HerStory Archive

CAIRNS, Joan

Born: 7/1932

Special Achievements:

Joan Cairns was Australia’s first female anaesthetic technician.  Joan worked at the Alice Springs Hospital and took the opportunity to study at the Mayfield Medical Centre in Victoria.  She was the only female class member and the head of the course was very scathing about a woman training to become an anaesthetic technician.  Undeterred, Joan returned to Alice Springs Hospital in 1975 as the first female anaesthetic technician registered with the Australian Society of Anaesthetic and Operating Theatre Technicians and went on to join the Operating Theatre team at Alice Springs Hospital.  Wendy McGrath, another Alice Springs Hospital employee, was Australia’s second registered female anaesthetic technician. 

“I found there was a lot of people who didn’t really think women could do the job.  So I thought, just watch me!” (Joan Cairns)



Resources

  • Image - Joan Cairns and Wendy McGrath

    The photo is of Joan Cairns and Wendy McGrath, the first and second female anaesthetic technicians to be registered with the Australian Society of Anaesthetic and Operating Theatre Technicians, photographed in Theatre, 1976

    Image courtesy of Joan Cairns, NPWHF collection