Activity 3a: Pay and Gender Issues for Women Before 1970

From the 1920s to the 1950s, most occupations were perceived as being suitable and appropriate either for men or for women to perform. This was even reflected in the way jobs were targeted in advertisements. Women tended to be paid less than men, even if they were performing the same or a similar role.

In this activity, students will compare wages for men and women who performed similar occupations. Students analyse how at this time job advertisements specified gender. They then compare these advertisements with those of today. Students revise a job advertisement from the 1950s so that it makes no reference to gender.

Resources Required


e Resources


  • internet
  • space for students to walk around and interact 

Task 1

The class is divided into two equal-sized groups, A and B. Each student is allocated a job from the Handout: Australian Weekly Wages and Occupations from the 1930s with the job title and wage. Students are allocated five minutes to walk around and compare their job title and wage with those of other students. 

Teachers may need to clarify:

  • any occupations that students do not understand 
  • that /- is the symbol for shillings, which were used in Australia until 1966 when pounds, shillings and pence were replaced by dollars and cents. 

After the meet and greet activity, students discuss the differences between the jobs on the two lists and answer the following questions:

  • Who has a highly paid job?
  • What is it?
  • What list is it on?
  • Who has a low paid job?
  • What is it?
  • What list is it on?
  • What jobs are on both lists?
  • What do you notice about the wages of the jobs that are on both lists?
  • Which list has the higher paid jobs? 
  • What are some possible reasons why men and women were paid differently?

Explain that Group A jobs were typical men's jobs and Group B jobs were typical women's jobs about 60 years ago.

Ask whether students think it was fair that men were paid more than women even if they were doing the same jobs.

Task 2

Distribute copies of Handout: Jobs Vacant. Ask students to choose the job they would most like to apply for.

Ask the students who they think can apply for this position. 

Students examine the suggested websites and current newspapers to see if they refer to gender.

After an extensive campaign legislation was introduced in some states in the 1970s and at a federal level in 1984 for employers not to show any intention to discriminate on the basis of gender (or race, age etc) in their job vacancy advertisements.

Students revise a job advertisement in the Handout: Jobs Vacant so that it makes no reference to gender.

Activity 3a | Activity 3b | Activity 3c | Activity 3d

People Power Introduction |  3. Equal Pay for Women 

Overview of Activities:  Focus Question 3 | Teacher Information