Female trade commissioners

Page one of a Department of Trade minute listing the reasons women should not be hired to be trade commissioners.
Page one of a Department of Trade minute listing the reasons women should not be hired to be trade commissioners. (NAA: A3120, 106/1/6)

Things were different in the 1960s ... Today it’s hard to imagine this departmental minute actually being written, let alone seeing the light of day.

Dated 13 March 1963, this note from an officer of the Trade Commissioner Service to his director outlines nine reasons why women should not be appointed trade commissioners.

Possible drawbacks included:

  • not being able to mix freely with businessmen
  • the possibility of turning into a ‘battleaxe’
  • having to run a household as well as holding down a job
  • taking the place of a man

Note the subjective style and tone of the minute. ‘Such an appointee would not stay young and attractive for ever and later on could well become a problem’, writes the director … and ‘it is much easier to find difficulties’.

Not the sort of phrasing you’d expect to see in a 2005 performance management policy!

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017