Married Women and Work

I have just finished listening to this fascinating piece of radio. It is about Broken Hill, a remote mining town in New South Wales, and its claim that the sex discrimination act didn’t apply to them. And, it didn’t apply to them until 1981 when a young married woman wanted to keep her job. She took on her employer, which lead to the unions (who completely ran the town) being forced to change their rules and allow married women a union ticket and therefore work in the town.

How did they get away with this? Besides controlling who had work and who didn’t, the Barrier Industrial Council (union run) got cozy with enough relevant people in 1966 when the bar on married women working in government was lifted and successfully argued that their town needed to continue the practice of women, when they married, to step aside so another young woman could have the job and therefore share the work around the community “fairly”. Of course, they believed that married men were responsible for the economic security of the family and that therefore married women were taking jobs they didn’t really need.

Great radio and a great history of one of the public fights for equal rights for women in Australia.

There is also this excellent online exhibition to explore too.

One Response to “Married Women and Work”
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  1. […] married). It is such a recent history and it is wonderful to see it getting attention. I wrote a post earlier in the year about Broken Hill’s very ‘special’ arrangements and the radio […]

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