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Another Wonderful Surprise

Yesterday, I received another unexpected email; this time from the grandson of Edna Roughley Beales. If you read last week’s blogpost, you’ll remember that I concluded the post with the hope that someone would recognise Edna in the photo of the 1962 Asian Church Women’s Conference. Little did I know that a week later, I would be telling you Edna has been identified by a family member, her grandson.

Edna Roughley Beales

Edna is in the front row of the 1962 photo, 4th from the right—thank you Darren.

Australia was well-represented by this accomplished Christian woman, and I first mentioned Edna on the blog on 27 December 2019.


It’s not a coincidence that this week I came across an interesting news item in the archives of Australian Church Women that highlights the careers and personal accomplishments of women in 1972. Titled ‘What in the World are Women Doing!!’ it demonstrates a quantum leap for women’s job prospects nearly fifty years ago, but today, in 2020, they are readily-accepted goals for women with the required skills and qualifications.

‘THE ADMIRAL IS A LADY—The United States Navy has named its first woman admiral, breaking a 200 Year-old tradition banning women from star ranks. She Is Alene Bertha Duerk, 52, director of the Navy Nurse Corps. Only one male bastion remains in the U.S. Armed Forces—the Marine Corps!

‘SO TOO IS THE COMMANDER!—Commander GRACE MURRAY HOPPER, a main speaker at the national computer conference being held at Queensland University, is the Head of the Navy Programming Languages Section In the Pentagon, Washington, and a pioneer of modem computer programmlng languages. "I can see computers being of great benefit in hospital work, measuring heart-beat, pulse and temperature continuously in intensive care units In much the same way as the men on the moon had their electrocardiograms continuously recorded", she said. She has been awarded the Wilbur Lucius Cross for 1972 of the Yale School Association—a medal awarded annually for outstanding achievement.

‘A FIRST FOR WOMEN in general, and Girl Guides In particular—the former Chief Commissioner of the Union of Finnish Girl Guides, MRS HELVI SIPILA has been chosen by the United Nations Secretary-General (Dr. Kurt Waldhein) as his Under Secretary-General—the first time the post has been held by a woman.’

These events took place in my last year of high school, but I cannot remember hearing about them then. I don’t think they would have surprised me either, as I never thought there were too many things that a woman wasn’t able to do. It wasn’t until the next year at university that it came home to me that there really were careers that women weren’t expected to enter. I had enrolled to study architecture, and I was shocked to find only three females, including myself, in the first year of about eighty students. Seventeen years later, I returned to the school of architecture for further study and almost a quarter of the students were young women. I do remember being surprised at how the situation had changed. And in 2017, the female representation of students studying architecture was about 40%.

The current and past members of Australian Church Women have and had very interesting and significant careers, which never ceases to surprise me as they are such humble women and rarely refer to their past employment or achievements. Careers such as scientists, social workers, accountants, pharmacists, musicians, nurses, doctors, ministers, priests and pastors, air hostess, first female Federal Commissioner of the Girls’ Brigade, missionaries, draftswoman, church workers, bank employees, tertiary educators, public servants, health workers, secretaries, working for the International Monetary Fund, bookkeepers, authors, TV personality, editors, stenographers, researchers, housekeepers, business owners, retail and hospitality employees, managers, member of a team constructing aeroplanes, dental nurses, governess, farmer, dressmakers, theologians, child care, librarian, nanny, and early childhood, primary, secondary and business school teachers, including first female principal of a secondary school, and the list goes on and on.

Many members have had more than two careers as they were also mothers, foster parents, and voluntary workers for various organisations. Scores of them have been recipients of awards and other forms of recognition for their service to Australia and the communities in which they live(d) and worship(ped). I am very proud of the members of Australian Church Women and feel very privileged to be a member of this great Christian women’s organisation.


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This Herstory Blog of Australian Church Women Inc. tells the stories of the women and activities of this national Christian organisation that was founded in February 1965.

Stories that inspired and encouraged me to begin this blog and share their inspiration with you. Stories that need to be told so that the women of ACW can be honoured and celebrated for their achievements and experiences in local, national and international communities of faith. And, most importantly, stories that demonstrate being disciples of Jesus Christ firmly underpins all that Australian Church Women represents.

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