Career and activism
Wendy started her impressive career as a secondary school teacher in Sydney before moving abroad to teach in London and Pittsburgh. Wendy returned to Australia pregnant. With six years of teaching experience, she approached the NSW Department of Education for a job in 1968 but was denied a permanent position due to her pregnancy, prompting the start of Wendy’s lifelong battle against injustice.
She joined the Childbirth Education Association, where she campaigned to allow fathers to be present at the birth and for abortion-law reform. It was an uphill battle for change. With a young child, Wendy had no access to pre-schools, no maternity leave and it was a time where access to the contraceptive pill was restricted.
Wendy left teaching to join Family Planning NSW and became executive director of its national parent body three years later. She went on to take other duties like writing a column for Cleo magazine, being on the ABC's board for eight years, being the general manager of Australia's bicentennial celebrations, writing seven books, and running the National Trust for four years.
In 1995, Wendy set up her own consulting firm, advising companies on diversity, leadership, and work-life balance, as well as matching them with non-profit organisations to develop programs for the disadvantaged. She also went on to chair Circus Oz, McGraths Estate Agents, headspace (Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation), and Pacific Friends of the Global Foundation.
With her determination and resilience, Wendy shines as a silent hero for positive change for women and mothers in Australia. While she acknowledges that women continue to not be represented equally, she has contributed to paving the way forward for women in the workforce and women's rights generally across Australia
At All About Women, discover Wendy’s work behind the scenes helping guide and counsel women across the country. In this conversation, Larissa Behrendt, who herself has benefitted from Wendy’s counsel, explores her extraordinary life, including her body of largely unsung work.