Published March 1990 in Women & Work, Vol. 12, no. 1.
In 1990, the year this cartoon was published, women were justified in believing that they had made huge gains in the struggle for gender equity. It was nearly 20 years since the right to equal pay was enshrined in law, and the marriage bar was a distant memory. Women were starting to achieve positions of real power, with Carmen Lawrence becoming premier of Western Australia, and Joan Kirner, premier of Victoria. But as Gaynor Cardew foreshadows in this cartoon - and as many of the cartoons in this exhibition reinforce - the fight was far from over.
Margaret Scott (1825–1919) is believed to have produced Australia’s first cartoon by a woman and May Gibbs (1877–1969) was the first woman to have drawn political cartoons, producing work for suffragist publications from as early as 1909. Between the First and Second world wars, there was a boom in the number of women publishing cartoons, but this was followed by a steep decline. Gaynor Cardew was part of a new phase of women regaining prominence in what is still a field largely dominated by men.
Cardew, who cartooned under the name ‘Gaynor’, was based in Canberra and occasionally published her work in The Canberra Times as well as various feminist, human rights and government department publications. This cartoon is presented as part of an ongoing Behind the Lines series, showing historical works from MoAD’s cartoon collection and private archives.