Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay

By Zelda D’Aprano | Go to book overview

3
Women’s postwar moves on
equal pay and the ACTU

With the men returning from the war, great emphasis was placed on women leaving industry and returning to the home. It was this period that became known as the ‘baby boom’. The austerity of the war years had passed, girls were getting married younger and people were striving to obtain housing and commodities.

Of the ex-service women who returned home there were those who had no wish to live as their mothers had done. Among them, Claire McNamara who, in Labor Digest, asked, ‘Must women return to the kitchen?’, while Margaret Harland demanded equal pay and equal opportunities of employment in her article in Women’s Place in Society, published in 1947. Margaret, then a housewife, had been a member of the Army Education Service in wartime and felt that women—whether in the services, on the land, or in the home—had proved their worth during the war, had earned a stronger place in society and it was time for their voices to be heard.1

Women schoolteachers had also developed increased awareness and resentment towards discrimination by working side by side with men in a profession where the difference in male and female rates of pay was blatantly observed. In the outback areas of Queensland, women teachers incurred the same expenses for board and lodging as men teachers, yet they

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