Baby boomers stood up to sexism and now they fight against ageism 243



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When I got married one of my aunts gave me this 1950s housewife guide as a joke to how to prepare for my new role. You may have seen it before:




  1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
  2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
  4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
  5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
  6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
  7. Be happy to see him.
  8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
  9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
  10. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.
  11. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
  12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
  13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
  14. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
  15. A good wife always knows her place.


In the 1960s there was no shortage of stereotypes, here are some advertisements :

Vintage-Sexist-Ads (Images via bradruggles, oddee, oddee, bmpr)


It is funny to look at these now and have a giggle as examples of sexism but at the time they were a serious issue and caused a lot of frustration for women.

The baby boomers thankfully, were the generation that fought hard against these types of sexist ads and stereotypes. They were the pioneers that paved the way for equality today with the women’s liberation movement.

This movement revolutionised the way women were perceived and treated. They empowered women by encouraging them to pursue higher education, careers and opposed sexist role stereotypes of the time

As a women today I feel very thankful to the baby boomer generation and those who fought in this movement. They have enabled me to have all the opportunities I have today, to not have to put up with endless ridiculous sexist stereotypes and not feel boxed in by a “women’s place is in the home” doctrine.

But I find it difficult to accept that this generation of fighters is now battling a society fraught with ageism.

I feel saddened that many over 60s in my family and their friends want to work but have been pushed out of the workforce too soon. Or for circumstances beyond their control have lost their jobs and because of their age are seen to be invisible by prospective employers.

I breaks my heart when I hear of my uncle who is applying for job after job from pizza driver, to service station attendant to shop assistant and doesn’t even get a call back. And this is only just one of many stories that I hear.

It is a little ironic that the baby boomers who fought so hard for the rights for women to have equal opportunities in the workforce are now facing against age stereotypes of a similar nature.

Statistics released last month from the Government show that there are 140,000 unemployed Australians aged between 50 and 64 are receiving the Newstart allowance from Centrelink.

It further reports that we loose $10 billion a year by having people unemployed who could be employed if it were not for age discrimination.

I see this as a national disgrace for Australia and something needs to be done.

Perhaps with some inspiration from the women’s liberation movement, we need an older workers liberation movement. Older workers should have the chance to gain meaningful employment in whatever field they choose, they should be properly represented in workplaces, and in the media and most of all not be ignored or discriminated against.


I am keen to hear from you… Have you experienced ageism in the workplace or perhaps you fought against sexism back in the 60s and 70s? 


Kate Chaundy

Kate Chaundy is a writer on the Starts at Sixty Editorial Team. "I spend my time seeking out, researching and writing on the topics our over 60 community ask about". Kate has more than 13 years in marketing and communications and a lifetime of experience as the daughter of baby boomers.

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