A Woman’s Voice: the parliamentary careers of Joyce Steele and Jessie Cooper

Monday 21 August 2017

A Woman’s Voice: the parliamentary careers of Joyce Steele and Jessie Cooper

Presented by Jenny Stock

Endorsed for safe Liberal seats, and duly elected in March 1959, these Liberal women MPs had not only to represent their party (and class), but inevitably also their gender. Their novelty value as lone members of ‘the fair sex’ both protected and restrained them in the early years while Playford still reigned. From 1965, they were hit not only by the advent of unfamiliar Labor Governments and the slow disintegration of the old LCL, but the challenges of the second wave of feminism. Jessie survived 20 years in a Legislative Council which was being transformed, while Joyce was elevated to a Cabinet role by Steele Hall and came briefly to exercise real power. Both retired under less than ideal circumstances, but could feel some satisfaction at their achievements.  

Jenny taught Australian politics for many years at Adelaide University and in retirement has specialized in political biography. Her interest in tonight’s topic was sparked by her work for the Australian Dictionary of Biography on these two women. Having discovered far more than required for the modest wordage allowed in the Dictionary, she now wishes to pass on some of that additional information. Her talk this year follows on from her well-received address to the Society on 15 February 2016 Two Burnside Ladies: how SA got its first Female MPs.

Record of Meeting

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No.*BTdDateTopic, Speaker, Detail
40421/8/2017

A Woman’s Voice: the parliamentary careers of Joyce Steele and Jessie Cooper

Presented by Jenny Stock

Endorsed for safe Liberal seats, and duly elected in March 1959, these Liberal women MPs had not only to represent…

Legend

B: Burnside topic

T: tape

d: disc

*: on location

Disc and Tape recordings available in the Local History Room

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