Life and times memoirs are often lives leavened with some tangential nods to times. In Iola Mathews’s book Winning for Women: A personal story, a notable career is inextricably linked with the remarkable times she did much to shape.
It is the story of a feminist, the Australian feminist movement, and the battle for transformational political, legal, workplace, and community changes driven by her and many other committed women. The book combines detailed socioeconomic analysis: generous credit to other workers in the field; insider insights into political and workplace change; frank and touching family and personal experiences – all underpinned by Mathew’s capacity to communicate complex issues with clarity and narrative force. It also includes a detailed agenda for policies to achieve greater gender equality in the home and at work now and in the future.
Mathews starts the story in the 1960s with the admission that back then reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex partly ‘defeated’ her; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique ‘passed her by’; and The Female Eunuch put her off by ‘its angry-in-your-face tone’. Thirty years later, she was on the same Dublin conference program as Friedan and the inimitable Bella Abzug.