Womens Employment and Professionalism in Australia
Histories, Themes and Places
Dr Maria Nugent
Australian Heritage Commission
About the report
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.