8 Julia MacRae remembers being the first female board member of Hamish Hamilton
Can you remember the salary that you were offered on starting?
Only that it wasn’t very much! Much lower than a male equivalent would have had. I seem to remember that. It was ever thus, wasn’t it – and it still is.
Could you have tried to negotiate your salary up?
I did, yes, I did. And also when I was put on the board all the male equivalents had cars and I didn’t. So I went to Jamie [Hamish Hamilton] and said ‘Where’s my car?’ And he was so taken aback, that I got one. And it wasn’t that he was being superior, it just didn’t occur to him.
There was a sales conference in Scotland and we went up overnight and the men had sleeping berths, single ones, and I was asked to share, and I said, ‘No. I either get a single berth or I don’t go.’ In a sense it was being a feminist but that didn’t exist then.
It just seemed to me that there was no reason why I shouldn’t have the same privileges. It was just that they weren’t used to women in that kind of situation.
This is the important element I think, that must apply also to various other Australians who’ve come here: we have no idea of the class system so we say what we think.