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CCH Seminar – 24th July – Emma Robertson

Join us online or in person for a seminar with Associate Professor Emma Robertson.

‘A woman’s place is on the back”: Gendered Transport Traditions and Women Bus Drivers in Australia and the UK, c.1960-1990.
Jill (Rosamund) Viner in the cab of a London bus, 1970

In 1970, the employment of Sandra Holt as a bus driver in the northern English town of Halifax caused a lightning strike by the local busmen and brought the town to a standstill. Sandra was forced back on conducting duties until the union dispute could be resolved; she was driving again in September 1970. In London, with angry resistance from the bus section of the Transport and General Workers Union, it took another four years before Jill Viner became the city’s first woman driver on the public buses. Australian buswomen faced similar struggles. Following sustained pressure from women conductors in Sydney, Mrs June Lusk was celebrated as the city’s first woman driver on the public buses in November 1970; Melbourne women had to wait another 5 years before their local union relented.

This paper will explore the masculine constructions of workplace identities, spaces and cultures on urban, public-funded buses which were mobilised to exclude women drivers in both the UK and Australia. It will examine women’s own agency in breaking down the masculine traditions of bus driving in the postwar years, especially from their position as bus conductors and union members. However, the paper will also reflect on the barriers women bus workers continued (and continue) to face in a male-dominated sector.

11am, 24th July 2024

Burwood: C2.05.01
Waurn Ponds: IC2.108
Zoom: Click here

Emma Robertson is Associate Professor in History at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University, and Head of Department for Archaeology and History. She is the author of Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History (Manchester, 2009), co-author of Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain (Cambridge, 2013) and co-author of The BBC World Service: Overseas Broadcasting, 1932-2018 (Palgrave, 2019). Emma’s most recent research, in collaboration with Professor Diane Kirkby and Dr Lee-Ann Monk, has concentrated on histories of women workers in the public transport industries in the UK and Australia (funded by the Australian Research Council DP160102764).