Girls and Tea Ladies

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In Australia in 1956, Melbourne became the first city in the southern hemisphere ... at Perth Technical College when selected to go to London, also won bronze ...

Girls and Tea Ladies: Involvement of Australian Female Athletes and Administrators in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Ian Jobling Preamble In world events and affairs, 1956 was the year John Osborne's Look Back in Anger was performed; Grace Metalious' Peyton Place was published; Lerner and Loewe's musical, 'My Fair Lady' opened in New York; Elvis Presley's popularity was assured with hits such as 'Blue Suede Shoes' and 'Hound Dog'; Prince Rainier married Grace Kelly; John Utzon designed Sydney's Opera House; Olympic athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias died of cancer; Floyd Paterson, aged 21, became the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title when he knocked out Archie Moore; Ken Rosewall won the US Singles championship; and Australia's female athletes in swimming and track events became known as the 'Golden Girls'. In Australia in 1956, Melbourne became the first city in the southern hemisphere to host the Olympic Games. At that time Australia's estimated population figures (excluding full-blooded aborigines) were Australia 8,986,530; males 4,546,118; females: 4,440,412 (masculinity 102.72). The population of the major capital cities were: Melbourne 1,677,000; Sydney 1,975,000; Brisbane 543,000; Perth 376,000. Average weekly wage rates were: 316 shillings, 5 pence ($31.65) and 213 shillings, 2 pence ($21.32) for adult males and females, respectively.1 This article will focus on the 1956 Olympic Games to consider and ascertain the role and place of women in Australian society, generally, and, more specifically, in Australian 'sport' as both athletes and sporting administrators.2 Only brief, representational images of the successful Australian female athletes at these Games will be presented because it is assumed most people are aware of the success of Australia's female athletes at these Games. Some background about the involvement of women, or the lack of it, in any substantial way in the preparation, organisation and administration of the Melbourne Olympics will then be presented. Sentences and words from official 1956 Olympic documents and contemporary media reports will be used to contrast the situation where Australian women were depicted as 'tea-ladies' or persons of 'lesser significance


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and importance' in administration at a time when the achievements of the female champions were lauded. Concluding remarks will include comment about some changes that have arisen since the Melbourne Olympics, and whether the 'Melbourne experience' made any difference to women in sport, in particular sport administration, in Australia. Introduction The Second World War brought a change to the attitude that many Australian women held throughout 1930s when they still regarded their role as workers with modesty and a career was still synonymous with spinsterhood. Rosalie Stephenson, among others, has offered an explanation: To meet the need for civilian workers, women who were not caring for young and fully dependent children were required to register for jobs which had been vacated by members of the military services or had been created by the need to supply munitions, uniforms, canned foods, and so on.3 Unfortunately, many women in uniform became victims of cartoonists, being depicted as either 'typically female' - dithery and incompetent - or aggressive, tough and masculine. In spite of such attitudes, and long hours of work in poor conditions, women appreciated the greater independence that work in the 'war effort' offered.4 They now asserted unashamedly that they enjoyed working; they liked the feeling of being 'in it'; they liked getting out of the house ('though it's hard work, mind you') and most of all they liked their own pay packet.5 The end of the war in mid-decade heralded a rapid fire of marriage, family life and suburbia. Australian men came back to their 'normal' jobs and housewives returned to full time 'domesticity' but their war-time experiences in the 'work-force' were not forgotten. Women's sport gained momentum after the war, and there was even an appointment of an officer in charge of women's physical education in the Commonwealth Health Department. Frank Doczy claimed that while women lagged behind in business and scientific life, 'there is one field in which Australian women hold their own against men and that is sport.'6 Doczy's claim is justified with reference to medal-winning at the postwar Olympic Games. Immediately before the 1948 London Olympics it was known from performances and times that Australian female athletes would perform better than the males. However, the entirely male Olympic selection panels chose only four women to compete in track, and one in long jump (Judy Canty). Fortunately, for the first time, a 4 x 100 metres women's track relay team was chosen; Shirley Strickland, Joyce King, June Matson and Betty McKinnon won the silver medal.7 Strickland, who was teaching physics and mathematics at Perth Technical College when selected to go to London, also won bronze

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medals in both the 100 metres and 80 metres hurdles. The Australian team, comprising 67 males and 9 females, won a total of two gold, six silver and five bronze medals of which the females won 2 silver and 3 bronze.8 Shirley Strickland continued her accumulation of Olympic medals in Helsinki in 1952, winning gold in the 80 metres hurdles and bronze in the 100 metres; Marjorie Jackson won the 100 and 200 metres sprints. Australia won a total of eleven medals - six gold (three won by women), two silver, and three bronze. Australia's 4 x 100 metres relay team, comprising Strickland, Jackson, Winsome Cripps and Verna Johnson, won their heat in a world-record time (46.1 sees) but, when leading by a metre at the final change, Cripps knocked the baton from Jackson's knee soon after the change-over, but still finished fourth. The 1956 Olympics - 'golden girls' These post-war Olympic performances set the scene for the Melbourne Olympics. As the torch relay made its way by a circuitous route from Cairns to Melbourne, carried by a total of 2,831 runners' - notably all male - Australia's female athletes in a number of sports were expected to do well. They did! In Melbourne, male athletes had the opportunity to compete in sixteen sports; women competed in only five - canoeing, fencing, gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. There were a total of 3184 athletes - 2,813 males and 371 females. The Australian team of 314 athletes comprised 270 men and 44 women. Although making up only 16% of the team, the women won 40% of the medals. The Australian media was ecstatic at this result; under the headline 'Australian Girls Win More Honours at Games', it was reported in The Age on December 3 that 'Thirty-six Gold Medals were won in Olympic events on Saturday ...and Australia's peerless girls won two of them with world record performances on cinders and in water'.10 Marion Stell has stated in Half the Race: At the conclusion of the Olympics, Australia's 20 women athletes had won four gold and three bronze medals and the public could not help but notice that the men's team, although 55 in number, had only secured two silver and two bronze. Suddenly the press was hunting down the reasons for women's ascendancy. Where had they come from? Weren't sportsmen our great national heroes? Wasn't sport dangerous and unnatural for women?11 One male, a most distinguished commentator of the achievements of Australians, hinted at the answer in the Sydney Morning Herald a few weeks after the Melbourne Games: Many are guessing as to why our girls showed so splendidly in the


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Games. ... I would guess that the outstanding strength of our sportswomen has lain in theirmorale. Anyone who knows the selfreliance, energy and unselfishness of some of their organisations raising funds for their grounds and equipment and even for overseas tours, by rigorous voluntary effort, must be impressed by their enterprise and good citizenship.12 The 1956 Olympics - the 'tea ladies' Apart from a sprinkling of female athletes, the impression one gains from looking at photographs and movie-film of the various sporting events of the Melbourne Olympics is that it was a predominantly masculine event. This, of course, is true when one considers the relative number of events for males as compared with females. From a perusal of the Official Report of the Melbourne Olympic Games, it is clear that males were in control of all matters pertaining to the Olympic Movement and the 1956 Olympic Games. It would be another twenty-five years before women would be appointed to the International Olympic Committee.13 Of the sixty-five members of the Melbourne Olympic Committee (MOC), only two were women (Misses Doris Carter and Sybil Taggart); there were twentyone members of the all-male Technical Sub-Committee;14 the twenty-eight Press Officers were all men, as were the Fine Arts and Festival sub-Committees.15 Apart from Misses Carter and Taggart, whose functions will be considered later, what roles did women play in the Organisation of the Melbourne Olympic Games? Some clues of the extent and nature of the tasks and duties may be gleaned from the Official Report of the Australian Team in Melbourne (as compiled by Edgar Tanner, Honorary General Manager): Accommodation:... was very good, and the housemaids responsible for our houses in the women's section added greatly to the comfort of team members.... the television set provided was a very useful amenity ... additional facilities provided in the women's quarters were the electric steam iron, washing machines, and rotary clothes lines. These were used to the fullest by members. A gesture which was appreciated by the women members of all teams was that of the women of Heidelberg, who not only placed a posy on the pillow of each new arrival, but in addition kept the houses supplied with fresh flowers...16 Extracts from the XVIth Olympiad News Releases also provide information about the roles women played:

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Housewives Back to Work for Games About 400 Melbourne housewives will go back to work in November at Melbourne's Olympic Village. The women, all from the surrounding suburb of Heidelberg, are part of a team of 2,200 who will staff the Village during the Games.Most of the housewives will work on a part-time basis - doing typing, filing, clerical and reception work, besides lending a hand at some types of housework.17 Home Away From Home For Olympics Mothers - your sons and daughters going to Melbourne to compete in Olympic Games, will be in good hands. The Camp Commandant of the Olympic Village, Mr Phil Miskin, in July called for 1600 good humoured housewives to enlist as housekeepers at the Village during the Games.... They will ...make beds, tidy the 841 houses where the athletes will live, and serve as waitresses.18 Staff Call for Olympic Village Olympic Village authorities in Melbourne will welcome you with open arms if you know how to serve a cup of coffee collect dishes or wash a plate. ...If some Melbourne housewives wonder just what gives Ceylonese curries that extra pep or how Italians really like their spaghetti, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn', says Mr Ted Michel, Village personnel officer.19 Many Seek Games 'Glamour' Jobs Hundreds of women have been attracted by the 'glamour' Olympic job of chauffeur to international Olympic officials and other highranking visitors to Melbourne during the Olympic Games.20 A year later The Age reported that the female chauffeurs 'loved their job' and considered their work 'the plum of all the multitudinous jobs which women are doing for the Melbourne Olympics'.21 Although this feature appeared in the 'Women's Section' of the newspaper, many of similar ilk were published as genuine news items.22 The following appeared under the headline 'Women Playing a Part: Men may have the chief executive positions in the Olympic Games Organisation, but behind the scenes several hundred women are doing a variety of responsible jobs. ...Their tasks range from chauffeuring overseas Olympic officials to sewing on lost buttons. Women are staffing 10 international dining rooms and finding accommodation for thousands of tourists.... Another section of


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Melbourne women arranges for the delivery of enough fresh flowers every day to place in the dining rooms, the reception rooms and main offices and to keep a vase of blossoms in each bedroom.23 The above comments are from press releases from the MOC - but there are also many which were included in the daily press by journalists. For example, Bill Tipping, a popular Melbourne columnist for the Herald, reported that the housekeepers and maids at the Olympic Village were 'mothering' the athletes, 'doing their washing for them, ... pressing their clothes, etc. This is not part of their duties, they just like doing it'.24 Such comments provide considerable evidence to support the notion that women did not play roles as senior administrators in the Organisation and presentation of the Melbourne Olympics. However, lest one becomes too critical, it should be noted that no previous organising committee for an Olympic Games included women as senior officials or administrators. Bill Tipping wrote in a vein which conveyed and reflected the ambivalence about Australian men and women: About this weaker sex. We've been taking a terrific thrashing from some of these overseas journalists (and the little women - haven't you?) about leaving it to the girls to keep that Australian flag bobbing up above the Scoreboard....It seems to have paid off, letting the women in on the administrative side, too. Australia was the first country in the world to include women on its Organising committee (Miss Doris Carter and Miss Sybil Taggart). Despite the fact that one of the top officials went on record a few years ago, saying 'They'll get there over my dead body'.25 Although it is not known who that official was, or indeed whether he did expire before Misses Carter and Taggart were appointed to the MOC,26 the appointment of these two women was not without difficulty or controversy. Women on the Organising Committee Melbourne was awarded the right to host the Olympic Games in 1956 at a meeting of the IOC in Rome in April 1949. In 1950, the Secretary of the MOC, Edgar Tanner, sent a letter advising the AOF's refusal for representation of Victorian Women's Amateur Sports Association (VWASA);27 this was discussed at length at the AOF's Sydney Conference on May 13,1950. Tanner was reported as stating that there was nothing in the IOC's rules to limit an organising committee to male members, and that it was known that the Chairman of MOC, Sir Frank Beaurepaire, would welcome a woman representative on the organising committee.28 There was also support from the National Council of Women (NCW), which

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was affiliated with more than one hundred women's organisations and many hundreds of thousands of women.29 Dame Enid Lyons, Vice-President of the NCW's Executive Council, and also Federal President of the St Joan's Alliance,30 was reported as stating 'women have earned a place on the Games Organising committee, and it is necessary to have a woman advising the committee in such planning as accommodation for women athletes'.31 Lyons added, 'I have often stated Australia is a man's country ... and I think that the AOF decision is on those lines.'32 It was not until the AOF conference of November 6-7,1953 that delegates heard a report that, with the acquiesce of the Organising Committee for the Melbourne Games, two women (Carter and Taggart) would be appointed 'to look after feminine interests'. Earlier, in July 1953, the Victorian Olympic Council (VOC) received a notice of motion, which read: That the following rule be added to rule I of the Constitution and listed as Rule La: Any Women's Amateur Association, members of which are invited to compete at the Olympic Games, may nominate a Delegate to attend Council meetings. This delegate shall not have any voting power at Council Meetings. When the motion was submitted it was declared lost by VOC Chairman, Tom Uren.33 In September that year, Uren as Chairman again declared lost a motion from the Victorian Amateur Swimming Association 'that the Victorian Women's Amateur Sports Council be permitted to have one (1) delegate to the VOC, this Delegate to have as voice and vote on all matters at each meeting'.34 However, some progress was made when it was agreed that two members of the Victorian Women's Sports Council be invited to attend meetings of the VOC.35 This outcome may seem positive but at the meeting of the VOC the following month (October 8,1953) delegates were asked to vote on a number of items. The first item of about twenty questions, and the most pertinent for this article, was: 1. Are you in favour of limiting the number of participants: i) by excluding women altogether from the Games ii) by exclusion of some items for women. Which? The VOC voted 'no' to both questions. It is noteworthy that these items were generated by the IOC to gain information that was to be presented and discussed at the IOC meeting to be held in Athens in May 1954.36There is no evidence of any representation at that October meeting from the Victorian Amateur Women's Sports Council. An item appeared in the press in early November 1953 which may explain such absence:


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Sybil Taggart, President of the Victorian Women's Amateur Sports Council, has received two letters from the Olympic body in recent days. One says that two representatives of her council can sit in at Olympic Council meetings, but can't vote.... The other points out that since the Olympic Council meets on club premises (the Amateur Sports Club rooms), only men are allowed in. And both letters were in the one envelope.37 Amateur Sports Club officials stated that 'the club was for men, and any attempt to introduce women would be embarrassing'. There was some feeling that some amateur officials were using the club's ruling to fight an allocation by the VWASC for direct representation on the Organising Committee of the 1956 Olympic Games.^Journalist Ken Moses, later to become a Press Officer at the Melbourne Olympics, added his perspective to the issue of the presence of Carter and Taggart at VOC meetings: Can't understand those women wanting to join the Victorian Olympic Council... .No self-respecting woman would step inside the meeting room door... .The language at last Thursday night's meeting would have had the most seasoned bullocky running up the trunk of the nearest mulga tree from sheer fright ...39 Both Sybil Taggart40 and Doris Carter were outstanding candidates for appointment to senior positions of the MOC. Taggart was an international hockey player in 1928 and had been a member of the National Fitness Council since 1941, and the official nominee of the Australian Fitness Council of Women for the Olympic Committee. In 'civilian' life, Taggart was a professional architect (APAIA) with T.S Gill & Son Ltd and had been involved with the design of leading emporiums in Melbourne and other cities. Carter, a competitor in the high jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was President of the Australian Women's Amateur Athletic Union and a VicePresident of the Victorian Women's Amateur Athletics Association at the time of her appointment to the MOC.41 Her post-Olympic civilian activities included resigning from the Victorian Education Department to join the WAAF. She was selected as Officer in Charge of the WAAF members of the Australian Victory Contingent and later invited by the Migration Department to join staff at Australia House in London, where she dealt mainly with child migration.42 However, it was clear that the duties and responsibilities of these two capable sport administrators would be limited from the outset. Harold Alderson, President of the AOF, stated they would have nothing to do with sport, but would help in general organisation of the Games; 'they will help especially with amenities for women athletes and catering arrangements. 43 Some

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elaborations of the duties of women are contained within the text of a broadcast by Taggart on ABC radio.44 Next year women's sport in Australia will receive the greatest boost it has ever known when the 1956 Olympic Games get under way... .Most of the officials controlling women's Olympic sports will be men, but already three women officials have been appointed to help control women's athletics at the Main Stadium...they are Mrs Doris Magee, Mrs M Robertson and Miss Lil Neville45... backing them are their State and national Associations and of course backing all the various sports associations in Australia are their women members. Women athletes and officials, and national bodies such as the powerful National Council of Women have been behind the Games from the very start. We are ready to welcome all women athletes, to entertain where possible, to assist with guidance, advice or just plain good-will At any rate, win, or lose, women athletes will remember their Melbourne visit with affection. Doris Carter eventually became Honorary Assistant General Manager in Charge of the Women's Section of the Athletes' Village. She was informed of the outcome of a postal ballot taken by the AOF that she was 'Team Manageress' only a few weeks before the Melbourne Olympics began.46 Uren reported that Carter 'fulfilled her duties to my entire satisfaction and with credit to herself.'47 Conclusion Clearly, the involvement of women in senior administrative positions of the Melbourne Olympics was very limited. Apart from Doris Carter and Sybil Taggart, the only two women on the MOC, few women had an impact on the administration, organisation or presentation of the 1956 Games. Some of the few women involved in administrative positions with the Australian Olympic Team were: Assistant General Manager, Women's Section - Miss Doris Carter; Athletics - Miss Nell Gould, Chaperone; Swimming - Miss M Long, Chaperone; Physical Director - Mrs C. Saunders.48 There is evidence that women were involved in many of the extraneous 'social' events of the Games; their involvement and impact is recorded regularly in the social and "women's pages", especially of the Melbourne newspapers.49 A telling comment is included in the book, Across the World for Sport: An Olympic Odyssey, by J J Walsh, owner and publisher of the Munster Express Newspaper and Printing Works in Ireland. Walsh has revealed he was in awe of Australian female athletes in the following passage within a chapter entitled 'Feats of Women Wonders': Men, I was to learn, do not stand and stare at the young women of


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Australia for the usual reasons: rather are they made to stop and gaze at them in wonderment for their athletic prowess and selfconfidence. And yet, they retain feminine grace and poise. There is no democratic country where members of the sex are more encouraged to enter into the realm of sports.50 Walsh perhaps epitomises the manner in which Australian females were associated with the 1956 Olympic Games by both the media in this country and overseas. On the one hand, or in a chapter, he extols their athletic prowess. But in another he provides a measure of their true worth - 'their beauty of figure and face' (and one could easily add their ability to serve tea) on the world stage of the Olympic Games. Walsh's scene is a 'gala barbecue' at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, with 'invitations confined to overseas newspaper men and women, broadcasters and televisers'51 Walsh's prosaic description provides an indication of the menu, or menus: To provide the proper setting for a typical Australian barbecue, a large staff of chefs and cooks had been engaged. Their principal function was to ensure that, in the process of open-air cooking on huge braziers, thousands of mutton chops should lose none of their succulence and should reach the guests in a manner guaranteed to satisfy even the most fastidious palate. It was remarkable spectacle ...400 guests standing at tables and being served with the choicest of food and a wide variety of excellent wines and spirits by the scores of waiters and waitresses— Unlike more formal occasions, the spirit of the camaraderie prevailing applied even in the case of the ladies. And what a bevy of beauties they were - all specially selected for their charm of manners, education and glamorous appearance. ... It was all so breathtaking and unique in my experience that I inquired of an official how it came about that a galaxy of attractive members of the opposite sex could be assembled for a gala event of this kind. His reply was interesting. "Australian ladies," he told me, "are noted for their beauty of figure and face. You have already witnessed our prowess in sport. Here, by organised effort, we have brought together hundreds of beauty prizewinners, mannequins, artists' models, air hostesses, and those who fill stellar roles on stage and screen, so that you, gentlemen, who are responsible for spreading the news in all its facets, may have an opportunity of judging for your discriminating selves."52 It is appropriate in this conclusion to reflect and comment on changes which have arisen since the 1956 Olympic Games, and whether the 'Melbourne

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experience' made any difference to women in sport, in particular sport administration, in this country. Certainly, the immediate effect was not great only one woman was among the flag-bearers for the Closing Ceremony.53 What follows is an interview with 'June' soon after her appointment as a sports administrator. After I was hired I got to the first board meeting early. I had only met a couple of the board members and didn't know the bunch who rolled up first. One of them walked up to me and said, 'How about getting us a cup of tea, love?' He assumed I was the bloody secretary there to serve him tea - never dreamed that I was the new manager!54 'June' was not a 'tea-lady' associated with the Melbourne Olympics; she was interviewed as part of a study for the Australian Sports Commission conducted by Dr Jim McKay in the early 1990s. One might surmise that the number of women in senior or executive positions in national sporting organisations and state and federal government sport agencies has increased greatly. It hasn't!55 However, there have been some significant appointments that may be related to the efforts of the women involved at the many levels of involvement at the 1956 Olympics. For example, in 1968 Doris Magee became the first woman to serve on a state Olympic Council56; in 1984, former Olympic sprinter, Wendy Ey (nee Hayes) became the first woman to serve as Australian track and field manager of both male and female teams. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics did create some opportunities for women in sport administration but clearly there is still much work to be done to consider the real impact of the Games on both participation rates and opportunities for leadership in sport's clubs and state and national sports governing bodies. From interviews undertaken by the author with Olympic athletes, both male and female, there are comments that women did take a more active role in sports administration - there has been the move towards amalgamation of separate men and women's sports associations to 'umbrella' organisations embracing both sexes at the national, state, regional and local level - clearly, the reactions of the women has been that the men 'smothered' them and become most aggressive in the embrace. The 1956 Olympic Games experience for women has shown that there is an inner sanctum from which sport administrators get the top job57 - but of course, that will all change after the experiences of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, won't it! Notes 1

Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, No 43, 1957, Canberra, Australian Government Printer, 1957, pp.159-165.



3 4

5 6

7 8 9 10

11 12 13

14 15 16 17 18 19 20

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The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by the archivists, curators and librarians at the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum, Melbourne, and at the International Studies Centre, IOC Olympic Museum, Lausanne. Some sections of this article were used for a presentation at the International Association for Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW) and the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport Symposium, 'Gender, Culture and Politics: 100 Years of Women at the Olympics' at the 2000 Pre-Olympic Congress - the International Congress on Sport Science, Sports Medicine and Physical Education, Brisbane, Australia, September 2000. Sections of that presentation will be published in a book edited by Margaret Talbot and produced through IAPESGW in 2001. Rosalie Stephenson, Women in Australian Society, Melbourne, Heineman Education Australia, 1970, p.28. For further information about Australian women in the 1940s, see Rhonda Bushby and Ian Jobling, 'Decades of sport and the shape of Australian womanhood', Fit Tg Play: Women, Sport and Physical Recreation, Sydney, New South Wales Women's Advisory Council, 1985. Bushby and Jobling, p.84; Stephenson, p.69. Frank A Doczy, Australian Women: A Condensed Study Based on Comparative Analysis, published by the author, 1955, p.5. Doczy also contends that Australian women had become independent economically: 'she could spend her own earnings on current fashions, attend sports meetings and drink in hotel lounges'. However, he also pointed out that women were seldom found in any part of the newspaper other than in the social column and had a much worse case of the Australian inferiority complex than the males. It should be noted that the first female swimming relay team was not selected until the 1956 Olympic Games. The total number of events for females in track and field at the 1948 Olympics was 9, including the 4 x 100m relay. Walter Borgers, Olympic Torch Relays, 1936-1994, Kaseell, AGON-Sportverlag, 1996, p.73. Age, Melbourne, December 3, 1956, p.1. However, it is interesting to note that the bulk of this 'page one' report extolled the bronze-medal winning efforts of John Landy in the 1500 metres bronze medal. Marion Stell, Half the Race: A History of Australian Women in Sport, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1991, p. 119. C. E. W. Bean, Sydney Morning Herald, December 1956, from Marion Stell, p. 121. Pirjo Haggman of Finland and Flor Isava-Fonseca of Venezuela became IOC members at the 84th IOC Congress at Baden-Baden in 1981. See Fernand Landry and Magdeline Yerles, The International Olympic Committee - One Hundred Years, vo/111, Lausanne, IOC, 1996, pp. 374-376. Organising Committee of the XVI Olympiad, Melbourne 1956, Official Report of Melbourne Olympics, Melbourne, Government Printer, 1958, pp. 18-20. Official Report of Melbourne Olympics, p. 194. Official Report of Melbourne Olympics, p. 25. XVIth Olympiad News Release, Olympic Newsletter, No.9, June 1956. XVIth Olympiad News Release, Olympic Newsletter, No.10, July 1956. XVIth Olympiad News Release, Olympic Newsletter, No. 16, October, 1956. XVIth Olympiad News Release, Olympic Newsletter, No.5, December, 1955.

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21 'Olympic Drivers Love Their Job', Age, December 1, 1956, p.1. The article comprised interviews with various 'chauffeurs' who highlighted their experiences. The language used within the report conveys the sense of significance of input to the Olympic effort by these women: 'Nearly 30 years experience lies behind the expert handling of the car driven by youthful looking Mrs E.G. Hinneberg.'; 'Although she has had her licence for only two years, vivacious Gael Sage .... has no worries about driving through Melbourne's Olympic crowds.' 22 'Hundreds of Names in Her Mind', Age, November 1, 1956. 23 'Women Playing a Part', Age, November 21,1956. Unfortunately, there was no elaboration on the following statement: 'A woman, Mrs Phyllis Murphy, was one of three on a panel that designed our revolutionary swimming pool.' 24 Herald, Melbourne Friday November 16,1956, in The Tipping Olympics, Prahran, Peter Isaacson Pty Ltd, 1972. 25 Herald, Melbourne, November 30,1956, in The Tipping Olympics. Tipping added that Betty Cuthbert was the first woman coached by a woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics. 26 It should be noted that Sir Frank Beaurepaire, regarded by many as the most significant administrator of the Melbourne Olympics and who died several months before the commencement of the Games, was supportive of women in the senior organisation. Sun, Melbourne, September, 1950 p.44. 27 The VWASA represented more than 20,000 women playing twelve sports in Victoria swimming, athletics, cycling, basketball, hockey, yachting, golf, bowls, cricket, softball, baseball and rowing. 28 Frank Bird, 'Olympic Decision Against Women's Sporting Bodies' Sun, Melbourne, May 27, 1950, p.44. 29 'Another Olympic Fight Brewing', Sun, June 2, 1950, p.27. 30 Lyons was also Federal President of the St Joan's Alliance, a constituent member of the National Council of Women. 31 Frank Bird, 'Dame Enid Lyons supports women's Olympic claims', Source not known, probably the Melbourne Sun.From Colin Bamott Collection, Box 2 Olympics, Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum. 32 Lyons added that 'she had been told that no other country in which the Games had been held had ever had a woman on the organising committee, and it was in this case, a great opportunity for Australia to lead the world in another phase of the country's life.' 33 Minutes of VOC Meeting, July 14, 1953, p.1. 34 Minutes of VOC Meeting, September 8, 1953. 35 The motion was moved by Edgar Tanner and J. Pollack. 36 Minutes of VOC Meeting, October 8, 1953. 37 'A Place in the Sun', Sun, no date - but probably early November. The item commenced: 'Local sportswoman have a toe in the door to Victorian Olympic Council meetings - but it looks like that's as far as they'll get'.Colin Bamott Collection, AGOS&OM. 38 Sun, no date. Amateur Sports Club officials said it was unfair to blame them for the barring of women from the Olympic meeting and that they were being made 'scapegoats by sporting polities'. Colin Barnott Collection, AGOS&OM. 39 Ken Moses, no, nd. Colin Barnott Collection, AGOS&OM. 40 Letter from Ruby Robinson to AWASF, November 22, 1953 - 'if the visiting women athletes are the consideration of Miss Taggart and Doris Carter then there is

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41 42 43


45 46 47


nothing to worry about. Colin Bamott Collection, AGOS&OM; interview by author with Ruby Robinson, March, 1997. 'To Help With Olympics', Age, November 10, 1953. Doris Carter files, Colin Barnott Collection, AGOS&OM. Queensland Olympic Council - Delegates' Report of the AOF Conference, November 6-7, 1953, p.2; Sun, November 9, 1953. Alderson's statement seems to have been the case; one example is included in the Minutes of the VOC (August 25, 1955, p. 1): 'Miss Sybil Taggart reported that twelve women's associations had offered to provide ushers to act as for the Olympic Games. Miss Doris Carter reported the holding of an Olympic Ball on the 15th November 1956'. Sybil Taggart, ABC Radio. The talk transcript is untitled but refers to women and the Melbourne Olympics. There is some confusion about the actual date of the broadcast. The typed sheet is dated 10 am June 30, 1956; however, it may be 1955 because there is reference within the text to the Olympic Games as being 'next year'. Colin Barnott Collection, AGOS&OM. Refer to endnote #49 for additional information. Minutes of the Queensland Olympic Council, November 8,1956, p.2. William T. J. Uren, Australian Olympic Team at Melbourne, Melbourne, nd, p.24. Notes taken from sources in Box 992-2667.30 Colin Barnott Collection, AGOS&OM, including an article by Kitty McEwen Melbourne Sun, November 10, 1953. William T. J. Uren, Australian Olympic Team at Melbourne, Melbourne, nd, pp. 1114 The following table has been compiled by Ian Jobling from notes taken while researching Box.992 - 2677.11, Bamott Collection, AGOS&OM. Some of the information was supplied originally by Uren in his capacity as Honorary General Manager.

Position Australian Olympic Federation Melbourne Organising Committee

Men 53 61

Women 0 2

Chefs de Mission (all teams) Australian Female Teams Officials: Swimming


0 1

Track and Field (Athletics)


Australian Female Olympic Officials Track and Field (Athletics)


Mrs Doris Carter & Miss Sybil Taggart

Mrs M. Ling (Chaperone) Ms Nell Gould (Chaperone) Mrs Doris Magee, Mrs M Robertson & Miss Lil Neville

Female athletes were accommodated in six houses (Nos 194-204 Southern Rd). Female staff included: Area Supervisor - Mrs Greavey; Deputy: Mrs Cherry , Miss Gillespie - housekeeper, plus housemaids. These women held very senior positions in track and field: Robinson and Neville were President and Honorary Secretary, respectively of the Victorian Women's Amateur Athletic Association, and Magee was both Hon Sec AWAU and the NSWAAA. Letter from Taggart, October 23, 1956, on VWA Council letterhead to

Jobling • Girls and Tea Ladies


Colonel Stoyles, found in Box 992.2669.36 Barnott Collection. The letter also stated that none of the three female officials 'have received an invitation to the Solemn opening ceremony on Monday 19 November. Mr Edgar Tanner promised look into the matter but has apparently forgotten; could something be done about

if. 49 Some examples include 'Overseas Visitor's Day at Government House', Age, November 17, 1956; 'Olympic Visitors', Age, November 27, 1956. 50 J J Walsh, Across the World for Sport: An Olympic Odyssey, Waterford, Munster Express Newspaper and Printing works, 1957, p.94. Walsh, while extolling the achievements of Australian women at the Olympic Games, eg Shirley Strickland and Marjorie Jackson in 1952, and Betty Cuthbertson (sic) and Marlene Mathews in 1956, also wrote in that chapter: 'In some lands, women are merely tolerated; in others there is a general feeling that they should not engage in this form of activity, which could possibly militate against the primary purpose for which they have been created. In proportion to its population, Australia produces more men and women athletes than any other country.' 51 Walsh, An Olympic Odyssey, p.149. 52 Walsh, An Olympic Odyssey, pp. 149-151. Walsh added: '...The 'march pasf continued until an orchestra struck up a lively tune. This was the signal for all sorts of "meet the folks" dances in true "get-together" style. ...In between the dances, the ladies regaled us with the romantic gossip of the Olympiad and revealed to us their ideals among the handsome athletes of 68 nations (at that hour, I should observe, safe in the bungalows at the Olympia (sic) Village, several miles away. The married men amongst us felt it refreshing to listen to these tales of "love's young dreams" in the delightful surroundings of the far-famed Kooyong Tennis Club. Then, as if to take us back suddenly to things more prosaic than the illusory pleasures of mundane love and laughter, there fell the first rain we had experienced in Melbourne since my arrival. It brought the al fresco diversion to a close.' 53 Age, December 10,1956. The 'girl' was described in this article in the social pages thus: 'She was the slim-dark-haired representative of the Argentine in the trim grey uniform of her team.' 54 Jim McKay, Why So Few? Women Executives in Australian Sport: Report to the National Sports Research Program, Canberra, Australian Sports Commission, 1992, p. 16. Additional information is contained in Jim McKay, Managing Gender Affirmative and Organisational Power in Australian, Canadian and new Zealand Sport, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1997. 55 See McKay, Appendix 3, p.43. McKay has provided some general background information about women in 'leadership' positions in society in the 1990s: Women in Australia comprise only 1.8% of directors, 2 1 % of non-executive directors, and 17% per cent of specialists and general managers in Australian companies. (McKay, p.4) Women managers and administrators in Australia earn on average about 25% less than their male counterparts. Women constitute 50% of the world's population perform nearly 66% of the world's work hours, comprised less than 10% of its politics and, receive about 10% of its income, and own less than 1% of its property. (McKay 1992, p.4). 56 Dennis Phillips, Australian Women at the Olympic Games, 1912-1992, Kenthurst, NSW, Kangaroo Press, 1992, p. 137; footnote 9.


Sporting Traditions • vol. 18 no. 1 • November 2001

57 McKay's 1992 study included another recorded interview which was probably well understood by many women in 1956: Angela: In one sense it is the best person for the job. The men here would have to say that or they'd be saying that they didn't deserve to be sitting in those chairs. But so many subtle hurdles get put in your way that as a woman, you never get a chance to get into that inner circle where they select the boys for the top job. So it's the best person for the job - but only those who've been admitted to the inner sanctum to begin with.