“The Women’s Club in Sydney is the outward and visible sign of the progress of women in our country.” Sydney Stock and Station Journal 13 October 1908 p.8
In the late nineteenth century, despite the ‘separate sexual spheres’ philosophy, women were venturing into the public realm with the formation of associations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance League (1887), the Women’s Literary Society (1889) and the Womanhood Suffrage League (1891) and in 1892, the Women’s College at the University of Sydney was established. On 9 October 1901 a meeting of more than 100 women at The Women’s College founded The Women’s Club ‘to fill some of the needs of intellectual and academic women by offering mental and artistic enjoyment’.
The first President of The Women’s Club was Lady Beaumont. Vice-Presidents were Rose Scott, Mrs David Edgeworth, Mrs John See and Lady Lyne. The first Secretary was Miss E L Sutherland with Edith Fry, Treasurer. Committee members were Dr Mary Booth, Miss Dickson and Miss Harker. The Club immediately established Circles to fulfil its aim.
Modelled on Rose Scott’s salons, Circles provided opportunities for women’s education in social, political and aesthetic matters. The Tuesday Circle developed members’ debating skills through discussion of topics such as ‘patriotism’ while the Music and Drama Circles presented recitals by musicians and play readings by directors such as Doris Fitton.
Circles remain the Club’s lifeblood. Political Science, Arts and Media, Justice and Democracy, Art, Architecture and Photography, Women’s History as well as drama, literary, craft, music, film, writing and bridge circles provide a diverse range of activities for members and their guests. The Club continues to host luncheons and dinners with guest speakers prominent in various fields who offer insights into issues affecting women in the past and present.
Dynamic women – inspired by our past, shaping our future.