Saturday 4 February 2023

Jobs by Bribie women

The following article from 1967, gives a glimpse of jobs taken on by Bribie Island women, their partners and their families over 50 years ago.

Island of no discrimination : Women in Men's jobs. 

Courier Mail, circa 1967.

Bribie Island "for sun, surf and fishing, the ideal family holiday centre," say the glossy brochures. The ideal place for doing as you please, say the Bribie women.

And what pleases the Bribie women is work "you'd never get away with in the city" - of the kind usually done by men!

Here, where development pace is fast - but not so fast-paced the island's pleasant back-woodsy atmosphere is threatened, and the loudest noise is the screech of parrots - the words "female discrimination" are practically unknown.

The island women wield as much power - if not quite as many hammers - in the local work force as the men, whether by helping tradesmen husbands, or in jobs they have competed for against them.

And in this event, competence, and not sex, is the deciding factor.

With one or two exceptions. There is some discrimination. One or two employers confessed to frankly preferring women.

Meet some of the male-job holding women. There are more, of course, the motel manager, the builder's wife who delivers timber to work sties, the plumber's wife who works out job prices and requirements, the hardware store co-owner (with her husband) who can measure timber quantities, within inches, by eye ... far too many to introduce.

But who says they are male-jobs? Not the Bribie women. Without exception the island's working women fraternity agree any job is for anybody who can do it.

Unless it is too muscle building. To a woman, they wouldn't have that on!

From sign-writing to mail delivering is a big switch, "but you get to meet and talk to more people," and so the switch was a welcome one for Bribie's "Postie," Mrs Val Mole. Her mail run takes her out six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and important to her, it takes her to see the 600 residents of the Bongaree township she serves. "A great way to keep up with the news!" she professes. But the real attraction is two-fold: "I enjoy people, first, and secondly, it would drive me up the wall to be at home all day."

10 a.m. and it's opening time for Bribie's Blue Pacific Hotel licensee, Mrs Jean Piva. An unusual job for a woman? "Not at all, it's an ideal job!" Mrs Piva reasons decent men "... and that means most ..." respect a woman. Her husband, "Bluey" co-manager with her, goes along with "... woman's influence is a quietening one" theory. Hotels can be trouble spots, but where a woman is at the helm, trouble is rare, they say. Mrs Piva was a nurse before her marriage. When she first became a hotel licensee, she was the youngest in the State. "There's no end to things women can do if they want," she says.

"Here's the pieman!" yell the children, as Mrs Evelyn Young and her pie-cart come to a lunch-time halt by the school Their sex identification may not rate top marks, but they're right about occupation. Mrs Young's husband, Angus, is a "pieman", too. They begin their working day together at 6 a.m., when they start the day's baking, and end it around 7.30 p.m. when the last round ... which they share ... is over. A long day, and at six days a week, a long week, "... but worth every minute."

Young George Dixon, at 15 months, is almost as knowledgeable about the butcher's run, as his mother, Mrs Lois Dixon. He's been doing it with her since he was old enough to travel. Mrs Dixon helps her butcher-husband, Sandy, in their shop for two hours a day, then does the delivery run. Meantime, Mary-Anne, their two-and-a-half-year-old, stays with dad. Mrs Dixon was a shop assistant before her marriage, and "I like seeing people every day, keep up with the local news, and I'm out and about, which I like."

Mrs Margaret Jensen is the island's holiday time midnight-to-dawn girl. For the rest of the year, she works a "soft" day shift, of three hours. She and her husband are proprietors of a milk delivery service, sharing working hours - and care of their two children, aged three and five - between them. It's "the healthy outdoor life" which appeals to Mrs Jensen, plus the fact she and her husband are working for themselves. Her job as a ledger machinist before her marriage wasn't as heavy - those milk crates weigh 59lb. - "... but it wasn't as much fun either!"


article: Island of no discrimination : Women in Men's jobs.
Courier Mail, circa 1967. [From the Brook family collection clippings.]