HerStory

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Mary Addison HAMILTON

Also known as: Addie

Born: 1893

Special Achievements: First woman in Western Australia admitted to an accounting professional body. Three years later, The Accountant (UK) acknowledged Miss Hamilton as the first woman in the empire admitted by examination to a recognised accounting body. First female appointed to a permanent position with the West Australian Public Service (The West Australian, March 28, 1968).

In 1908, Addie Hamilton successfully sat for the examinations achieving the highest result in the book keeping examinations in the state of Western Australia for which the Chamber of Commerce awarded Addie a gold medal. The West Australian (November 16, 1908, p.7) reported Miss Hamilton's success noting that this was "the first occasion on which a girl had won the medal." In December 1912, The Western Australian published the results of the WA Institute's examinations. The list of successful candidates included Miss M A Hamilton (December 18, 1912b ,p.9). Addie successfully completed the WA Institutes examinations over an ensuing three years and at the 1916, Annual Meeting the Council expressed its pleasure at welcoming "Miss Hamilton as a member of the Institute, she being the first lady to gain that distinction in the State" (Institute of Accountants and Auditors of Western Australia, 1916, p.6).

Additional Information: At the time of Addie's retirement, she was the second ranked officer in the Statistics section, which would indicate that her abilities were not in doubt but that the reclassification was purely gender based. In spite of a seemingly progressive attitude towards women and work, the West Australian public service demonstrated that gender was the dominant consideration for career advancement rather than qualifications or ability. Historical records from Western Australia indicate that while Addie was never engaged in paid employment as an accountant, her love of numbers and accounting skills were never in vain. Addie used her skills and knowledge to help others, devoting years of service to charities and not for profit organisations. Providing financial services including the role of Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Auditor for associations such as The Royal Life Saving Society, the Women's Service Guild from at least 1947 and in 1951/52, (Australian National Library reference MS1494). Addie was also a long time member and Honorary Auditor of the Catholic Women's League (CWL) of West Australia. Other organisations with which Addie was affiliated included the Australian Federation of Women's Societies that promoted "a world where men and women together carve out their mutual destinies and direct the life of society" (Australian National Library Reference MS2004, Mrs Bessie Rischbieth) and the St. Joan's Alliance (The West Australian, "Deaths", March 31, 1969, p40). Historical records also indicate that Addie taught law and book keeping as well as being responsible for the setting and marking of book keeping and law examination papers. Addie's employer for these activities is unclear, listed only as "at C. C." possibly the Chamber of Commerce.