Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Women In My Life

Agnes Scott, Rita Walker, Mary Jane Walker, Elizabeth Mottram,
Charlotte Drayton, Danielle, Ellen Walker
Mary Ann Scott, Me , Joy, Eva Scott
Jane Warrick, Mary Ann Pilgrim, Edith Geyer, Mabel Pilgrim

Girls commencing work today would not believe how things have changed in the past 30+ years!

When I started working, what we today know as "discrimination" was accepted as normal practice!

As a junior,  I made the coffee for all the men in the office every morning and afternoon.  It was an accepted part of my role to be the "gopher".  In the days before every branch had a photo copier, it was my job to run across the road to get any photocopying done!  I didn't mind as being a smoker back then, it gave me the opportunity to have a cigarette, as females were not allowed to smoke in front of customers (but the men could).  In the early years of banking,  I remember being disciplined for coming to work in trousers!

I was ambitious from a young age but had many doubters.............and they were not afraid to tell me either!  That just made me more determined!  When I was 20 , I was told that I could not have a supervisors role because "You are female and under age 21" even though I had been successfully relieving in the role for months!   Hard to imagine today!

A male colleague actually laughed at me one day and told me that I would never be a manager as I would "just get married and have babies".  I did get married and have babies but continued working! I achieved my ambition to be a Manager before I was age 30 and am proud that I was the first female branch manager in Gippsland.  How I hated playing golf after manager's conferences!  However, it was something that I needed to do to be considered an equal.  In reality,  I feel that I had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues to be considered equal!

I do not write this to complain but instead to highlight how things have changed. We have come a long way but unfortunately we still have a way to go until men and females are equal in the workplace.

However, I have had it easy compared to my female ancestors pictured above. Every one of the ladies above (except my daughter) has a story of adversity and courage.

My Great Great Great Grandmother, Jane Bound, was 39 years old with 8 children and another on the way when her husband died.  Jane was too old to come to Australia from England, but did not take "no" for an answer and successfully applied for a special dispensation from the Queen to bring her family to Australia in 1878.  That took courage!

When I chose to be a working mother, I did not realise that my Great Great Grandmother, Edith Geyer, was one of the first working mothers.   After her husband died of typhoid in 1899, she needed to work to maintain custody of her seven children.  The family faced further adversity and nearly died when the family went by wagon to Mildura to pick fruit.  You can read about it here.
Nurse Edith Geyer later built a successful private hospital business (with no formal education).  She was certainly an early survivor and entrepreneur.

March is Women's Family History Month and Tuesday March 8th is International Women's day. I would like to take this opportunity to remember and thank the strong women in my family.  I am proud to come from a long line of determined and resourceful women.  Maybe I have inherited my resilience, determination and work ethic from my fore-bearers?

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15 comments:

  1. At least in the prompt photo there are both men and women gathering water! :)

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  2. What a great post to highlight several of your foremothers and the differences in their lives and ours, as well as the strength of several of your grandmothers. Well done, Sharon.

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  3. Great post. Edith was really something and so are you.

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    1. Thank you Helen. That is so nice of you to say!

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  4. Excellent collage! I wish I knew a bit more about my female ancestors. I thought the discussion of feminism on Q&A last night was very good, Penny Wong in particular.

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    1. I am afraid that I missed it. Thanks Jo!

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  5. Great post!! I can empathise with you over similar work experiences over 40 odd years, including the mixed family message of "you can do anything" vs "you should be home looking after the family".

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    1. Ooh Yes. It was more the inlaws that wanted me at home.

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  6. The one time I felt discriminated against was during an interview for a position as an English teacher. The questions were ho-hum until finally the principal said, "We're really looking for someone to coach football AND teach English." Really?? I wonder how many football coaches just happen to have a degree in English.

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  7. What did you say? I wonder how many English teachers could teach football?

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  8. Sharon, I have included your post in Interesting Blogs at
    http://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2016/03/friday-fossicking-11th-march-2016.html
    Thanks, Chris

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  9. Interesting and strong women in your family. Yes, women have worked hard to achieve the freedom we are enjoying now. That is why I can not understand that some Australian women can put on a jihab and go back to the "dark" ages.

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