Nutty Old Australian Government Memo: Don't Hire 'Spinsters'


Today in old-timey sexism (that wasn’t actually all that long ago), we present this jaw-dropping 1963 memo from Australia, in which a faceless bureaucrat named A.R. Taysom lays out his extremely cogent and well-argued reasons why women shouldn’t be allowed to serve as trade commissioners, sent to us by an eagle-eyed reader. Taysom lays out some timeless wisdom about ladies, beginning in the realm of the minor-league offensive before crescendoing to such a screechingly batshit finish that we had to double-check to make sure the memo wasn’t fake.

It’s not.

Taysom argues a number of points, namely:

Women are not employed, “except to an extremely minor degree.”

Women can’t “mix freely” with businessmen, as most men’s clubs didn’t allow women, Taysom writes, and even if they did, well, “relationships tend to be somewhat formal and guarded on both sides.” Unlike, we presume, a normal Australian business relationship at the time, which probably involved two businessmen getting into their matching business pajamas and snuggling up in a business bed with several enormous cans of Foster’s nestled between them.

Taysom also doubts women could stand the “fairly severe strains and stresses” of a trade commissioner’s life. What’s more, shouldn’t they be at home? As he put it:

A man normally has his household run efficiently by his wife, who also looks after much of the entertaining. A woman Trade Commissioner would have all this on top of her normal work.

Taysom’s real concern, though, emerges at the end of the memo. How might these potential business ladies, you know, age? Badly, he argues:

A spinster lady can, and very often does, turn into something of a battleaxe with passing years. A man usually mellows.

As a result of this persuasive line of reasoning, no female trade commissioners were ever appointed in Australia. No, sorry, wait, Freda Beryl Wilson was appointed later the same year to the Los Angeles office, where one of her coworkers remembered her decades later as “extremely competent and personable.”

Here’s the full, delightful memo.

Screengrab via AMC/Youtube

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin