Throughout the post WW2 period (1945 onwards), the New Zealand Public Service relied on the work of women employed in the typing pool and associated administrative activities.

For most of this period, these women worked largely in collective groups or “pools” located in each State department.  In addition, many were engaged or promoted from the typing pool, from time to time, as the secretaries and personal assistants to senior managers in those agencies.

Although rarely acknowledged, without their work the Public Service and executive Ministers to whom the Service was accountable could not have operated.

Using various modes of document production such as shorthand-based typing, typing from handwritten notes, dictaphone typing and word processing, as well as event managing and providing a range of support services for the managers, the women from the typing pool were indispensable to the operation of the Public Service – and, indeed the wider public.

Virtually no other public servants were trained in or competent to undertake the widely varied task carried out by these comparatively low paid women.

Why is this important?

It’s 2017 and gender pay inequity still exists, and still the lack of status accorded to much of women’s work means major issues for our societal wellbeing. 

Recording and publishing this oral history will enable the voices and experiences of women from the Public Service Typing Pools since 1945, to join the dots for today’s audiences when asking ourselves ‘How did we get here?

The unheard voices of women’s experiences of the inequity and sexism through the ages, interrupted and disrupted education, the power of the class and religious bias, so often unspoken and therefore unchallenged. Let us change that.

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The Keystrokes Per Minute Research Team

Dr Judith Aitken

Judith has extensive experience in New Zealand and elsewhere in education (NZ and Australia), business, farming, consultancy and governance areas, through her work in secondary schools and university lecturing, in the State Services Commission and as CEO of Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Education Review Office. 

She was an elected board member of Wellington Regional Council and Capital and Coast DHB for
15 years and has experience in broadcasting, TV, newspaper editing, community work, as well as publishing a number of books.

Eth Lloyd, M.Ed., P.G.Dip.Ed, NDBA
(Research Partner)

Eth’s Master’s in Education (2010) thesis studied the administrative profession in New Zealand, their professional development opportunities and career pathways. 

Through her business, Enderby Associates, Eth has worked with administrative professionals in New Zealand, in government and the private sector, to support their gaining national qualifications in the workplace. 

Drawing on her 30 years’ experience working as a personal assistant in New Zealand and overseas and her involvement with the Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand Inc, of which Eth was their National President from 2002 – 2004.

In 2018 Eth was Chairman of the Advisory Council for the World Administrators Summit held in Frankfurt, Germany.

Maureen Goodwin

Raised in Lower Hutt, and after completing Commercial Studies at college, Maureen began work in the mid 60s, as a junior shorthand typist. 

Initially working in the insurance industry, then Tourist Hotel Corporation, ACC and the Trade Union movement. Maureen then worked with the Department of Social Welfare (now Ministry of Social Development) for the last 25 years of her 51 years in the ‘trade’. 

Alongside raising two sons with her late husband, Maureen served on numerous community committees, a highlight was managing the Wellington CanSurvive Dragonboat team, where her secretarial skills were put to very good use! 

In the 90s Maureen attained a Diploma of Industrial Relations, an area that still remains of great interest to her. Retirement means there is now more time for grandchildren, friends, travel, gardening and being a part of the Keystrokes project team.

Rose Melvin

Rose has had a 50 year career in Administration and Accounts, which included time as a shorthand typist in the NZ Post Typing Pool (1964-66). The later part of her working life concentrated on accounts technician roles within the NGO and not-for-profit sector. 

Rose has also held Board Member roles for organisations such as Lower Hutt Women’s Centre and Rape Crisis Wellington. Her passion for social justice and the value of womens’ work goes back to the first wave of the feminist movement in the 1970s. 

Rose attained a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies and The Jackie Mathews Prize in Women’s Studies, from Victoria University of Wellington, in 2009, and is now semi-retired. 

Rachel Brown

Rachel is a researcher both of family history and history. 

Recent projects include work for Dame Margaret Sparrow and with starting individuals with their family history research. 

She has also worked for five years at the Ministry for Women’s Affairs in public affairs.