Married women allowed to work in the Commonwealth Public Service

The bar on employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service was abolished in 1966. This restriction meant that married women could only be employed as temporary staff, restricting their promotion opportunities (only permanent staff could be in a supervisory position). Being a temporary employee also restricted the ability of married women to accumulate superannuation and meant that they were the first to be targeted for redundancies when significant downsizing of the Australian Public Service (APS) occurred in the early 1950s.

The removal of the bar was first recommended by the Boyer Committee in 1958, although it took another eight years before these ideas came to fruition. The lifting of the bar marked not only the trigger for greater numbers of women working in the APS but also the evolution of the integration of women’s issues into public policy.

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