Careers for girls leaving school, circa 1981

In the process of researching my blog posts, I’ve spent a lot of time trawling through Google News’ digitised copies of Melbourne’s The Age newspaper for titbits related to Australian industry or aviation. However my most recent find was something rather different – a pair of related advertisements that illustrated the world that girls faced on graduating high school in the early 1980s.

Today seeing women working as mechanics, electricians or carpenters isn’t unheard off, but back then it probably was – hence why in 1981 Box Hill TAFE College state that over 500 female apprentices were already working in ‘traditionally male’ jobs, and invite girls to a free seminar to learn about their options in one of over 100 different trades.

'Times have changed: these girls are all apprentices in trades which were once considered strictly for males'

Meanwhile a few pages along in the same newspaper, things start to head into 1960s Mad Men territory, with this advert aimed at parents of secondary school girls by Stotts Secretarial College. What runs the office of today? Telex, dictating machines, print-out calculators, telephone switchboards and electric typewriters? Act now and get your daughter on her way, because no matter what the state of the economy, well trained office staff are always in demand!

Parents of secondary school girls - consider Stotts Secretarial College!

Today the above pieces of office equipment are obsolete and so are job titles like as secretary and typist, but Stott’s Colleges are still running training courses, in what is now a Certificate III in Business Administration.

As for gender roles in today’s workforce: I’ve seen a number of women up the front of my morning train to work, but I’m yet to find a bloke working as a receptionist. I wonder how the workplace will look in another 30 years time?

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9 Responses to “Careers for girls leaving school, circa 1981”

  1. Michael Greenhill says:

    Interesting to see that the telephone exchanges were still rather compartmentalised in 1981 – “Melbourne 62 1781” and “Dandenong 791 5255”

    • Marcus says:

      Good pickup – I’m assuming the early 1980s was right in the middle of the roll out of 7 digit phone numbers across Melbourne – however it seems strange that Dandenong beat Melbourne to receiving the 7th digit. (the current 8 digits didn’t appear until 1995)

      • A says:

        I’ve seen ads as old as 1973 with 7 digits but I know Footscray was still 6 digits into 1987/88 (in fact, there’s still a few 6-digit signs there today)…it seems to have been a very protracted rollout.

  2. Andrew says:

    I recently heard on the radio a father telling his daughter, she will never be out of a job if she learnt Pitman (shorthand). I remember asking someone in the eighties, what is a word processor? Back then it was job, then it became a machine.

  3. Andrew S says:

    As a local resident I can the former Dandenong Stotts in Robinson Street was a small two level building – still there but has long since found another use!

  4. Tania says:

    So glad I finally made the effort to google Stott’s College and found this article which is spot on. I did the 1 year secretarial course at Stott’s College in Melbourne during the early/mid 80s and haven’t done any official certificate type studies since but have always been employed. I’ve often wondered about the comparison/equivalent to courses today and can now proudly say that I’ve completed a Cert III in Business Admin (woo hoo)

  5. Deanna Stephens says:

    In the 1980’s I was a student and graduate of Stotts in Flinders Strert, Melbourne, does anyone else still remember their shorthand brief forms???

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