'Glorified typists' in no-man's land: the ABC script assistants' strike of 1973

Jeannine Baker*, Jane Connors

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses a strike by women television script assistants at the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1973, in the context of the sexual division of labour in broadcasting, and industrial relations legislation and practices. It draws on archival documents and oral history interviews to uncover the agency, emotions and mobilisation of a group of female white-collar workers who have not been previously portrayed as politically active, and argues that the women’s anger and their organisational strategies challenged gendered structures and processes within the ABC and its staff union. By examining the link between gender and occupational status, it demonstrates that script assistants experienced considerable barriers to upward mobility and were denied access to equal pay because they were working in a feminised occupation. While the script assistants’ militancy succeeded in briefly arresting sexist attitudes and practices within ABC television, structural discrimination throughout the organisation proved resistant to change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-859
Number of pages19
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number5
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Broadcasting
  • Industrial relations
  • Labour History
  • Emotions
  • Unions
  • Australian Broadcasting Commission


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