Women with altitude : resisting the role of the Australian ‘Chaperone’ in Mexico 1968 / Marion Stell

Stell, Marion K

After 56 years of Olympic competition for Australian women, the 1968 team still contained significantly more male officials than it did women competitors. But behind the scenes on the state Olympic councils, the sole woman, athletics administrator Doris Magee, had been lobbying hard for the removal of the outmoded title ‘chaperone’ of the women competitors. The Australian Olympic Federation created the new position of ‘assistant managers, women’ opening the way for the appointment of the first women professional managers in charge of the women’s team – triple Olympian athlete Shirley Strickland and national hockey president Ruby Robinson. Never again would their role be defined as ‘tucking a girl into bed and having a look to see she is there’. While the title changed in 1968, for good, an expanded Olympic role did not necessarily open up for either Shirley Strickland or Ruby Robinson. While the women of 1968 were trail blazers in their mission to professionalize the women’s team administration at the Olympics, they were part of a continuum of women who slowly chipped away at male and societal attitudes and boundaries, of the place of women in sport.

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