Australian broadcasting's female 'pilgrims' : women and work in the post-war ABC

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This thesis examines the careers of women who attained positions of authority in the privileged environment of Australian public broadcasting between the 1940s and 1970s, and reimagines the nature of women’s work at the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). It counteracts the widespread assumption that women were largely absent in post-war broadcasting, and reveals how and why a group of women, each with their own issues and ideologies to contribute to national debates, used the ABC as a vehicle for their activism. Framed primarily through group biography, this history details how certain ABC women manifested their own agency within the limitations of the time and place, in both the messages they produced as radio and television producers, and through their positions within the gendered post-war workplace. It details the industrial strategies that female broadcasters activated in order to succeed – their transmedial methods, transformative departures, transnational exchanges and technical training – and the key industrial alliances they utilised to traverse previously inaccessible avenues of opportunity. Taking an intersectional approach, this thesis also juxtaposes the careers of elite female producers against the majority of women workers at the ABC, contextualising the barriers, both official and unofficial, that prevented most women from sharing the same authority, opportunity and privilege that their male counterparts experienced. Challenging the male-centric narratives that dominate broadcasting historiography, this thesis examines the systems of exclusion and discrimination in the ABC workplace and highlights the nature of women’s work in public broadcasting; it enriches the historical landscape of women’s experiences and contributions within Australian broadcasting.
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