Recognising S&F’s first bias breaker this International Women’s Day


This year the theme of International Women’s Day is breaking the bias and for Spruson & Ferguson we don’t need to look far for early inspiration.

Miss Mary Murray joined Spruson & Ferguson in 1906, becoming the first female tracer (patent drawer) in Australia.  She went on to have a 54-year career with the firm, playing a role in thousands of new inventions.

But she had to overcome a major bias to get her start, and that bias was from her father.

Back in 1906, a woman needed to seek permission to work from her father.  Mary’s father initially flatly refused on the basis that women shouldn’t work and it would be ‘too much’. 

It is said that after many conversations, he finally agreed.

Her illustrious career included doing all the drawings for Sir George Julius’ world first – the Automatic Totaliser.  For horse racing fans, yes the tote board was invented in Australia!  When the first totaliser was ready at Randwick, Mary travelled with Sir George.  Apparently it was her first and only visit to a racetrack.

When Mary retired in 1960, the Australian Women’s Weekly ran a story on Mary and her career. 

Today, Spruson & Ferguson have women across all levels working with inventors and the world’s biggest brands continuing in Mary’s footsteps.

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