic labour. From the late nineteenth century many Aboriginal women worked as domestic servants for non-Aboriginal people. As part of their ‘civilising mission’ various missionary organisations trained young Aboriginal girls in domestic skills.27
Domestic servants received little formal training and were expected to learn ‘on the job’. The arts of domestic service were presumed to have been learnt at home, and to have been an inherent component of womanhood. One of the few training institutions in the early colonial period was the Female School of Industry which was established in Sydney around 1837 with Eliza Darling as principal.
Later, the training of Aboriginal girls for domestic service was a component of government policies directed at the control of Aboriginal women’s labour. With the decrease in non-Aboriginal women working as domestics in the first half of the twentieth century, Aboriginal women were recruited in increasing numbers to work in non-Aboriginal women’s houses. Aboriginal women’s experiences as domestic servants have been the subject of autobiographies. For example, Glenyse Ward has described her period as a domestic servant in private homes in Perth.28
Kingston, op. cit., p. 51.
Ray Markey, ‘Women and labour 1880–1900’, Women, Class and History: Feminist Perspectives on Australia 1788–1978, Elizabeth Windschuttle (ed.), Fontana/Collins, 1980, p. 87. 25
Matthews, op. cit., p. 66.
Saunders & Evans, op. cit., p. 232.
28 Glenyse Ward, Wandering Girl, Magabala Books, Broome, 1987. See also: Jackie Huggins, ‘White aprons, black hands: Aboriginal women domestic servants in Queensland’, Aboriginal Workers, Ann McGrath & Kay Saunders (eds), Special issue of Labour History, no. 69, Nov. 1995; Marnie Kennedy, Born a Half-caste, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, 1985.
Domestic staff at Go Go Station, Western Australia, 1952. The group includes those employed as cooks, laundresses, waitresses, cleaners, needle-women and bakers (by permission of the National Library of Australia)
The training of Aboriginal women for domestic service was carried out both on missions and in government-run homes and hostels. The Cootamundra Girls Home was the major training institution for Aboriginal girls in New South Wales. Many girls sent to Cootamundra had been forcibly taken from their families, and form part of what is now known as the ‘stolen generations’29. In the Northern Territory, the Retta Dixon Girls Home was a site associated with the training of Aboriginal girls as domestics. Other institutions facilitated Aboriginal women’s participation in the domestic labour economy in the twentieth century. Ann McGrath notes the establishment in the 1920s of ‘compounds’ in Darwin ‘to house domestic labour required by local residents’.30
science were established such as the Emily McPherson College in Melbourne. The college was set up in the 1920s, with the help of a bequest from William McPherson. The College of Domestic Economy, established in 1906, and a Domestic Arts Hostel for training teachers, established in Melbourne in 1911 are other examples.
THE ‘HIDDEN’ ECONOMY The Australian economy has been defined by the existence of ‘a dual, symbiotic economic order’31, which it fundamentally gendered. Women have been largely confined to the domestic sphere, and concomitantly denied equal access to paid employment outside the home. Yet, this does not mean that women have not engaged in paid employment at all. It only means that their patterns of employment and participation in the economy have been fundamentally different from men’s, and that economists have generally been blind to women’s productive labour.
By the early part of the twentieth century, a more scientific approach to domestic labour (and indeed to mothering) had emerged, and it was considered necessary to train most young girls in the domestic sciences. Domestic science became a component of girls’ education and many schools of domestic
29 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing them home: report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families, Commissioner Ronald Wilson, Sydney 1997. 30 Ann McGrath, ‘Spinifex fairies: Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory 1911-1939’, Women, Class and History: Feminist Perspectives on Australia 1788-1978, Elizabeth Windschuttle (ed.), Fontana/Collins, Melbourne, 1980, p. 244. 31
Matthews, op. cit., p. 48.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Australia, ‘there has existed a sector of small-scale production parallel with the large-scale, commanding economy’32 which Matthews describes as ‘under-thecounter, informal, home-based or family production’.33 It is within this ‘hidden’ economy, where the home is a locus of economic production, that women’s labour can be found. In the nineteenth century, ‘many married women, even when a male provider was present, engaged in extensive earning activities in their homes in order to extend their productive capacities alongside their reproductive responsibilities’.34 This work has seldom been acknowledged as productive labour in the work of economic historians. But feminist historians increasingly stress the value of women’s contribution in the ‘hidden’ economy.
Students and staff at Emily McPherson college, 1947 (La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
became the resort of urban women in times of greater need or economic crises. ... Women established their own laundressing businesses from home, made clothes for bachelors on the northern goldfields, took in infants to nurse, assisted their husbands in small-scale commercial enterprises’.36
Frances argues that ‘related to our ignorance about the history of housework is the very sketchy historical treatment of the informal neighbourhood economy engaged in by women’.35 Similarly, Katie Spearritt argues that ‘supplemental work in domestic industry
Women frequently turned their houses into work places. One example among many, was the practice of taking in lodgers, or turning homes into boarding houses. For many other women, their home was also the corner shop, or local hotel. While a small number of women were independent entrepreneurs, many more worked alongside their husbands in inns, hotels, shops or workshops, some effectively running businesses while their husbands worked elsewhere.37 Many women regularly took in work, such as laundering or tailoring. Outworking has long been a source of income for working class women with home-based responsibilities such as childcare. With the growth of manufacturing, outworking, also known as ‘sweating’, illustrated the place of women within the capitalist economy as a cheap (but essential) labour force.38
Façade, Emily McPherson College (courtesy of Heritage Victoria)
32 ibid., p. 55. 33 ibid., p. 56. 34 Saunders & Evans, op. cit., p. 223. 35 Frances, op. cit., p. 251. 36 K. Spearritt, op. cit., p. 140. 37 Margaret Anderson, ‘Good strong girls: Colonial women and work’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, 243. 38 Saunders & Evans, op. cit., p. 223.
WOMEN ON THE LAND Taking up land for agricultural and pastoral purposes is a major theme in Australian history, but the role of women within this enterprise is not well understood. Many feminist historians note the importance of women’s labour to the viability of farming in Australia. Ann Curthoys notes that ‘German women were active in the earliest productive agriculture in South Australia’.42 Similarly, Katie Spearritt claims that by 1871, 29 per cent of the female workforce of 8419 recorded in the colonial census [in Queensland] were engaged in pastoral and agricultural pursuits.43 Women’s labour is most visible in relation to the ‘family farm’, where female family members assisted in the running of the farm and in providing a steady source of subsistence income. According to Matthews, ‘the wife and younger and female children, and menfolk when available, produced as much as possible for daily living and to sell for cash: keeping a few chickens, cows and pigs, growing vegetables and fruit, preserving,
Tobacconist and stationer shop in the Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia, established by Miss E Murray. Photo c. 1900 (courtesy of Battye Library).
Other women, especially from the middle classes, ‘offered their services from home, as teachers of music, dancing and French, or by undertaking sewing, millinery, feather cleaning or mantua-making’.39 This pattern of work was especially significant ‘when husbands were incapacitated, or [had] died’.40 Many middle class women, denied access to paid employment, frequently engaged in charity or philanthropic work from within the private domain. Since it was unpaid, this work has been largely invisible in labour histories.41 Yet, it was predominantly women’s unpaid labour that provided the social services now considered essential responsibilities of government such as health care, child care and family support.
Mrs Massurit feeding poultry at ‘Woodburn’, Bumberry, NSW, c. 1890 (Bicentennial Copying Project, State Library of New South Wales)
Grimshaw et al, op. cit., p. 128.
See for example: Melanie Oppenheimer, ‘Voluntary work and labour history’, Labour History, no. 74, May 1998, pp. 1–9.
Curthoys, op. cit., p. 90.
K. Spearritt, op. cit., p. 135.
making bread and clothes’. Similarly, according to Anderson, ‘many women managed farming properties in their husband’s absences’. In Queensland, ‘the distinctive rural axis that characterised the colony’s development ensured women on stations and farms played a vital role in family survival’.44 Although less common, some farms were owned and operated by women. One of the best-known is a property operated by Caroline Newcomb and Ann Drysdale in the Port Phillip District. In 1843, they bought the rights to Coriyule, located on the Bellarine Peninsula near present day Drysdale, eventually gaining freehold possession over part of the run. Between 1843 and 1850, the two women pastoralists operated the station, employing overseers and servants.45 Blythbourne, on the outskirts of Canberra, represents a later example of a property owned and operated by women only. In addition to properties individually owned by women, there is evidence of some collective farming enterprises involving women. The Mount Alexander Silk Worm Farm in Victoria is one such example. In 1872, Mrs Bladen Neill and the Victorian Ladies Sericultural Company established a silk worm farm on land at Mount Alexander, obtained through a grant from the Minister of Lands. The farm was one of the first sericulture ventures established by a co-operative group rather than an individual.
‘Coriyule’, Victoria, managed from 1843-1859 by leaseholders Caroline Newcomb and Ann Drysdale (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
Aboriginal women’s labour has long been vital, although largely historiographically invisible, to the Australian pastoral industry. Ann McGrath’s work on Aboriginal people’s participation in the cattle industry in the Northern Territory has exposed the central role of Aboriginal women in the operation of large stations. Their labour was essential in the care of children, cooking and cleaning around the homestead. Frequently, though, Aboriginal women also engaged in more physical forms of labour on properties.
K. Spearritt, ibid., p. 146.
‘Caroline Newcomb and Anne Drysdale: Pastoralists’, Marilyn Lake & Farley Kelly (eds), Double Time: Women in Victoria — 150 Years, Penguin, Ringwood, 1985.
Women preparing for muster in the Northern Territory, c. 1950 (by permission of the John Oxley Library)
CONCLUSION From the late nineteenth century, nonAboriginal women’s participation in domestic service declined. At the same time, the forms of economic production traditionally performed at home also declined. This pattern was the effect fundamentally of the expansion of the capitalist economy. Manufacturing became more centralised, and young women became the participants in this new economy. At the same time, ‘the physical circumstances in which housework and childcare have been performed altered substantially. The local economy has largely been supplanted by women taking up part-time and full-time work in the commanding economy’.46 This changing nature of women’s participation in the formal economy is explored in the next chapter.
46 Matthews, op. cit., p. 172.
CHAPTER 2 WO M E N I N T H E P U B L I C WO R K S P H E R E
This chapter provides a general overview of the history of women’s entry into, and participation in, paid work in the public sphere. Work in the public sphere is defined broadly as that performed outside the home for wages. The emphasis throughout the chapter is identifying how a history of women’s employment and professionalism can be reflected through place. In this respect, the various occupations, historical processes and significant women chosen for discussion are those which readily lend themselves to commemoration through place-based heritage. For example, the work of women architects, women’s work patterns during the wars and individual women who pioneered women’s access to particular industries and professions are covered in considerable detail. Given the scope of this report, the discussion of various aspects of the history of women’s participation in the public work sphere is necessarily limited. Further areas and topics for research for this broad thematic strand are discussed in the Conclusion and Recommendations for Further Research.
over the [nineteenth] century the locus or site of production moved away from the home. Many goods for household consumption and local barter, especially food and clothing were made at home during the 1890s, from substances either grown there or in the neighbourhood. Such production slowly lessened, and household goods were made outside the home and bought for cash. Similarly, services once performed within and around the household were circumscribed and downgraded, and ‘superior’ replacements or improvements were offered for sale in the marketplace.47
WOMEN IN PAID EMPLOYMENT OUTSIDE THE HOME From the late nineteenth century, women increasingly participated in paid employment in the public sphere. Opportunities for women to enter the ‘professions’, such as teaching, nursing, science, architecture, medicine and pharmacy, increased at this time, especially as women began to be admitted (in small numbers) into universities and other forms of tertiary education. At the same time, the market-based economy expanded, incorporating women’s labour into areas such as manufacturing, retail and the service industry. According to Jill Julius Matthews:
Matthews, op. cit., pp. 56–57.
While the historical experience of Aboriginal and migrant women workers is not wellunderstood, it seems true that it has been qualitatively different from that of ‘other’ women, particularly as their access to paid work has been restricted by structural forms of racism and discrimination. Within this chapter, some reference is made to Aboriginal and migrant women’s participation in the public, paid workforce, although it is strongly recommended that further detailed research be conducted in this area.
Thus, from the late nineteenth century onwards, it is possible to trace a history of women’s increasing participation in the ‘formal economy’. Their involvement is reflected in various place types, some unambiguously representative of the heritage of women’s labour, others significant for their association with pioneer women and/or outstanding events. Women’s participation in paid employment in the public sphere differs across place, class and culture. Raelene Frances identifies regional differences in women’s employment in the twentieth century, stating that ‘patterns have varied in timing and intensity depending on where one lived. Australia’s cities and towns differed in economic structure and rates of growth, so that employment patterns varied considerably depending on whether one is referring to Melbourne, Sydney, the smaller capital cities such as Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart or Perth, provincial cities like Ballarat, Albany, Toowoomba, or country towns like Mackay, Port Augusta, Broome, or Wonthaggi’.48 Similarly, the opportunities available to middle-class women were qualitatively different from those available to working-class women. Likewise, marriage status was a critical factor shaping women’s participation in waged work outside the home.
ENTERING THE PROFESSIONS The movement of women into the ‘professions’ in Australia can be traced to the late nineteenth century period,49 facilitated in part by the gradual admission of women into universities. The entry of women into professional occupations was pioneered by a small number of women, mostly from the middle classes. While women have continued to participate in many professions, the emphasis here is on documenting the period in which the first wave of women made important inroads into ‘male’ occupations, facilitating the subsequent entry of women into professional fields of endeavour. It is a history characterised by the achievements of individual women, and by the establishment of women’s organisations aimed at supporting professional women.
For many women, pursuing a professional career meant not marrying. For others, widowhood or divorce made paid work outside the home a necessity. In the historiography of women’s paid employment in the public sphere, the experience of Aboriginal women and migrant women constitutes only a minor strand. In many respects, their experiences do not fit easily into the histories that have been written about ‘white’ women, and require the development of new approaches.
Frances, op. cit., p. 249.
Anderson, op. cit., p. 241.
In recent feminist historiography, a ‘famous women’ approach has been criticised as assimilationist, incorporating women into an historical work paradigm that has been defined as ‘masculinist’. While acknowledging these debates, it is valid here to give emphasis to the period in which women entered the professions, and to highlight the achievements of the first women to do so, given that this provided an important precedent in the continued and expanding participation of women in professions in Australia throughout the twentieth century to the present.
This section has a decidedly metropolitan focus given that the types of places indicative of this historical theme include universities, professional organisation meeting rooms and professional workplaces, most of which were located within the capital cities.
As MacKinnon argues in relation to the first women graduates in South Australia, the entry of women into higher education was equally traditionalist and radical. On the one hand, arguments in favour of women’s access to higher education were worded in terms of their ‘role as equal partners in the task of building a colonial society’50. Women with professional qualifications, especially in medicine and education, were thought to play a critical role in ‘shaping new generations of Australian youth’.51 However at the same time, women’s entry into university education provided many women with new choices, and contributed to changing perceptions about the role of women in Australian society. For some women, education provided an avenue to participation in public life, although many continued to experience the constraints imposed by childrearing and domestic responsibilities.
University Women In the late nineteenth century, small numbers of middle-class women gained access to Australian universities. Bella Guerin was the first woman graduate of an Australian university, gaining a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne in 1883.52 She was followed by Edith Emily Dornwell who graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1885. Women were first admitted as students at the University of Sydney in 1882. The first two women to graduate from the University of Sydney were Isola Florence Thompson and Mary Elizabeth Brown, both of whom completed their degrees in 1885. After graduation they worked as teachers, Isola Thompson at Sydney Girls’ High School and Mary Brown at the Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School.53
In this section, after reviewing the admission of women to university education generally in Australia in the late nineteenth century, a handful of professions into which women gradually gained access from that period onwards are considered. Various criteria have been used in the selection of professions discussed including their national significance, their under-representation in existing historiography, and their representativeness in place-based heritage. The discussion is by no means exhaustive, but rather aims to highlight important themes in women’s entry into professions in Australia. It provides a framework for exploring a history of women’s public, paid work through places associated with their employment.
Bella Guerin graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1883, the first woman graduate from an Australian university (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
50 Alison MacKinnon, The New Women: Adelaide’s Early Women Graduates, Wakefield Press in association with the University of Adelaide Foundation, Adelaide, 1986, p. 15. 51
MacKinnon, op cit, p.15.
Ruth Teale (ed.) Colonial Eve: Sources on Women in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1978, p. 204.
Marjorie Theobald, Knowing women: origins of women’s education in nineteenth-century Australia, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1996.
Students outside the Women’s College, University of Sydney, c 1932 (Hood Collection, State Library of New South Wales)
The movement of early university-educated women into secondary teaching has been well documented. According to Farley Kelly, nearly 70 per cent of the women to graduate from the University of Melbourne by 1906 became secondary teachers. Some women graduates became headmistresses at prestigious girls’ schools. Others worked in privately owned girls’ schools, some as owner-principals. For example, Constance Tisdall’s family owned Rosbercon, a progressive school for girls; Merton Hall was brought by Mary Morris and her family from Emily Hensley in 1898; and Katie Tait and Mary Brady were the proprietors of Hohenlohe College in Warrnambool.54 These girls-only schools are significant sites in the history of women’s employment, not only as sites of women’s paid labour as teachers, educational administrators and headmistresses but also as places where many girls were prepared for entry into matriculation courses at university.
Wedgewood in 1935. An establishing committee for the college had been formed in 1887, following on from the entry of women to the university in the early 1880s. Sydney Women’s College was publicly funded, making it different from the denominational Trinity Women’s Hostel at the University of Melbourne. The first Women’s College was established in a rented house in the vicinity of the university. In 1894, it was relocated to new premises on campus. At the University of Melbourne, the history of residences for female students was different. While Trinity Women’s Hostel, a Church of England institution, was established for women students at the University of Melbourne in 1886, it was not until 1937 that the independent Women’s College was established. Women’s colleges were not only places of residence for women students, but also places of employment for women graduates. Two science graduates from the University of Melbourne became principals of women’s colleges — Freda Bage at Queensland University’s Women’s College and Margery Herring at Janet Clarke Hall (formerly Trinity Women’s Hostel) in Melbourne.55
As universities gradually opened their doors to women, women-only colleges were established. Women’s College opened at the University of Sydney in 1892. Its first principal was Louisa Macdonald. She was followed by Susie Williams in 1919 and Camilla
ibid. p. 68.
‘newly completed Fisher Library’.58 As the number of women students grew, Manning House was ‘built to replace the inadequate weatherboard Common Room’.59 Female students at the University of Adelaide were even less well catered for than their sisters in Melbourne and Sydney. According to Theobald, ‘female undergraduates had only a cold and uncomfortable common room until 1917 when they were accommodated in a small cottage on the western boundary. This was replaced by the Lady Symon building in 1929’.60
Clubs and professional organisations for women students and graduates, such as the Victorian Women Graduates’ Association, were important sources of support for women participating in university education and entering male-dominated courses and professions. Constance Tisdall, recalling her first day at the University of Melbourne in 1898, remembers being taken by another female student to the women’s clubrooms ‘above the lecture rooms of law professor, Harrison Moore’.56 The club was the Princess Ida Club which Theobald describes as the ‘centre of female undergraduate life at the University of Melbourne’ between 1888 and 1915.57 Farley Kelly stated that it provided female students and graduates with a ‘protected enclave, a source of enduring friendships and a sense of collective identity’.
Medical Women While some feminist historians have argued that the movement of women university graduates into teaching did not constitute a radical development (only a reshaping of a traditional female profession), the education of women doctors has been considered in more positive terms. In 1887 five women entered the medical faculty at the University of Melbourne, although only after they mounted a vigorous campaign. Unlike their entry into general arts degrees, the desire of women to gain access to medical faculties met with considerable resistance. Clara Stone and Margaret Whyte were the first to graduate in 1891.
At the University of Sydney, a separate place was provided for female students from 1885 onwards, firstly in a temporary building in the quadrangle and by 1910 in a room known as the Women’s Common Room behind the
Women doctors, especially in Melbourne, were active in providing health services to women. The Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne was founded by women for women. Theobald suggests that its establishment was also the effect of the discrimination experienced by early women doctors attempting to gain employment as residents in the large general hospitals, including the Melbourne Hospital.61 The Queen Victoria hospital is associated with Dr Constance Stone, one of the first women
Doctors and nursing staff attending a patient at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Melbourne, 1942 (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
Farley Kelly (ed.), ‘Learning and teaching science: Women making careers 1890–1920’, On the Edge of Discovery: Australian Women in Science, Text Publishing, Melbourne, p. 55.
Theobald, op. cit., p. 72.
ibid., p. 70.
Laura Fowler (nee Hope), Helen Mayo, Rosamond Benham (nee Taylor) and Phyllis McGlew (nee Cilento).63
medical graduates from the University of Melbourne, and with the Victorian Medical Women’s Society. The Victorian Medical Women’s Society was made up of women doctors including Constance Stone, Lilian Alexander, Amy Castilla, Freda Gamble, Janet Greig, Gertrude Halley, Jane Greig, Bertha Main, Helen Sexton, Clara Stone and Mary Stone, all of whom were involved in establishing the Queen Victoria Hospital. The hospital grew out of an outpatients’ clinic established in La Trobe Street by the women doctors. The Singleton Medical Centre in Melbourne is another significant site in the history of early women doctors, as the first practice to employ a female doctor, Dr Laura Morgan.
Pharmacists In New South Wales, prior to the 1880s and before the professionalisation of pharmacy, five women were registered as pharmacists.64 They were Annie Davison of Gundagai, Lusitania Caspersonn of Tumut, Selina Getty of Carcoar, Mary Neilson of Windsor, and Augusta Maria Wyse of Corowa and Deniliquin. Most were the wives of country doctors.65 In 1897, a new Pharmacy Act was passed which required registered chemists to be better trained and to be examined by the Pharmacy Board. According to Wunsch, the 1897 Act introduced a new era in which a small number of women began to train academically as pharmacists.66 In 1902, Louisa Wilson was the first academically trained woman to register as a chemist in New South Wales, followed soon afterwards by Miriam Parkes and Margaret McPherson.67 Women were also practicing chemists in other states. In Victoria, the Former Chemist Shop, Elwood, listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, is associated with Alice Kelso Barker, one of the first women chemists in Australia.
At the University of Sydney, the first woman to enrol in medicine was Dagmar Berne in 1885. Although Berne did not graduate from the University of Sydney, finishing her training in Britain, she later returned to Sydney to practise medicine. Berne’s admission to the University of Sydney was followed by Iza Coghlan and Grace Fairley Robinson, both of whom graduated from medicine in 1893. According to Theobald, women doctors experienced resistance to their practicing in city hospitals. The founding of the Rachael Foster Hospital in Sydney in the 1920s parallels the work of female doctors establishing the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne. This was not only a hospital providing health services to women, but also a site for the professional support and development of women in the medical profession.62
During the twentieth century, the number of women practicing as pharmacists rose gradually. In the first decade of the twentieth century only three women chemists were registered, however in the second decade, 16 women chemists were registered in New South Wales. Emma Louise Alma Reye registered in 1911, and later became the first President of the Association of Women Pharmacists when it was formed in 1933. In 1914, Miss
In Adelaide, by the early part of the twentieth century a small number of women had graduated with medical degrees. This included
See Louella McCarthy, Uncommon Practices: Women in Medicine in NSW, 1885–1939, PhD thesis, UNSW, forthcoming.
Theobald, op. cit., p. 71.
G. Poiner, G. & R. Burke, ‘Feminised fields: A study of education, social work and pharmacy’, Australian Journal of Pharmacy, v. 69, no. 814, January 1988, pp. 59–63.
65 Gregory Haines, ‘The grains and threepennorths of pharmacy: pharmacy in New South Wales 1788–1976’, Lowden Publishing, Kilmore, Australia, 1976, p. 34; Elizabeth Wunsch, ‘Early Women Pharmacists of NSW’, The Australasian Journal of Pharmacy, April 30, 1962, p. 320. 66
Wunsch, op. cit., p. 321.
ibid., p. 320.
Fitzgibbons was registered as a pharmacist; after working at the Coast Hospital at Little Bay for six years, she opened her own pharmacy at South Kensington. Annie B. Orr was the first female chemist to ‘qualify for the B.Sc degree’68 in 1916. She went into partnership with her father in Strathfield. The First World War may have contributed to an increase in the number of women employed as chemists filling the gap left by enlisted men.
Between 1893 and 1920, 62 women graduated with science degrees from the University of Melbourne. The third woman to graduate from the University of Melbourne, Dr Georgina Sweet, a zoologist, was awarded the David Syme Prize for Research in 1911 ‘for work on the problem of worm nodules in cattle’.70 Her research was directly beneficial to Australia’s beef export industry. According to Kelly, by 1920 Sweet had ‘become Australia’s leading parasitologist’.71 Leonora Jessie Little was the first women to graduate with a science degree from the University of Melbourne. She received honours scholarships in biology in 1893 and in geology and palaeontology in 1894.72 Ada Lambert graduated in 1895. The group of more than 60 women who graduated in science from the University of Melbourne before 1920, ‘amassed over 40 scholarships and prizes and innumerable exhibitions in chemistry, natural philosophy, biology (zoology and botany), physiology, geology and palaeontology’.73 Many taught at the university and its colleges as well as at private girls’ schools and the College of
According to Haines, in 1933 six per cent of registered pharmacists in New South Wales were women, while two per cent owned their own business. The Association of Women Pharmaceutical Chemists, which was established in this period, aimed to improve the employment of women within the pharmaceutical industry and to gain representation for women on the Pharmacy Guild. By the 1950s, the Association was federated. While the first chair of pharmacy was established in 1960, it was not until 1974 that the first woman occupied that position at the University of Sydney.
Scientists Throughout the twentieth century, women entered the science profession in increasing numbers, contributing in significant ways to research and teaching in a range of fields. The entry of women into the science profession is generally associated with the 1880s when women were permitted to enrol at university. Emily Dornwell completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Adelaide, making her the first female graduate in South Australia and the first female science graduate at the University.69 From this time onwards, women participated in science courses at universities throughout Australia, many going on to have distinguished careers.
Student at Technical College, East Sydney, NSW, 1949 (Hood Collection, State Library of New South Wales)
Maroske in Kelly, 1993. See also: MacKinnon, 1986.
Kelly, op. cit., p. 37.
ibid., p. 39.
ibid., p. 44
Domestic Economy (later the Emily McPherson College). Others worked as researchers for commonwealth and state governments, and those who worked as doctors ‘made contributions in public and infant health and pathology’.74
particularly houses’.79 The only house exclusively attributable to Ruth Alsop was a house built for her and her two sisters in Croydon, Melbourne. Muriel Stott was articled to Fisher & Bradshaw in about 1912, completing her apprenticeship in 1916. By 1921, she had designed seven houses.80 She was responsible, and most well known, for designing Little Milton in 1926 which was her largest commissioned work, and her last work in Australia before leaving in 1931. Little Milton is also associated with the well-known landscape designer, Edna Walling. Muriel Stott was registered as an architect in 1923.
Architects Other professions were a little slower to admit women to their ranks. For example, women did not begin to work formally as architects until the beginning of the twentieth century. The first professional woman architect in Australia was Florence Taylor (nee Parsons), who began working in the early 1900s.75 Among her other achievements, Taylor was the first woman in Australia to qualify as an engineer, to fly, and to work as a town planner, a journalist and publisher. With her husband, she was editor of Building magazine from 1907 to 1961.76 According to Willis, Parsons ‘had completed the requisite training in architecture, [but] her application for membership of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales was refused in 1907.’77
Eileen Good was articled in 1912, and like Stott, completed them in 1916. She then enrolled in the Diploma of Architecture at the University of Melbourne, only ‘the third woman to do so’.81 She was the first women to become an associate of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects. In 1924, she was appointed as Senior Demonstrator in architecture at the University of Melbourne. Other early Australian women architects working in the 1920s included Cynthea Teague, Ellison Harvie and Mary Turner Shaw.82 Ellison Harvie and Mary Turner Shaw were employed by the Melbourne firm of Stephenson and Meldrum (later Stephenson and Turner) and worked exclusively on hospital design.83 Ellison Harvie was ‘in charge of all the business arrangements in connection with the building of the Women’s Block at the Jessie Macpherson Hospital, and also the Mercy’.84 Mary Turner Shaw became a partner
During the same period, other women qualified as architects in Victoria, among them Ruth Alsop, Muriel Stott and Eileen Good. All practiced professionally. Ruth Alsop was the first woman in Victoria to qualify as an architect.78 Beginning in about 1907 she worked with her architect brother, Rodney, at his firm Klingender & Alsop, where she completed her articles. According to Willis, Klingender & Alsop ‘produced some highly regarded work in Melbourne,
ibid., p. 45.
See: Julie Willis, ‘Designing comfortable homes: Women in little known jobs’, Fabrications, vol. 10, Aug. 1999, pp. 46–61. See also: Christa Ludlow, ‘Florence Taylor’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12, 176–77. Florence Taylor’s papers are held at the Mitchell Library.
See: Bronwyn Hanna, ‘Florence Taylor’s Hats’, Architecture Bulletin, 1994, 4–5. See also: Ro Murray, B.Arch. thesis, University of NSW, 1976.
Willis, op. cit., p. 47
Julie Willis, ‘Four early women architects in Victoria’, Architectural Theory Review, vol. 1, no. 1, April 1996, 95–103.
ibid., p. 97.
ibid., p. 97.
ibid., p. 98.
Willis, op. cit., p. 50.
Nora Cooper, ‘Women in Architecture’, Transition, Winter, 1988, 44–46. This article was first published in The Australian Home Beautiful, 1 August 1936.
Cooper, op. cit., p. 44.
with Frederic Romberg, and later joined the Australian Public Service. She was involved in the Newburn Flats in Queens Road, Melbourne, and Yarrabee Flats in Walsh Street, South Yarra. Cynthia Teague, who worked at Oakley & Parkes, was primarily engaged in public building design and construction. Edith C. Ingpen was a well-known Melbourne architect who practiced on her own. Her largest completed work is a block of flats in East Melbourne. Mrs Lorna Phillips, in collaboration with Mr Moresby, worked on the remodelling of the rooms to house the Lyceum Club in Collins Street.
became Assistant Director General for Prestige and Special Projects, the first woman in the Department of Public Works to reach the Second Division. Lily Addison was the first woman recorded as having engaged in technical work in an architectural firm in Queensland, beginning in about 1906. Lily was the daughter of a well-known Queensland architect, G.H.M. Addison, and practised in his office. According to Judith McKay, in about 1916 Lily Addison completed Building Construction and History of Architecture at the Brisbane Central Technical College.87 But while trained and employed in architecture, Addison’s work is not remembered. McKay notes that ‘no designs have been attributed to her’.
Many women architects worked for the government during World War II, a period that has been glossed over in general histories of architecture in Australia.85 According to Schoffel:
Beatrice Hutton is generally known as the first woman architect in Queensland. She became an associate member of the Queensland Institute of Architects in 1916, after being apprenticed to E. M. Hockings in Rockhampton for three years. The Queensland Institute of Architects was the first in Australia to admit a woman, albeit as an associate rather than a full member. According to Judith McKay, ‘several wide verandah houses in Rockhampton have been attributed to Beatrice Hutton’s early career, but it is not yet possible to distinguish her contribution to the work of Hockings and Palmer’, the firm for whom she worked. She is known for two residences in Rockhampton — the Frank Rudd residence (c.1923) and her parents’ retirement cottage (c.1930). Hutton moved to Sydney in late 1916, where she worked for Claude Chambers. Hutton assisted designing the New South Wales Masonic Club in Castlereagh Street and Sirius House (c. 1926) in Macquarie Place, and also designed a house for her uncle in Cranbrook Road, Bellevue Hill called Ngarita (c.1926). She retired from architecture in 1934 when she returned to Rockhampton.
building activity increased during the war years. Large, programmatically complex buildings, such as hospitals, multiple family hostels and factories, took precedence and had to be planned, resolved and constructed. Many women architects and draftspeople worked on these projects and contributed to their success. During this period Stephenson & Turner’s office alone produced such buildings as the Royal Melbourne Hospital (1942), the Yaralla Military Hospital (1942) and the Sydney Dental Hospital (1940), all of which are now regarded as significant examples of ‘functional modernism’ in Australia.86
While some women remained with the large firms such as Stephenson & Turner, others left the private sector to work for the government. Mary Turner Shaw was employed as an architect at the Commonwealth Department of Allied Services in 1941, the first woman to hold this position. Cynthia Teague also joined the public service during World War II, staying on after the war was over. In 1964, she
See: Sarah Schoffel, ‘Women in architecture in Victoria from 1930 to 1960’, Architectural Theory Review, vol. 1, no. 1, April 1996, pp. 107–108.
ibid, p. 108.
Judith McKay, ‘Early Queensland women architects’, Transition, Winter, 1988, pp. 58–60.
Elina Mottram was another well-known Queensland architect. In April 1924 she opened her own office in the T and G Building in Brisbane. While practicing in Brisbane, she designed the Dunlop residence, Monkton (1925) in Ardoyne Road, Corinda. From 1926, she practiced on her own in Longreach where ‘she was architect of many houses and public buildings, including the Masonic Temple and Longreach Motors’.88 She subsequently worked as an architect for Queensland Railways, designing a new station at Eagle Junction.
established as the first school of horticulture in Australia in 1891. She was the first full-time women horticultural student in 1914, and the first woman instructor in 1916. By the end of the 1930s, she had developed a successful garden design practice and was writing for Home Beautiful. Her work was considerably more small scale and suburban than Edna Walling’s. While she designed over five hundred gardens throughout Melbourne, they have not been celebrated or widely remembered. Emily Gibson, after finishing the course at Burnley College in 1917, joined Walter and Marion Griffin’s office. There she worked on the Newman College buildings and landscape, where extensive use was made of indigenous plants. Between 1918 and 1922, she worked as an instructor at Burnley, the second woman employed in this capacity. In 1924, after two years in London, she was the horticultural writer for the Argus, and later for the Australasian. During the 1950s and 1960s, Gibson was a landscape consultant. Among her larger projects were the Shell Oil Refinery at Geelong, the Glaxo Factory at Bayswater and the Vacuum Oil Terminal at Altona.
In recent scholarship, Marion Mahony Griffin has been recast from Walter Burley Griffin’s helpmate to an architect in her own right. Following their work on the design of Canberra, Mahony Griffin and her husband established a practice in Melbourne. Mahony Griffin worked on designs for the Newman College between 1915 and 1917, Cafe Australia (1915), Capitol House (1921), the Eaglemont community plan (1916-1923), and plans for the towns of Leeton and Griffith in New South Wales. Her best known work is in Castlecrag in Sydney, where, according to Anna Rubbo, ‘her interest had shifted from the making of architecture to the making of community’.89
Landscape Designers Landscape architecture is a field in which women have long played a central role.90 The most well-known Australian woman landscape architect is Edna Walling, but she was not the only one. Indeed, it has been suggested that the exceptional quality of Walling’s career and achievements has overshadowed other women landscape designers working in Australia in the same period. These other women include Olive Mellor and Emily Gibson who, like Walling, had migrated from Britain. Mellor trained at Burnley Horticultural College, which had been
Newman College, Melbourne, 1994. The grounds were landscaped by Emily Gibson, and Marion Mahoney Griffin was involved with the architectural design of the college (AHC collection)
McKay, op. cit., p. 60.
Anna Rubbo, ‘Marion Mahoney and Walter Burley Griffin: A creative partnership’, Architectural Theory Review, vol. 1, no. 1, April 1996, p. 90.
Jane Shepherd, ‘Early women landscape architects: Olive Mellor and Emily Gibson’, Transition, Winter, 1988, pp. 61–63.
Inaugural meeting of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association, Bankstown, NSW, 16 September 1950 (by permission of the National Library of Australia)
Walton was commandant of the Women’s Air Training Corps in New South Wales.92 Other early Australian woman aviators were Freda Thomspon, Paddy Bell and Jane Barling. Connie Karula was ‘one of the first qualified aeronautical engineers in Australia’. In 1939, she was assistant engineer at the Royal Queensland Aero Club and later joined the staff of Qantas.
Pilots Women began to participate as pilots in commercial aviation in Australia in the 1930s. While by 1929 twenty-eight women in Australia had A licenses, the first woman commercial pilot, Phyllis Arnott, was not licensed until 1931. Nancy Bird Walton is probably the most famous pioneering female pilot, taking her first flying lesson in 1933 when she was seventeen, gaining her commercial pilot’s license in 1935, and going on to form the Australian Women Pilots’ Association in 1950. While not the first woman to gain a commercial pilot’s license, Bird Walton was the first to use her own plane for commercial purposes.91 She worked for a short time for the Far West Children’s Health Scheme, contracted to fly the nurse from clinic to clinic in remote parts of western New South Wales. She carried out similar work in western Queensland, operating her charter service from Cunnamulla. During the war, Bird
The entry of women pilots into Australia’s domestic airline companies has been a relatively recent development. According to Mann, ‘in the sixties and seventies a few women took on the challenge of becoming airline pilots. The idea of having women working in this profession was previously unheard of’.93 Deborah Lawrie was employed by Ansett in 1980, making her the first female domestic airline pilot, although she had a battle gaining the position.94 In 1985, Qantas employed its first woman pilot, appointing two more in the following year.
Sheila Mann, The Girls Were Up There Too: Australian Women in Aviation, Department of Aviation, AGPS, Canberra, 1986.
Mann, 1986, 13.
Mann, 1986, 29.
Donna Wishart, ‘Girls in high office’, Australian Flying, May/June 1990, 70–76.
cent female.97 Seventy-five per cent of teachers in charge of schools were male, while 70 per cent of assistant teachers were female.
TEACHING AND NURSING While women gradually moved into ‘male’ professions, other fields emerged as archetypally ‘feminine’. From the late nineteenth century, two occupations in particular have been defined as essentially female: nursing and early childhood education. In this respect, places such as nurses’ homes and preschools or kindergartens have been sites almost exclusively associated with women’s labour.
Not all women engaged in teaching worked in state education systems. Many women supported themselves providing private tuition, and others were employed in private schools. Private schools for middle and upper class girls were often owned and operated by women, and employed female teachers. Other women worked as governesses in country areas. According to Kingston, ‘the governess remains one of the most elusive figures in the whole of Australian history’. She has been popularly represented in colonial novels, often embodying the plight of single, working or lower middle class girls with aspirations.
Teaching (and/or governessing) was a form of employment available to single (mainly middle-class) women from the midnineteenth century onwards as state systems of education developed.95 It was considered a more desirable form of work than domestic service. Educated single women frequently chose teaching or governessing in preference to other sorts of work available to women. By 1901, the number of female teachers in Queensland schools outnumbered male teachers.96 In other states, men and women were employed as teachers in almost equal numbers, although women were consistently paid less than men and occupied less senior positions. In 1902 in New South Wales, 55.3 per cent of teachers were male and 44.7 per
Kindergarten teaching was especially femaledominated. The history of the development of kindergartens across Australia, and the concomitant emergence of infants teaching training colleges, is an important chapter in the history of women’s employment and professionalism. Kindergarten, or early infants, teaching was largely overlooked by colonial education departments in the late nineteenth
Teachers and pupils outside Alberton School, South Australia, 1890 (photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia) 95
Anderson, 1994, p.241.
K. Spearritt, 1991, p.143
Kingston, 1975, p.77
century. In response to growing concerns about children growing up in inner city slum areas, in Sydney initially, efforts were made to develop free kindergartens. This was the genesis for the Kindergarten Union, first established in 1895 in Sydney. A key activist in the movement was Maybanke Anderson. Before working to establish the Kindergarten Union, Maybanke Anderson operated her own private kindergarten known as the Maybanke School. Other kindergartens operating in Sydney in the same period were at the College for Girls (later Redlands) and the Wesleyan Ladies College.98 Soon after the Kindergarten Union was formed in Sydney in 1895, a free kindergarten was established at the Sussex Street Mission Hall. It was soon followed by another at 23 Charles Street Woolloomooloo.99 Other sites of Kindergarten Union Free Kindergartens in Sydney were Bligh Street, Newtown and Bay Street, Glebe. According to Ruth Harrison, ‘the Free Kindergartens developed by the Kindergarten Union were established to provide educational opportunities for those children denied access to the early education programs in the state and private sectors’.100
Maybanke Kindergarten, Pyrmont, NSW, 1995. The kindergarten was established at the end of the nineteenth century established by Maybanke Anderson (AHC Collection)
response to the failure of state government to provide adequate education facilities to infants, and the growing need among innercity poor families.101 The formation of the Western Australian Kindergarten Union was the result of combined efforts from organisations such as the Children’s Protection Society (CPS), Women’s Service Guilds (WSG) and the National Council of Women (NCW). Bessie Rischbieth was a key player.102
The Kindergarten Union was a driving force in providing training for women teachers, and for employing women in their centres. In 1904, the Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College began training kindergarten teachers. As student numbers grew, it occupied a series of premises including 40–42 Roslyn Gardens, Darlinghurst (1904–1911) and 278 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst (1912–1924). In 1924, it moved to new premises at Henrietta Street, Waverley.
In September 1911, 58 people attended a meeting at St Andrews Hall, Perth where a general committee was formed. The first general meeting was held at the Builders’ Exchange two weeks later. By May 1912, the first free kindergarten organised by the Western Australian Kindergarten Union was established at 160 Pier Street, East Perth. As had been the case in Sydney, the Kindergarten Union soon began providing its own teacher training. The training was initially provided at the Pier Street Kindergarten, and
These developments can be traced in other states. In Western Australia, a Kindergarten Union was established in 1911. As had been the case in Sydney, its emergence was in
Harrison, R. The Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College 1897–1981, Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College Graduation Association, 1985, p.10.
Kerr, R. A History of the Kindergarten Union of Western Australia, 1911–1973, Meerilinga Young Children’s Foundation, Perth, 1994.
Kerr, 1994, p. 19.
building of the Anzac legend, the only women who were thought to merit so much as a glance were the nurses’.107
later moved to Meerilinga. Other Perth-based free kindergartens included one at 41 Marquis Street, and one in Robertson Street, East Perth known as the Little Citizens’ Kindergarten.103 Similar stories were enacted in the other states.104
In terms of public memorialisation, the contribution of women’s labour to national wars, especially as nurses, is probably the most celebrated (see for example, the Australian Service Nurses National Memorial in Canberra). This memorialisation fits in with a general national tendency to commemorate war, masking the broader heritage of women’s predominance within the nursing profession over a long period of time. The fact that women, rather than men, were considered appropriate nurses is related to an association between constructions of femininity and caring and nurturing roles. Caring for the sick was believed to be a natural extension of women’s roles.
Nursing, the ‘womanly’ occupation par excellence, attracted large numbers of girls from the middle and lower classes by the late 1880s.105 The history of nursing in Australia is a history of its progressive professionalisation, transformed from a relatively unskilled and undesirable occupation on par with domestic service, to an occupation of respectability that embodied Victorian notions of ladylikeness. A key component of the professionalisation of nursing was the provision of training based on the Florence Nightingale school. In the 1860s, nurses from Britain arrived in Australia to train women in the Nightingale tradition.
COMMERCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Living-in was a central component in the training and professional practice of nursing, making nurses’ homes significant sites associated with the history of women’s labour. According to Kingston, ‘in nursing it was argued that the twenty-four hours a day nature of the work, or the shift work, made it much easier and more convenient if quarters were provided. But it was also argued that young ladies could not go about the streets alone and unchaperoned at all hours of the day and night’.106 A significant example of a nurses home is the Lady Lamington Home attached to the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
In the first decades of the twentieth century, women — especially young women — moved into offices and shops in huge numbers, transforming these jobs into predominantly female occupations.108 Women participated in increasing numbers as typists within city offices. Clerical work in all western industrial countries has expanded and became the province of women since the nineteenth century. In Australia, the proportion of clerical workers who were women rose from one per cent to 70 per cent between 1881 and 1981.109 According to Game and Pringle in the 1980s, ‘secretaries, together with typists, stenographers, personal assistants and word processor operators comprise by far the largest female occupational grouping in Australia’.110
In national histories, nurses are revered for their role during wars, especially during the First World War. According to Kingston, ‘in the
See for example: Dowd, C. The Adelaide Kindergarten Teachers College: A History 1907–1974, SACAE, Adelaide, 1983.
Lake & Farley (eds), op. cit., p. 106
ibid., p. 88.
ibid., p. 88
Frances, op. cit., p. 246.
Melanie Nolan, ‘Making clerks and reshaping the white collar workforce in the twentieth century, 1900–1939’, Labour History, no. 63, Nov. 1992, p. 65 109
110 Ann Game and Rosemary Pringle, ‘Beyond Gender at Work: Secretaries’, Australian Women: New Feminist Perspectives, Norma Grieve & Ailsa Burns (eds), Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1986, p. 273.
Public Service was enshrined in statutes and administrative rules.114 For example, a bar against married women’s full time permanent employment in the public service was vigorously maintained until the 1960s. Initially, women were not permitted to take the entrance exam for the Clerical Division in the Commonwealth Service. They were overwhelmingly employed as typists and telephonists. While most public service areas were dominated by men, according to Clarke and White, women’s groups lobbied for women to be employed in areas ‘where the clients were female’115. Among other areas, the infant health movement in the early part of the twentieth century ‘provided opportunities for women doctors to move into senior positions in the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health. Dr Vera Scantlebury-Brown was the first director of Maternal and Infant Welfare in Victoria’.116
Students learning to type at the Sydney Technical College, School of Commerce, NSW, 1965 (Government Printing Office Collection, State Library of New South Wales)
The postal service was a relatively large employer of women, especially in country areas. By the 1880s, women staffed post offices and telegraph offices throughout Australia, and were later employed in telephone exchanges.111 According to Claire McCuskey’s study of women in the Victorian Post Office, ‘the department began employing women as postmistresses and telegraph operators in 1870 because they were prepared to work for less pay than postmasters and male telegraph operators’.112 McCuskey notes that the work was considered suitable for middle class women, without the support of a husband. For example, in The Getting of Wisdom, Henry Handel Richardson described her mother’s work as a country postmistress after the death of her husband.113
In the 1920s, when Canberra was established as the national capital, relatively large numbers of female public servants were transferred from Melbourne to the new city. To accommodate them, a number of hostels were built including Beauchamp House, Gorman House and Hotel Ainslie. Most of the women employed by the Federal Capital Commission were junior public servants, and would have been young and unmarried. A 1928 electoral roll for Beauchamp House lists various occupations for women, including typist, clerk, stenographer, machinists, waitress and pantry maid. Gorman House was built to provide living accommodation for junior administrative staff on moderate salaries, and was less extravagant than two other hostels built for politicians and senior administrative staff. Gorman House sought to create a
Women have been employed within the public service, at both the federal and state level throughout the twentieth century, but in restricted ways. Until relatively recently, discrimination against women within the
Teale, op. cit., p. 210.
Claire McCuskey, ‘Women in the Victorian Post Office’, Worth her Salt: Women at Work in Australia, Margaret Bevege, Margaret James & Carmel Shute (eds), Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1982, p. 49.
Grimshaw et al, op. cit., p. 128.
Jocelyn Clarke & Kate White, Women in Australian Politics, Fontana/Collins, Melbourne, 1983, p. 137.
Ibid, p. 138.
WOMEN AND INDUSTRY While upper-lower and middle-class women were moving into nursing, teaching and other professional areas, working-class women were taking up employment in factories, shops and the service industries in unprecedented numbers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Although there are no exact figures, according to Kingston, ‘the earliest employment of women in industry began in Victoria, so that by 1871 there were 2 630 women employed in Victoria in one form or other of industry. The figure had risen to 7 755 in 1885 and to 10 786 in 1891’.118 In New South Wales approximately 7 000 women were recorded as working in factories in 1891.119 These numbers continued to grow over the next couple of decades, with the proportion of women working in industry relative to men rising from one in five in Victoria in 1886 to one in two in 1907.120 According to Kingston, the participation of women in industry reached a pinnacle in 1911, before gradually declining. The proportion of women engaged in industrial employment began to rise again in the post Second World War period. Some industries were dominated by women, such as the textile and clothing industry and the ‘manufacture of food and drink’121. For example, biscuit factories had a high proportion of female staff.
Trainees at the Technical College Canberra, ACT, 1940 (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
comfortable and controlled domestic environment. It became known colloquially as the ‘Hen Coop’. In 1942 the Hotel Ainslie was acquired by the Department of the Interior as accommodation for female public servants transferred from elsewhere to replace enlisted men during the Second World War. According to Clarke and White, ‘the Second World War was a turning point for women’s employment in the Public Service’.117 During and after the war, restrictions on women’s access to clerical and administrative offices were lifted. Women increasingly occupied more diverse and senior roles. Clarke and White refer to Kathleen Best, who headed the Women’s Re-establishment Division of the Department of Postwar Reconstruction. Marie Coleman, who was the Chairwoman of the Social Welfare Commission from 1973 until 1976, was the first woman to occupy a position in the First Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. Pat O’Shane was the first woman to become a departmental head in a state public service when she became the Director of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in New South Wales in 1981. 117
After the 1860s, manufacturing increasingly attracted women away from domestic service.122 According to Kingston, ‘for the great many working class girls the factory provided a temporary escape from domestic chores to a state of economic semi-independence’.123 Ray Markey argues that with the expansion of capitalism in Australia in the late nineteenth century, ‘women were the industrial cannon
Kingston, op. cit., p. 60
ibid, p. 62.
Saunders & Evans, op. cit., p. 231.
Kingston, op. cit., p. 74.
fodder for manufacturing growth’.124 Women’s move into manufacturing was evidence more of the expansion of capitalism than new employment opportunities. Women began to participate ‘publicly’ in work that they had been carrying out informally at home. In many cases, the mechanisation process was accompanied by an apparent feminisation of the work force. Yet women’s involvement in these trades in Australia had a very long history, certainly pre-dating the factories. According to Anderson, ‘factories opened in areas traditionally employing women — in textile and clothing production, boots and shoes, and in food processing’.125 This trend continued so that by the 1920s about two-thirds of factory workers in Victoria were female.126 These numbers increased again during the Second World War when many women assumed work previously carried out by men, or entered jobs created by the war.
Workers machining hat braids at the ‘Top Dog’ hat factory, Sydney, NSW, 1941 (Hood Collection, State Library of New South Wales)
Many women already working in factories were mobilised by the government to work in munitions factories. One such factory was the Commonwealth No. 5 Explosives Factory (Albion) Deer Park in Victoria. The entry of women into areas of work that had long been defined as ‘male’ raised questions about pay rates. The Women’s Employment Board (WEB) was established in 1942 with the aim to set rates for ‘pay for women not covered by awards because they were replacing male workers, doing ‘men’s work’, while the men were at war or were performing work created by war’.127 According to Scutt, the ‘WEB generally set rates of women’s pay at between 80 and 100 per cent of the male basic wage’.128 In the postwar period, both migrant women and Aboriginal women participated in manufacturing work, in urban areas and regional centres. According to Frances, ‘the process [of women entering manufacturing] continued with the growth of secondary industry in the wake of the Second World War, drawing in huge numbers of migrant women to factory work’.129 Similarly, Peter Spearritt argues that ‘the most important development since about 1950 has been the influx of Greek and Italian migrant women into the
Workers in a munitions factory during World War II (courtesy of La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria)
Markey, op. cit., p. 89.
Anderson, op. cit., p. 236.
Lake & Kelly, op. cit., p. 257.
Jocelyn Scutt, ‘Inequality before the law: Gender, arbitration and wages’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, 271.
Frances, op. cit., p. 246.
factories’.130 Some factories, particularly in regional areas, are almost predominantly associated with migrant labour.131 Other important sites associated with migrant labour include the migrant reception centres in rural and urban Australia, such as Bonegilla.
Beverley Kingston records the establishment of ‘low-priced hostel accommodation late in the nineteenth and early in the twentieth century’ in Sydney. She quotes from Miss Roberts, lecturer in charge of women’s handicrafts at the Technical College in Sydney, explaining the need for a new hostel in 1919:
Aboriginal women’s participation in the manufacturing industry, especially in urban centres, has not been well documented. As with Aboriginal women’s experiences as ‘domestics’, the best source of evidence comes from biographies and autobiographies. Ruby Langford’s autobiography, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, provides details of her experiences working in factories in the postwar period in inner city Sydney.132
I have repeatedly been asked why there is no suggestion of organising a hostel for working men. The cases are not parallel. The wages paid to a man enable him to pay for his washing, board and certain other things. But it has been declared that women shall not be paid equal rates with men, therefore it is really incumbent upon the community to ensure them some measure of comfort in their home life and to provide them with some place of residence that will be in keeping with the wages they are earning.134
SUPPORTING WOMEN WORKERS The movement of women into paid work in the public arena has been supported by the development of professional and auxiliary organisations, often organised by women for women. Organisations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) were concerned with ‘reaching’ the large numbers of women and girls working in factories. Among other things, these organisations were involved in providing accommodation to working girls, particularly those moving from country areas to the city. According to Seamus O’Hanlon, the YWCA, the Church of England Girls’ Friendly Society and the Salvation Army ‘provided shelter to women in Melbourne from the late nineteenth century, but all opened new, larger hostels for “business girls” in the teens and early 1920s’.133
Similarly, with the entry of women, including married women with children, into paid work particularly during the war, childcare became a crucial issue.135 Saunders and Bolton cite a Department of Labour and National Service survey of civil and munitions factories that ‘concluded that the difficulty of coping with various domestic and employment demands was responsible for almost one-third of female absenteeism’.136 The Kindergarten Union was established in Melbourne in 1942 and was, according to Darian-Smith, in part a response to the childcaring needs of ‘middle-class women who no longer had domestic servants to conduct child supervision’.137 Prior to the war, child care services were primarily perceived as a type of charity for women forced to work because of the absence of a male breadwinner.
130 Peter Spearritt, ‘Women in Sydney factories c. 1920–50’, Women at Work, Ann Curthoys, Susan Eade & Peter Spearritt (eds), Australian Centre for the Study of Labour History, Canberra, 1975, p. 43. 131
See Kate Rea’s recent research into migrant heritage in NSW for the NSW Heritage Office.
Ruby Langford, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, Penguin, Ringwood, 1988. See also: La Perouse: The Place, the People and the Sea, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1988.
Seamus O’Hanlon, ‘For the upholding of womanhood: Melbourne’s interwar hostels for “business girls”, Victorian Historical Journal, vol. 70, no. 2, Nov. 1999, p. 116.
Cited in Kingston, op. cit., p. 121.
See Kay Saunders & Geoffrey Bolton, ‘Girdled for War: Women’s Mobilisations in World War Two’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, p. 388.
Cited in Saunders & Bolton, op. cit., p. 388.
One important example of a child care centre established by women for working women is the former South Adelaide Creche.138 The Second World War put pressure on existing child care facilities, forcing some organisations, such as the Victorian Association of Creches, to turn to the government for additional support.139 Similarly, ‘the Council for Women in War Work lobbied the Federal Government for funds to extend facilities in day-care nurseries for the children of war workers’.140 Many of these initiatives set the course for later developments in providing support to women workers, and removing the barriers to women’s (especially married women’s) access to paid work in the public sphere. While additional services were increasingly provided to the female workforce, women’s role as the primary care givers remained constant. With the entry of women into male dominated professions, women’s professional organisations gradually emerged. These organisations were aimed at supporting professional women, and often had their own meeting rooms. The Lyceum Club, founded in 1912, was open to women who had a university education. For 32 years, the Club had rooms in the ANZ Gothic Bank in Melbourne. While some were concerned almost exclusively with their own professions, other women’s organisations were more outward looking and were engaged in campaigns to improve women’s access to, and conditions of, employment generally.
Maybanke Anderson produced The Women’s Voice in offices within Societe Generale House, Sydney, NSW (AHC Collection)
In a similar mode, women’s organisations often lobbied around work issues for women, and supported women engaged in waged labour. An example is organisations that emerged around the women’s suffrage movement such as the Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW. Maybanke Anderson, who was a prominent member of the League, had a room in the Societe Generale Building in Sydney where she produced the journal, ‘The Women’s Voice’ (see Chapter Three for further discussion).
The Creche was recently demolished amidst considerable community protest.
Saunders & Bolton, op. cit., p. 388.
CONCLUSION The movement of women into the public work sphere was an important process in the history of women’s employment and professionalism. The scope for recording and reflecting this development through placebased heritage is broad. Not only are sites of women’s labour, such as post offices, schools and factories, reflective and/or representative of women’s work but a range of other place types including girls’ hostels, women’s groups meeting rooms, childcare centres and nurses’ homes are equally so. Some sites, such as girls’ schools, are particularly evocative of the theme of women’s participation in paid work in the public sphere in that they were both places of employment for women and places that prepared young women for future education and training, facilitating their subsequent move into various professions. Some professions engaged in by women are well represented (although not well protected and recognised) in the built environment, particularly the work of women architects and landscape designers. However, the contribution to the national economy or to the making of the nation made by women engaged in other professions and industries, while less readily identifiable through place, is equally significant and worthy of commemoration. The approach suggested above focuses on industries and professions not traditionally associated with women, highlighting the achievements of women who paved the way for others to follow.
CHAPTER 3 S T R U G G L E F O R AC C E S S A N D E Q UA L I T Y
The history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia has been characterised by an ongoing, although often fragmented, struggle to gain access to paid employment on the same footing as men and to ensure women’s equal rights within the workforce. In the historiography of women’s labour, a major focus of inquiry has been on women’s participation within unions. While in some industries, unions have played a critical role in advocating on behalf of women, more often than not male-dominated trade unions interested in protecting ‘men’s’ jobs have constituted a significant barrier to women’s access to paid employment and decent wages. At the same time, the apparent low participation of women in unions, in part the result of the fragmented and isolated ways in which women have been forced to participate in the workforce, has been identified as making it difficult to identify and account for women’s activism around work issues. Yet, failure to organise industrially does not mean that women did not challenge the conditions they were forced to work under. Some scholars have argued that many women, rather than fight against employers in an organised way, simply walked out and found work elsewhere. In a detailed study of female workers’ responses to work conditions in the Guest Biscuit Factory in Melbourne in the late nineteenth century, Melanie Raymond noted the high rate of turnover in female staff. She suggested that this could be viewed ‘as a comment on the pay and conditions within the factory, where they simply voted with their feet and left’.141 Raymond’s observation reveals Cartoon, 1918 (by permission of the John Oxley Library)
Melanie Raymond, ‘Responses of female industrial workers: A case study of the Guest Biscuit Factory, 1888–1899’, Labour History, no. 61, 1991.
the ways in which an emphasis on readily recognisable (and ‘masculinist’) forms of public protest, such as organised strikes, can obscure the types of resistance used by female workers. While the organisation of female workers into unions is a critical component in the history of improving women’s access to paid employment, it is only one aspect.
to investigate sweated labour in the clothing industry, and the introduction of Victoria’s first Factory Act’.143 Another early attempt to organise women workers occurred in New South Wales in the late nineteenth century. The Female Employees’ Union of NSW, which was established in about 1891,144 sought to protect the interests of all women workers, not just domestic servants. The Domestic Workers Union in Victoria was established at about the same time, and according to Daniels met in the Female Operatives’ Hall next to the Trades Hall. The New South Wales Domestic Workers Union was established in 1909.145
In tracing a history of women’s activism around work-related issues, the stories of women’s groups and women’s rights campaigns are significant. The suffrage movement in the late nineteenth century is one example. While ostensibly concerned with securing the vote for women in Australia, the suffrage movement was inseparable from demands to improve the place of women in colonial society, including their rights to work outside the home. Many individual women have played important roles in both publicising the experiences of female workers, and campaigning for better pay and conditions. The achievements of these organisations and women should be acknowledged and commemorated in the nation’s heritage places. Various places and place types reflect the long history of activism aimed at achieving equality for women in the paid workforce. This includes meeting rooms associated with various organisations, sites of protest, and memorials to female campaigners.
According to Hargreaves, ‘most of these unions were short-lived and attempts to form them ceased after about 1911’.146 However, the ‘growth of the manufacturing industry’, saw the rise of trade unionism amongst women’147.
SUFFRAGE AND THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN WORKERS In the late nineteenth century, struggles over women’s access to paid employment were integrally associated with the campaign to win women the vote. In her history of the campaign for women to get the vote in Australia, Kirsten Lees begins by describing the role of women’s labour in establishing the Australian colonies, in so doing positioning women’s labour as a critical component in the story of women’s struggle for franchise.148
In many ways, the suffrage movement is implicitly about women’s labour. On the one hand, it was argued that the granting of the vote was recognition of the value of women’s labour to colonial society. On the other hand, the demand for the vote was reflective of the gradually changing role of women in public
One of the most well known unions was the Tailoresses Union, formed around 1874 in Victoria after ‘the first known strike of women workers in Australia’.142 Hargreaves states that ‘although short-lived, the union achieved higher pay and improved conditions and was partly responsible for an inquiry being set up
Hargreaves, op. cit., p. 16
ibid., p. 15.
Kingston, op. cit., p. 80.
Hargreaves, op. cit., p. 15.
Hargreaves, op cit, p. 16.
Kirsten Lees, Votes for Women: The Australian Story, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1995, p. 14.
relevant to women, and advertised businesses owned and operated by women. Meetings for the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales were often held at Lawson’s offices in Jamison Street in Sydney.
life. This changing role included increased access to and participation in paid work outside the home. Many women involved in the suffrage movement had been, and continued to be, involved in supporting women workers. For example, Mary Lee, who was active in the women’s Suffrage League in South Australia in the 1880s and 1890s, was involved in the formation of the Working Women’s Trade Union.149 According to Lees, ‘she became union secretary, which meant visits to factories and workshops to talk to the employers and interview the women employees. What she saw of the conditions women were working in and the pittance they were paid fuelled her commitment to the suffrage campaign’.150 Catherine Helen Spence was an equally active proponent of votes for women and for women’s rights to participate in public society.
Another journal associated with the League was the Women’s Voice, edited by Maybanke Anderson and, following the example of Louisa Lawson, typeset by women. The journal often carried articles about women’s work and their rights to equal participation within the public sphere.
WOMEN’S ORGANISATIONS SUPPORTING WOMEN WORKERS The early part of the twentieth century witnessed a growth in women’s organisations lobbying for improved status of women generally, and specifically for work related issues, including equal pay.152 As Clarke and White showed, many women’s organisations involved in action around work-related issues remained independent of political parties. These included the Women’s Service Guilds (WSG), the Feminist Club of Sydney, and later the United Associations of Women and the Australian Federation of Women Voters. The Women’s Service Guild, established in Perth in 1909 by women who had been earlier involved in the suffrage movement, was involved in educating women about social, political and economic questions. One early member was Dr Roberta Jull, the first woman physician in Western Australia.
In New South Wales the situation was similar. The Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales, primarily committed to gaining the vote for women was equally concerned with related matters including divorce, child support and equal pay. Early members included Maybanke Anderson, Rose Scott and Dora Montefiore. Women’s rights as workers were vital issues for these women, all of whom, for different reasons, worked to support themselves.151 The first meeting of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales was held in the Economic Rooms in Pitt Street, Sydney. The public launching of the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales was held at the YWCA on 4 June 1891.
The Feminist Club of New South Wales was formed in 1914 to ‘work for equality of status, opportunity and payment between men and women’. It joined with other women’s groups in 1929 to form the United Associations of Women.153 Jessie Street was its first president. Street was active in women’s causes throughout the twentieth century. Among many other causes, she was active in lobbying
Louisa Lawson was an early member of the League and advocated strongly for the rights of women workers through her journal, Dawn. Lawson ran her own publishing business, supporting herself and employing other women. Her journal covered many issues
ibid., p. 49.
152 See Joy Damousi, ‘Marching to different drums: Women’s mobilisations, 1914–1939’, Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Kay Saunders & Raymond Evans (eds), Harcourt Brace, Sydney, 1994, p. 365.
Many other women played significant roles in improving women’s access to, and rights within, the workplace. Muriel Heagney was particularly active around the issue of equal pay. In Australia, the concept of the male breadwinner was the biggest barrier to women gaining the same pay rate as men. The Harvester Judgment in 1907 had enshrined the principle of a ‘family wage’ in which the male’s wage was set at a rate that would provide for the ‘needs of a man and his family’.156 The female rate for work was discussed during the 1912 Fruit Pickers case when Judge Higgins stated that ‘the rate of pay for any given job should take into account whether it was primarily a ‘men’s job’ or a ‘women’s job’, so that men could be protected against unfair competition from lower-paid women’.157
politicians on married women’s right to work and about the ‘erosion of female wages’.154 She ‘helped nurses in their struggle for better conditions and teachers in their opposition to the dismissal of married women’.155 Jessie Street had an office in the city, firstly at Challis House, Martin Place and from 1937 at 61 Market Street, Sydney. The Australian Federation of Women Voters (AFWV) was formed in 1921 by Bessie Rischbieth, bringing together various statebased organisations into a federal body The various non-partisan women’s groups around Australia that belonged to the Federation of Women Voters were engaged in various campaigns around equal pay for women, and the rights and conditions of working women. Another significant organisation campaigning both for child endowment and better working conditions for women was the Labor Women’s Central Organising Committee in New South Wales (WCOC).
In 1919, the rate of pay set for women’s labour was 54 per cent of that set as the rate for men. According to Edna Ryan, ‘denying women’s contribution to the family income became entrenched as a tradition, a myth distorting the true role and history of women in Australia’.158
Attendees at the Australian Federation of Women Voters conference, Adelaide, 1933 (photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia)
Clarke and White, 1983, p. 19.
Heather Radi (ed.), Jessie Street: Documents and Essays, Women’s Redress Press, Sydney, 1990, p. 11.
See Ryan & Conlon, op. cit. See also Hargreaves, op. cit., p. 16.
Hargreave, op. cit., p. 16.
Edna Ryan, ‘Women in production in Australia’, Australian Women: New Feminist Perspectives, Norma Grieve & Ailsa Burns (eds), Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1986, p. 266.
advantages flowed from the Women’s Employment Board in spite of its conservative outlook. First, women’s wages sustained an upward trend and, secondly, there were enormous improvements in working conditions’.164
CAMPAIGN FOR EQUAL PAY Ryan and Conlon note that the ‘1930s saw the first consistent and widespread organisation of an equal pay lobby’.159 Muriel Heagney played a central role in this campaign, working from within the trade union movement and through the Australian Labor Party. In 1935, Heagney founded the Equal Status Committee in Victoria ‘to plead for the right of women to earn a living and for equal pay’.160 In that year she wrote an influential tract Are Women Taking Men’s Jobs? Two years later she was involved in establishing the Council of Action for Equal Pay. The Council’s aim was ‘the advocacy of the rate for the job irrespective of the sex of the workers, the elimination of the sex differentials in legal industrial standards, the achievement of equal status and equality of opportunity for workers of either sex’.161 In pursuit of its aims, the Council organised conferences, lobbied parliamentarians, and gave its support to unions committed to equal pay. According to Hargreaves ‘some unions with predominantly female membership had consistently made claims for equal pay, for example, the Clothing Trades’ Union made a claim in 1926, and the Clerks’ Union sponsored a conference of the Council of Action for Equal Pay in 1937’.162
The campaign for equal pay continued throughout the postwar period, often through the trade union movement and through the arbitration courts. Yet, the concept of the male breadwinner was difficult to shift. It had long constituted a fundamental principle in Australian industrial relations, and was not easily dismantled. In the postwar period white collar occupations, especially teachers, were most active in challenging the male breadwinner principle. The Teachers’ Federation of New South Wales demanded equal pay for equal work. As a result of the Teachers’ Federation campaign, the New South Wales Industrial Arbitration Act was amended with the addition of Section 88D, ‘Equal Pay under Certain Circumstances’. The amendment was not a victory for all women workers. The amendment required that a woman ‘seeking equal pay had to relate her wage value to that of a man in the same occupation’.165 For women engaged in clerical work, employers often argued that they ‘were doing different work from men or that they did not perform all the tasks done by men’.166 While the amendment had been introduced in New South Wales in 1959, it was another eight years before other states followed. At the federal level, the campaign for legislative change to enshrine the principle of equal pay took place in the late 1960s. A number of women’s organisations were active in this campaign, including the
Despite the flurry of activity within the union movement in the 1930s around the issue of equal pay, the struggle was to continue for decades to follow. During the Second World War the matter continued to be pursued with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) holding three national conferences to discuss equal pay.163 As a result of a fourth conference, the ACTU lobbied the federal government for the establishment of the Women’s Employment Board. According to Ryan’s and Conlon’s assessment, ‘two 159
Ryan & Conlon, op. cit., p. 121.
ibid. ,p. 122.
Hargreaves, op. cit.
ibid., p. 124.
ibid., p. 138.
ibid., p. 147.
ibid., p. 147.
Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Australian National Council of Women, Australian Federation of Women Voters and the Union of Australian Women. This campaign resulted in the Arbitration Commission’s 1969 equal pay decision. But rather than constitute universal equal pay for women, the reality was that few women benefited from the decision.
CONCLUSION The drawn out campaign to secure equal pay for women workers is reflective of the nature of women’s participation in the world of work, and the relationship between the private and public spheres of production. While women have consistently engaged in paid employment in a range of occupations and industries in Australia from the late eighteenth century until the present, their contribution to the national economy and to the making of the nation has been obscured and obstructed by the ways in which ‘work’ has traditionally been defined as primarily the preserve of men. Making the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism visible entails not simply identifying the places where women have worked but also exposing the ways in which they have been denied access for work. This includes mapping the struggles to have barriers to equal participation in the workforce removed.
Other important wage cases heard in the early 1970s were milestones in the campaign for equal pay for women, including the ACTU claim for equal pay in the 1972 National Wage Case.167 Mary Gaudron argued the case for the government of equal pay for work of equal value. As a result of this case, ‘women were awarded a male rate of pay no matter what work they were doing’.168
ibid., p. 159.
ibid., p. 162.
CONCLUSION & R E C O M M E N DAT I O N S F O R F U R T H E R R E S E A RC H
As this report has illustrated, the history of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia is broad, complex and diverse. The experiences of women engaged in waged labour have significantly differed across time, place, class and culture. Yet, despite considerable diversity, it is possible to trace some key themes, of national significance, in the history of women’s labour. In this report, the three key themes identified were: •
women’s labour within the domestic sphere
women’s entry into the public work sphere
women’s struggle for access and equity within the paid workforce.
Given the scope of this report, each of these themes has been explored in very general ways, with an emphasis on how key people, events, organisations and processes might be reflected through place. Given the brevity with which some important aspects of the history of women’s employment and professionalism were dealt, the first recommendation to be made is:
• women’s cultural work, such as writing, visual arts and drama;
I. That more detailed research be conducted into specific aspects of the history presented. This could include detailed histories of occupations, sites, periods, organisations, political movements, and/or geographical regions identified.
While place does not feature explicitly in existing histories of women’s employment and professionalism, the report has identified and discussed a wide range of places and place types that are reflective and representative of that history. These places are not confined to work places but also include places where women workers lived, the offices of women’s organisations involved in supporting women workers, educational institutions and buildings designed by women. A second recommendation is that:
• non-traditional employment for women, including technical training; • women’s participation in political life and parliamentary offices. It is recommended that further research be conducted into all these areas.
Some specific areas and gaps include the history of: • Aboriginal women’s employment and professionalism; • migrant women’s employment and professionalism;
III. To develop a program, perhaps focusing initially on one state heritage register, that aims to re-interpret sites through the framework provided in this report. This project would function as a proto-type for future interpretative work.
II. A list representative of the various place types referred to in the report be developed, and that this list form the basis for future research into conservation and interpretation needs. The idea here is to preserve a collection of place-types that, while geographically dispersed, together tell a story of women’s employment and professionalism in Australia.
Mirroring concerns expressed by feminist historians in accounting for the value of women’s work, the danger for heritage practitioners in interpreting ‘women’s places’ will be the trap of ‘assimilating’ female workers (or women’s work) into categories more reflective of the experience of male workers. The approach taken in this report has identified key themes in the history of women’s employment and professionalism that are considered critical to the interpretation (or reinterpretation) of places associated with women’s work. This has included equal attention being given to women engaged in work traditionally defined as ‘male’ as well as the home as a locus of employment and the long struggle for women to gain access to, and equity within, the realm of paid employment. To address the potential risk of only commemorating women’s contribution to the national economy in ways that conform to traditional definitions of work (or labour), it is recommended that:
At the same time, it will be necessary to identify more places illustrative of the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism. The existing registers reveal a paucity of sites associated specifically with women’s labour history. Further, the identification of new sites is needed to address a general tendency to ignore the contribution of women’s labour to the national economy in the national estate, and/or to accept uncritically the supposed absence of women from public life, including paid employment. To address this, it is recommended that: • a program be implemented to identify new places that represent the history of women’s employment and professionalism using, where appropriate, the framework offered in this report. While women’s labour has been largely historiographically invisible (at least until the 1980s), and while it has not been as ‘public’ as work performed by men, it is nevertheless ubiquitous within the built environment. In some ways, the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism can be found almost anywhere one chooses to look. In this sense, the main issue in mapping the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism is not necessarily the identification of places but rather the interpretation of places. By and large, the interpretation of the many existing relevant places on various heritage registers through the perspective of the history of women’s labour remains to be done. In this respect, a third recommendation is:
• any future research projects into the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism consider both ‘private’ and ‘public’ sites of women’s labour as well as the heritage of campaigns around work related issues affecting women; • that a national project identifying and recording the heritage of women’s struggle for access and equality in paid employment and other aspects of public life be developed. As a next stage in this project, it is recommended that some site-specific studies be conducted. These studies will provide an opportunity to interpret places associated with the history of women’s employment and professionalism drawing on the broad themes
outlined in this report. For example, a detailed site survey of a hospital would allow the exploration of key themes such as: • the relationship between nursing and women’s roles as ‘carers’; • the professional development of nursing as well as the entry of women into medicine and medical science; • the history of professional organisations that supported women in nursing and medicine; • campaigns to improve working conditions for nurses. The selection of sites for detailed investigation should be representative of regional, occupational and historical differences. IV. Finally it is recommended that unequivocal national heritage sites be revisited to explore the heritage of women’s employment and professionalism. One suggestion is to take Old Parliament House as a site through which to explore, for example: • women’s role in supporting men’s nation building work. This could include the work of parliamentary wives, and the behind the scenes female labour involved in running Parliament House; • women’s role in public employment, within Parliament House and in the other sections of government that supported it; and • women’s exclusion from certain forms of public life, especially Australia’s political arena. This could trace the history of women’s absence in the national seat of power, and a history of women’s activism to ensure better political representation.
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APPENDIX I T H E M AT I C F R A M E WO R K
Linked to: Australian Historic Themes Framework: some relevant sub themes
1. Supplying female labour to the colonies
1.1 Convictism and the female factories 1.2 Free immigration schemes for women
3.6 Recruiting labour
2. Women on the land 2.1 Family farms 2.2 Women in pastoralism and agriculture
5.8 Working on the land
3. Domestic labour 3.1 Recruiting domestic servants 3.2 Domestic service education 3.3 Turning homes into workplaces
5.6 Working in the home
4. The expanding economy 4.1 The growth of the manufacturing sector 4.2 Women and small business 4.3 Women’s work in industry in the First and Second World Wars
3.13 Developing an Australian manufacturing capacity 3.10.2 Encouraging women into employment
5. Women and professionalism 3.10 Integrating people into the cash economy 5.1 Educating women and girls 5.2 Female dominated occupations 5.3 Women’s entry into ‘male’ professions 6.3 Training people for the workplace 5.4 Women’s participation in the public service 5.5 Women’s exclusion from political life 6. The struggle for access and equal pay 6.1 The suffrage movement and the rights of women workers 6.2 Unionism and women 6.3 The campaign for equal pay 6.4 Supporting women workers
5.2 Organising workers and workplaces 7.2 Developing institutions of self government and democracy
5.3 Caring for workers’ dependent children
APPENDIX II A L I S T O F I N D I C AT I V E P L AC E S
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY BLYTHBURN
Block 137, Paddys River
Home of Elizabeth Julia McKeahnie, poet and pastoralist. She is reputed to have developed and run the cattle station and dairy on the 810 ha property without using male labour.
IAN POTTER HOUSE
Block 1, Section 24, Acton Bounded by Gordon Street, Marcus Clarke Street & Edinburgh Avenue
Ian Potter House (AHC Collection)
Ian Potter House (known as Beauchamp House until 1985) is associated with the Federal Capital Commission’s building program for the transfer of public servants from Melbourne to Canberra in 1927. It was originally used to accommodate female public servants. These women worked for the Federal Capital Commission and were mainly junior public servants, since women were only permitted to work in the lowest level of the public service at that time. The women would have been young and unmarried. A 1928 electoral roll for Beauchamp House lists various occupations for women, including typist, clerk, stenographer, machinists, waitress and pantry maid.
Section 53, Braddon Bounded by Ainslie Avenue, Currong Street, Batman Street & Doonkuna Street
In addition to Beauchamp House, accommodation was provided for single women at the Hotel Ainslie (later known as Gorman House). Gorman House was reserved for female officers of various Commonwealth departments. The electoral roll for 1928 shows 64 females living in the Hostel. Most listed their occupations as typists and stenographers. Gorman House was built to provide living accommodation for junior administrative staff on moderate salaries, and was less extravagant than two other hostels built for politicians and senior administrative staff. Gorman House sought to create a comfortable and controlled domestic environment. It became known colloquially as the ‘Hen Coop’.
Gorman House (AHC Collection)
Block 5, Section 56, Braddon
In 1942, the Hotel Ainslie was acquired by the Department of the Interior as accommodation for female public servants transferred from elsewhere to replace enlisted men during the Second World War.
OLD PARLIAMENT HOUSE
King George Terrace, Parkes
Although Australian women’s participation in parliament has been historically unequal to men’s, Old Parliament House is representative of the women who entered federal parliament in the twentieth century. It is also associated with other professional women, including journalists and public servants.
EDMUND BARTON OFFICES
Kings Avenue, Barton
While listed for architectural reasons, the Edmund Barton Offices are also significant in histories of women’s participation in the public service, especially the concentration of women in non-professional positions such as typing and secretarial work.
Chandler St, Belconnen
Associated with a period in the 1970s and 1980s in which increasing numbers of women entered the public service.
BRAYSHAWS HOMESTEAD PRECINCT
Boboyan Rd, Tharwa
An example of a family farm that at different times depended on women’s as well as men’s labour.
CANBERRA CHURCH OF ENGLAND GIRLS’ SCHOOL Melbourne Avenue, Deakin
5.1, 5.2 Opened in 1927, the first teachers were Sister Hilda (Jane Beatrice Holt) and Sister Phyliss. Mistress in charge was Miss J. Reynolds.
NEW SOUTH WALES IMMIGRATION DEPOT (HYDE PARK BARRACKS) Macquarie Street, Sydney
1.2 Provides evidence of the conditions experienced by immigrant groups including women between 1840s and 1880s. Associated with Caroline Chisholm’s work among female immigrants.
Immigration Depot (Hyde Park Barracks) (AHC Collection)
PARRAMATTA FEMALE FACTORY
Associated with training convict women.
COOTAMUNDRA GIRLS HOME
Training school for Aboriginal girls as domestic servants.
CAROLINE CHISHOLM COTTAGES
Mill Street, Maitland
Caroline Chisholm rented 1 and 3 Smith’s Row (Mill St) and converted these dwellings into a single cottage to shelter homeless immigrants in the district.
RACHAEL FORSTER HOSPITAL
George Street, Redfern
Established in the 1920s Rachael Forster Hospital provided health services to women, and was also a site for the professional support and development of women in the medical profession.
Associated with Marion Mahoney Griffin (Architect)
University of Sydney
First university college for women in Australia. The need for accommodation for women students was a direct result of the admission of women to the University in 1882. From 1941 to 1972, Ellice Nosworthy, who graduated with the first cohort of architecture students from the University of Sydney in 1922, was the Honorary Architect.
JESSIE STREET RESERVE
Cnr Loftus St & Reiby Place, Sydney
Memorial to feminist activist, Jessie Street.
CWA REST HOUSE
Yapunyah St, Barellan
First Country Women’s Association Rest House.
SALVATION ARMY WOMEN’S HOSTEL FACADE (FORMER) 6.4 471 South Dowling Street, Surry Hills
Accommodation place for female workers in the city.
Salvation Army Women’s Hostel (J. Rowan, AHC Collection)
SOCIETE GENERALE BUILDING
348–352 George Street, Sydney
Maybanke Anderson, prominent member of the Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW, occupied Room 16 on the third floor. She used the office to produce her journal, The Woman’s Voice.
NORTH HEAD QUARANTINE STATION
North Head, Sydney
Associated with the arrival of female immigrants through the 19th and early 20th centuries and during WWII with the Australian Women’s Army Service
North Head Quarantine Station (AHC Collection)
Little Bay, Sydney
Established in the early 1880s, the Coast Hospital is associated with a long history of nursing in Sydney.
Designed by Eleanor Cullis-Hill in 1956, and was considered for the Sulman Award.
29 Bangalla Street, Warrawee
Designed by Eleanor Cullis-Hill in 1938–1939.
SYDNEY HOSPITAL — NIGHTINGALE WING
Macquarie Street, Sydney
Associated with the introduction of Florence Nightingale trained nurses to Australia
SYDNEY HOSPITAL NURSES ANNEX
36–42 Young Street, Sydney
Associated with the history of nursing in Sydney
Martin Place, Sydney
Jessie Street had an office at Challis House.
Challis House (AHC Collection)
Known as ‘the Women’s History Place’ it represents the domestic life of a family of women from the early twentieth century.
NORTHERN TERRITORY MUNMARLAY HOMESTEAD COMPLEX
Within NT Portion 4061, Kakadu National Park
BROCKS CREEK TOWNSHIP
An example of a rural property that employed Aboriginal girls as domestics.
Included the Federation Hotel and store which was acquired in about 1922 by Fanny Hayes and her husband. An example of women working in partnership with their husbands in small business.
KNOTTS CROSSING HOTEL AND STORE
George Road, Katherine
An example of a hotel and store operated by various women, sometimes on their own and sometimes with their husband.
CWA/RED CROSS SHOP
12 Knuckey Street, Darwin
An example of premises built specifically for a women’s organisation in Darwin.
CWA/Red Cross Shop (Heritage Conservation Services, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment)
FORMER CWA ROOMS
95 Todd Street, Alice Springs
The building was originally known as the Allied Works Council (AWC) Women’s Recreation Hall (c. 1942). During World War II, army nurses attached to 109 Australian General Hospital and the women of the Voluntary Aid Detachments were based in Alice Springs. The women’s recreation hall was provided for those women, and later for the staff of the Allied Works Council, and is an important reminder of the vital role played by women during the war period. A CWA branch was formed in Alice Springs in 1933, but it was not until 1947 that it occupied the old AWC Recreation Room. Apart from regular meetings, the rooms were used as a kindergarten from 1947 to 1954. The CWA played a vital role in supporting women in isolated communities, including women living on stations.
Used as a convalescent home for women on the land, and accommodated single women during World War II.
Adelaide House (AHC Collection)
CHANNEL ISLAND LEPROSARIUM
Channel Island, Darwin
Associated with women’s work as nurses.
OLIVE PINK FLORA RESERVE
Tuncks Road, Alice Springs
Memorial to Olive Pink, early female anthropologist.
RETTA DIXON HOME
Training school for Aboriginal girls removed from their parents.
ALICE SPRINGS HOSPITAL
Associated with the history of nursing, especially in remote areas.
RYAN WELL HISTORIC RESERVE AND GLEN MAGGIE HOMESTEAD 3.3 Approximately 129 kms north of Alice Springs
Glen Maggie Homestead was established 500 metres from Ryan Well to take advantage of the wells and Overland Telegraph Line. Sam Nicker and his family established ‘Glen Maggie’ in 1914 as a sheep and cattle station. From 1921, the homestead served as a small telegraph station and local store. Glen Maggie Station was incorporated into the Aileron Cattle Station. However Mrs ‘Cloudy’ Beale operated the telegraph station and store until the services were abandoned in 1935.
Ryan Well Historic Reserve and Glen (Heritage Conservation Services, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment)
OLD PLAYFORD CLUB HOTEL
Main Terrace, Pine Creek
Built in 1889, it was the first hotel in Pine Creek. For a period Joe Cleary and his wife acted as publicans. From the beginning of 1922 until the end of 1926 Pine Creek Hotel was advertised in the Northern Standard with Mrs Gordon as Proprietress. May Brown bought the hotel in 1927 and had a number of publicans managing the hotel for her. This included Grace Davies. In 1929 the Dowling family purchased the hotel, and Evelyn M Dowling became the licensee.
QUEENSLAND FORMER DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES BUILDING 1.2 91–95 William Street, Brisbane
Originally built as an immigration depot in 1865–66.
SCHOOL OF ARTS
166 Ann Street, Brisbane
Erected in 1865–66, and originally known as the Servants Home, this building provided accommodation to single adult females who had migrated to Queensland and were awaiting employment as domestic servants.
EAGLE FARM WOMEN’S PRISON AND FACTORY SITE 1.1 Terminal Drive, Brisbane
In September 1829, Commandant Patrick Logan of the Moreton Bay penal settlement founded a secondary agricultural establishment approximately eight miles from the town, at Eagle Farm. Female convicts are recorded at Eagle Farm from 1830. In 1837 all female prisoners in Brisbane Town were removed to Eagle Farm. By July 1839, all female prisoners had been removed and Eagle Farm was virtually abandoned. As a Female Factory, it was a site of both punishment and enforced labour.
This property was run by Edith LumleyHill, while her husband managed businesses in Brisbane. She continued to run the property after his death.
Bellevue Homestead (J Holdsworth, AHC Collection)
DOMESTIC SCIENCE SCHOOL
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Precinct
BRENNAN AND GERAGHTY’S STORE
An example of an institution training girls in the domestic sciences.
This shop, dating from 1871 with many additions, was a family business set up by Patrick Brennan and Martin Geraghty. Martin married Patrick’s sister Catherine. Martin Geraghty died in 1902 after which the store was managed by Catherine. Catherine’s role is marked by the business name ‘C. Geraghty’ over the door and by the store records.
SHINGLE INN TEA ROOMS
250 Edward, Brisbane
Opened in 1936 the tearooms were a large employer of women.
HOLY SPIRIT LAUNDRY
An example of a laundry run by a religious order (Catholic) providing employment to ‘women in need’.
NURSES’ HOME, ROYAL BRISBANE HOSPITAL Herston Road, Herston
5.2 Lady Lamington Nurses’ Home has provided accommodation to nurses for nearly a century.
ALL HALLOWS’ CONVENT AND SCHOOL
547 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
All Hallows’ Convent was the first permanent home of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland and has remained a focal point for their activities until the present day. The school and convent has associations with Mother Mary Vincent Whitty who established the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland; and Mother Mary Potter who was a long time Superior of the order. The Sisters of Mercy were principally a teaching order, founded in Ireland by Catherine McAuley in 1831. All Hallows’ is an example of a site of
women’s employment as well as an educational institution preparing girls for future employment.
FRANK RUDD RESIDENCE
Designed by Beatrice Hutton, an early woman architect from Queensland.
Designed by Elina Mottram, an early woman architect from Queensland.
QUEENSLAND CWA GIRLS’ HOSTEL
5 Brisbane Street, Ipswich
Closely associated with the work of the QCWA in providing supervised city accommodation for young country girls, particularly students.
AUSTRALIAN MEAT INDUSTRY EMPLOYEES UNION (QUEENSLAND BRANCH) 6.3 101–111 Flinders Street, Townsville
The AMIEU (Qld) was involved in a fight for equal wages in the 1950s and 1960s. See Jerrard, M. ‘A surprising struggle? The AMIEU (Qld) and the fight for equal wages in the meat processing and export industry in the 1950s and 1960s’, Labour History, no. 77, Nov. 1999, 140–150.
Rhyndarra Street, Yeronga
A nineteenth century house that was later used as an orphans’ and girls’ home run by the Salvation Army. The site was occupied by the army in World War II. A hospital was constructed in the grounds for Australian servicewomen and for the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service (AAMWS) training. The extant house has a strong association with servicewomen in World War II through its use as an officers’ mess.
Canning Street, Rockhampton
The hospital site has importance for its associations with Sister Kenny, who became renowned medical figure for her treatment of people with poliomyelitis. It was also the principal place of public health care in Rockhampton for about 130 years, and thus a place of employment for many female nurses.
UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND MEDICAL SCHOOL 288 Herston Road, Herston
5.1, 5.3 Associated with the entry of the first women medical students at the University of Queensland.
New England Highway, Glengallen
An example of a farming property run by a woman, after the death of her husband. By 1907, Clara Gillespie was farming the Glengallan Homestead portion with her son Alexander Frederick Gillespie.
Glengallen Homestead (AHC Collection)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA MARGARET GRAHAM NURSES HOME
Royal Adelaide Hospital
Built in 1908–10, it is reflective of women’s role in nursing. Named after one of South Australia’s most notable nurses, the Margaret Graham Nurses Home was built in 1908–1910. The building is associated with developments in nursing.
FORMER ADVANCED SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
101 Grote Street, Adelaide
First secondary school for girls in South Australia.
FORMER QUEEN VICTORIA HOSPITAL
160 Fullarton Road, Rose Park
Associated with the history of nursing in South Australia, and the provision of medical care to women
LADY SYMON BUILDING
University of Adelaide
A meeting place for female students at the University of Adelaide from 1929.
SALVATION ARMY WOMEN’S HOSTEL
341 Angas Street, Adelaide
Represents the work of the Salvation Army in providing a safe environment for women, particularly working women from country areas. Built in 1922, it illustrates the presence of an increasing number of women in the workforce in the interwar period.
FORMER GIRLS FRIENDLY SOCIETY HOSTEL
59 Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide
Providing accommodation to girls working in the city
Former Girls Friendly Society Hostel (AHC Collection)
SOUTH ADELAIDE CRECHE (FORMER)
15 Gouger Street, Adelaide
Associated with the history of women and childcare in South Australia. Represents a symbol of, and physical link with, the early development of organised childcare for working mothers. Demolished in 1996, despite considerable protest.
South Adelaide Crèche (A. Riddle, AHC Collection)
SALISBURY EXPLOSIVES FACTORY (FORMER) Commercial Road, Salisbury
4.3 Associated with women working in munitions factories during World War II.
THE MENZ BISCUIT FACTORY
82–96 Wakefield Street, Adelaide
Built in 1878, it reflects the growth of manufacturing in South Australia from the 1850s to the 20th century. The factory is important for its association with Magdalena Menz, who took over the management of her husband’s business after his death.
RAA BUILDING (FORMERLY YWCA)
49–51 Hindmarsh Sq, Adelaide
Established in 1900, the place is associated with the rise of the Young Women’s Christian Association, (YWCA), and with the tradition of philanthropic works. Also associated with South Australian founder of the YWCA, Lady Colton. During World War II it was a hostel for munitions workers.
ST JOSEPH’S CONVENT AND CHAPEL
286 Portrush Rd, Kensington
Associated with Mary MacKillop and the work of the Sisters of St Joseph. Nuns received training for teaching and other work.
ST MARY’S DOMINICAN CONVENT
253–299 Franklin St, Adelaide
Earliest sections of the convent were built as a poor school, and were associated with Mary McKillop and J. E. Tension Woods, who founded the Institute of The Sisters of St Joseph.
5.1, 5.2, 6.4
193–195 Tynte St, North Adelaide
Associated with the South Australia Kindergarten Union. The building was donated to the Kindergarten Union by Mrs A. E. and Miss E. K. Barker. It opened on 2 August 1926, with pupils and staff being transferred from the Archer Street Kindergarten. It illustrates the development of the kindergarten movement in particular and that of pre-school education in general, particularly after the advances made in child welfare and education after World War One.
TASMANIA ROSS FEMALE FACTORY
Portugal Street, Ross
Built in the early 1840s, it was a gaol for female convicts from 1847 to 1854. It was one of four female factories established in Tasmania. The name ‘Female Factory’ was abbreviated from the British institutional title ‘Manufactory’, and referred to the prison’s role as a ‘work house’. While incarcerated, the inmates worked at laundry and sewing brought in on contract from the local community. Convicts were divided into three classes: the punishment class sentenced to periods of ‘separate treatment’ in the
solitary cells; the crime class incarcerated in the prison; and the hiring class given privileged positions within the Factory until they were assigned as domestic servants to local properties.
Degraves Street, Hobart
Associated with female convict labour.
Cascades Female Factory site (AHC Collection)
Associated with the arrival of large numbers of convict women and with assisted female immigrants.
THE EMIGRATION DEPOT
17–19 Hunter Street, Hobart
In 1851 the depot was first used by passengers of the Beulah, including the 169 single women on board.
CATHERINE KEARNEY’S DAIRY (SITE OF; DEMOLISHED) 2.2 58 Collins Street, Hobart
Catherine Kearney ran a small dairy from some time around 1811 until the late 1820s.
MARY PARKER’S LODGING HOUSE (SITE OF; DEMOLISHED) 3.3, 4.2 Campbell Street, Hobart
An example of a house doubling as a workplace.
MRS REX’S GENERAL REGISTRY OFFICE (SITE OF; DEMOLISHED) 3.1  Liverpool Street, Hobart
During the 1840s, Mrs Rex established a registry office to link servants with prospective employers.
REMINGTON BUSINESS COLLEGE
Temple Place, 121 Macquarie Street, Hobart
Training college for telephonists and typists.
JONES & CO IXL
Hunter Street, Hobart
Jones & Co’s jam factory was a large employer of casual female labour in the early part of the twentieth century.
QUEEN MARY CLUB
145 Macquarie Street, Hobart
A social club for professional women.
Queen Mary Club (AHC Collection)
MT ST CANICE COMPLEX
15–17 St Canice Avenue, Lower Sandy Bay
Mount St Canice complex served as a home and retreat for many generations of girls and young women. It demonstrates important aspects of the history and development of women’s reformatory principles and social welfare in Tasmania.
WATERWORTH BUILDING/OPTICAL ANNEX Brooker Avenue, Glebe
4.3 Associated with developments in war time technology, namely as a purposebuilt optical factory. It is a significant demonstration of a World War II workplace principally employing women.
WCTU TEA ROOMS
31a Murray Street, Hobart
The WCTU was active in the suffrage movement.
PATONS BALDWINS WOOL MILLING FACTORY Glen Dhu St, Glen Dhu
4.3 Associated with significant changes in the nature and demographics of the labour force in the period since the 1920s. By the 1940s, the factory was experiencing a war time boom. During this period, the workforce consisted mainly of women and young girls, although some men continued on as reserved labour. Women began working in order to fulfil the massive production requirements of making industrial yarn for the Armed Forces. The plant ran almost non-stop during the war years; the shifts were long and the pay was low.
3 Elboden St, South Hobart
The house Manilla is significant for its association with Tasmanian poet Helen Power who wrote many poems while living there from 1902 to circa 1952. Power won several Bulletin awards and her works were published in a number of Australian anthologies. Power’s poetry is significant for expressing female experience in early twentieth century Tasmania and important in the evolution of women’s literature in Tasmania.
While little information is available on the women who lived at Sarah Island and the Macquarie Harbour penal settlement, the information that does exist indicates that the female population was composed of a handful of convicts, the wives of military and civil officers, and the wives of a small number of convicts. A number of convict women were kept on the island to work as domestic servants for the officers and their wives.
VICTORIA IMMIGRATION DEPOT
6 Denison Street, Port Albert
Established to provide accommodation to workers, including many single women, arriving in the Gippsland region in the 1850s.
FORMER MOUNT ALEXANDER SILK WORM FARM Harcourt
2.2, 4.2 In 1872, Mrs Bladen Neill and the Victorian Ladies Sericultural Company established a silk worm farm on land at Mount Alexander, obtained through a grant from the Minister of Lands. The site is associated with the role of women in nineteenth century industry. The farm was one of the first sericulture ventures established by a co-operative group rather than an individual, and is one of only a small number of archaeologically documented businesses run by women in the nineteenth century.
Former Mount Alexander Silk Worm Farm (by permission of Heritage Victoria)
1–69 McDermott Road, Drysdale
Erected in 1849 for pioneer female squatting partners, Drysdale and Newcomb.
EMILY MCPHERSON COLLEGE
369–405 Russell St, Melbourne
Established in the 1920s. The college reflects a period in which women’s access to post-secondary education was limited, with broader education largely obtainable only through the context of domestic training. The school is also associated with the employment of women as teachers.
DEFENCE EXPLOSIVE FACTORY, MARIBYRNONG Cordite Avenue, Maribyrnong
4.3 The factory serves as a reminder of the change in the nature of the workforce during World War II when women represented approximately half of the Maribyrnong workforce.
SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION CLEAN AREA (DEMOLISHED) 4.3 Gordon Street, Footscray
Associated with the women working in munition factories during World War II.
ALBION EXPLOSIVES FACTORY (FORMER) Ballarat Road, Deer Park
4.3 Associated with the employment of women in munitions work during World War II.
SWALLOW AND ARIELL BISCUIT FACTORY COMPLEX 4.1 Stokes Street, Port Melbourne
An example of a large factory site. Within the manufacturing industry, biscuit factories were a large employer of women, particularly in the packing areas.
Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Factory (M Walkington, AHC Collection)
SINGLETON MEDICAL CENTRE
162 Wellington Street, Collingwood
A supporter of women in medical practice. The Collingwood dispensary was the first practice to employ a female doctor, Laura Morgan.
Singleton Medical Centre (by permission of Heritage Victoria)
FORMER QUEEN VICTORIA HOSPITAL
172–254 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
The hospital was founded by women for women. It is associated with Dr Constance Stone and the Victorian Medical Women’s Society.
26 Albany Rd, Toorak
The house was designed by Muriel Stott, an early woman architect working in Melbourne in the 1920s. It is also associated with Edna Walling, landscape designer.
FORMER CHEMIST SHOP
90 Ormond Road, Elwood
Associated with Alice Kelso Baker, one of the first women chemists in Australia.
Former Chemist Shop, Ormond Road (by permission of Heritage Victoria)
JANET CLARKE HALL
University of Melbourne
A college for female university students.
CAFÉ AUSTRALIA (FORMER)
Designed by Marion Mahoney Griffin. According to Anna Russo, ‘the Café Australia was an extravagant and breathtaking work, and [the Griffins] had engaged women artists to make the goddess sculptures and murals. Marion . . . designed the menu, the cutlery and the dinnerware’.
109–117 Swanston St, Melbourne
The drawings for the Capitol Theatre were prepared by Marion Mahoney Griffin.
MARION MAHONEY GRIFFIN’S OFFICES
395 Collins Street, Melbourne
Site of Marion Mahoney Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin’s architectural offices in the 1920s.
Swanston St, Parkville
The building was designed by the architectural practice owned by Marion Mahoney Griffin and Walter Burley Griffin, and is associated with Marion Mahoney Griffin’s extensive design work in Australia. The gardens were designed by Emily Gibson, an early woman landscape architect.
FORMER CARLTON CRECHE
111 Neill Street, Carlton
Established in 1919 for the children of working mothers in the Carlton area.
FORMER MICKVEH YISRAEL SYNAGOGUE AND SCHOOL 6.4 275–285 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
The site of a free kindergarten for children of poor parents. The need for the kindergarten increased during World War I when many women entered the workforce.
ANZ BANK (LYCEUM CLUB)
Collins Street, Melbourne
Associated with the Lyceum Club, founded in 1912, which was open to women who had a university education. For 32 years, the Club had rooms in the ANZ Gothic Bank in Melbourne. Mrs Lorna Phillips, in collaboration with Mr Moresby, worked on the remodelling of the rooms to house the Club.
Queens Road, Melbourne
Designed by Mary Turner Shaw and Frederic Romberg, in the 1940s. ‘Newburn Flats was considered to be an “important” building and appeared in several journals of the time, particularly Art in Australia, 1941’ (Schoffel, 106).
Walsh Street, South Yarra
Designed by Mary Turner Shaw and Frederic Romberg.
Russell Street, Melbourne
Opened in 1913 to provide accommodation to young women, particularly ‘girl students, business girls [or] girl travellers’.
GIRLS FRIENDLY SOCIETY LODGE (FORMER)
Russell Street, Melbourne
Original site of the first GFS, a ‘small club for immigrants and travellers’ who were travelling ‘in search of work, or to take up positions already promised’.
ALLENBY LODGE (FORMER)
Burwood Road, Hawthorn
A Salvation Army hostel, opened in 1919, to ‘provide a “home-like” atmosphere ... “for young girls in business who are away from their homes”’ (O’Hanlon, S. ‘For the upholding of womanhood: Melbourne’s interwar hostels for ‘business girls”’, Victorian Historical Journal, vol 70, no.2, Nov. 1999, 119).
WESTERN AUSTRALIA WESTRAIL MIDLAND RAILWAY WORKSHOPS Midland
4.3 During World War II the workshops played an important role in the manufacture of armaments and equipment. In this period, large numbers of women were employed at the workshops.
KING EDWARD MEMORIAL HOSPITAL GROUP Bagot Rd, Subiaco
5.1, 5.2 A group of four buildings which each represent a major stage in the development of the King Edward Memorial Hospital from 1896 to 1952. It includes the 1896 industrial school for girls, which later became the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, associated with the history of nursing and the provision of medical care to women.
King Edward Memorial Hospital (AHC Collection)
PRINCESS MARGARET HOSPITAL FOR WOMEN Thomas Street, Subiaco
5.2 Associated with history of nursing and provision of medical care to women.
LITTLE CITIZENS’ KINDERGARTEN
Robertson Street, East Perth
An early kindergarten established by the Kindergarten Union in Western Australia.
KINDERGARTEN UNION PRE-SCHOOL
41 Marquis Street, Perth
One of the first kindergartens formed by the Western Australian Kindergarten Union.
KINDERGARTEN UNION PRE-SCHOOL
160 Pier Street, East Perth
The first free kindergarten organised by the Western Australian Kindergarten Union in 1912. The building was also used for the training of kindergarten teachers.
5.2, 5.2, 6.1
The home of Bessie Rischbeith, an early feminist, involved in the formation of the WA Kindergarten Union and other campaigns. It was later used for training kindergarten teachers.
ST BRIGID’S CONVENT (FORMER)
John Street, Northbridge
The place has historic associations with the Sisters of Mercy and the provision of secondary education to girls.
5.3, 5.4, 5.5
Harvest Terrace, Perth
Associated with Edith Cowan (first woman member of State Assembly); May Holman (first women Labor member of the Legislative Assembly; Florence Cardell-Oliver (first woman cabinet minister in the State Assembly); and Carmen Lawrence (the first women premier).
EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY
5.1, 5.3, 5.5
67 Pearson Street, Churchlands
Named after Edith Cowan, the first woman member of a State Assembly.
EDITH COWAN MEMORIAL CLOCK
Kings Park Road, West Perth
A memorial to Edith Cowan, the first woman member of a State Assembly. The memorial acknowledges her contribution to the struggle for women to have a place and voice in public political life.
KATHARINE SUSANNAH PRICHARD’S HOUSE 11 Old York Road, Greenmount
3.3 The house has a close association with writer, Katharine Susannah Prichard.
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Cnr Stirling Highway and Hampden Road
Associated with the entry of women into university education, and with pioneering university women including Cheryl Praeger, UWA’s first female maths professor.