As a passionate social justice advocate and feminist, can you indulge me for a few minutes, as I take you on a whimsical journey back in time to the 1970’s in Australia and the recruitment strategies of large companies when seeking suitable ‘Executive Men’. Because as we all know there could not possibly have been any ‘suitable women that would be eligible to fill such a position’. Back then the little woman was relegated to keeping a well maintained house, be a nurturing mother, entertainer and the consummate ‘good wife’ in and outside of the bedroom. If she did not come from a high born well educated background then she was expected to improve herself, to rise above her station, to demonstrate a certain level of etiquette and finesse, to know her place and to be suitably knowledgeable about worldly affairs but not necessarily have any specific opinions.

This video titled Finishing school for executives’ wives was recorded in 1971. It first had me in stitches when I watched it and then later made me quite annoyed at the gender stereotyping of women that was an expected part of the successful career path of an up and coming aspiring Executive Man. It also highlighted some of the attributes that women believed they needed to accomplish by attending a beauty school to ‘improve themselves’. Click on below link:

Finishing school for executives’ wives (1971)

Check out the before and after photos in the video. Do you see a slight resemblance of the fashion styles in dresses, hairstyles, false eye lashes and framed glasses making a comeback in 2018? Do you recognise the emergence of the women’s magazines back then (and now) that focussed on fashion, perfume, make-up, recipes and where to be seen and with whom? Oh, what bliss to have been born in this generation when men treated ladies like Queens and kept them well outfitted and housed without a care in the world. It was also the beginning of the emergence of some seriously interesting female journalism and if you watch the face of Carolyn Jones (ABC Journalist) during the interview and her questions as well as the answers, ask yourself:

  1. Has anything really changed?
  2. Do women still feel as though this is what they are expected to behave like?
  3. Was attending a Beauty School the only way that these women could gain self confidence and to become socially acceptable and what a bargain at just $60?
  4. Do you see the challenges that the feminist movement faced as they rallied to gain independence, higher education, gender equality and financial security?
  5. Do you understand that we still have a long way to go to Step Up and take the Lead instead of being led?
  6. With more Executive Women on Boards, as CEO’s and in our Parliaments, do you think that their Partner would be subjected to the same suitability screening requirements?
  7. Can you see the intrinsic benefits of the Springboard Women’s Development Program to give women other tips, tools and techniques to believe in themselves and to determine their own careers and destiny and to redefine social norms of what is and what is not acceptable to them?

I decided that I needed to conclude this article with another video that might bring some light hearted relief for those that enjoy delivering training sessions for women. Nobody quite Keeps Up Appearances as our much loved Hyacinth Bucket. With all her grooming and etiquette how did poor Richard not become the CEO of the Company? Was she too much like the futuristic Devil Wears Prada character? What management style would she have implemented if she had of decided to become a Senior Executive Officer? On a serious note, Dame Patricia Routledge is a remarkable actress who really wanted to teach English and I think that she exceeded her own expectations during her career on stage and on television. Now in her 80’s she shares some of the highlights of her life and there is just enough snippets from the Keeping Up Appearances series to keep you suitably amused regarding the life of an Executive Wife. Click on below link:

Dame Patricia Routledge | Studio 10

An Inspirational Quote of Note:

“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead”.  Beyonce


Chris Knight

Director Inspirational Connections

Freelance Springboard Trainer – Australia

Member Soroptimist International

Corporate Member Womens Network Australia WNA

Tel: (617) 0403177012


The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

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