|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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