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Dame Margaret Blackwood DBE

Dame Margaret Blackwood was an outstanding role model for women - whether working during the war, in education or to support women.

Honour Roll

Within weeks of Margaret Blackwood's enlistment into the WAAF's the Director of Signals sought her assistance. Royal Air force (RAF) ciphers coming from England were lost at sea and 'Blackie' as she was known to her friends, colleagues, and students, helped construct the first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) cipher code (Andusair) for Allied use in the war in the Pacific. She was soon promoted to Officer Commanding of the No. 1 Depot, later Head of Recruit Training, and retired as Wing Officer.

For nearly 40 years, 'Blackie' was a member of Soroptimist International, a worldwide organisation of women in management and the professions working to advance human rights and the status of women. She was President of the Melbourne Club 1957-59 and then Chairman of the Co-ordinating Committee of Soroptimist International Australia which became the Federation of South West Pacific. She was probably the best known, loved and respected Soroptimist in Australia.

Within the University, 'Blackie' was very popular as she was very supportive of the students and did her utmost to help them. In her role as Dean of Women she was conscious of women student's welfare and in 1975 was Convenor of the University Assembly's Working Group on Women in the University. In 1980, Margaret was asked to head a thirteen member Consultative Council on Health and Human Relations Education to advise the then Minister for Education.

Margaret was an outstanding role model for women who wanted to achieve their full potential and then serve their community using their intellectual talents. She was able to relate to people and gain co-operation. She was the founder of Janet Clarke Hall, and the first woman to be elected as Deputy Chancellor in the University of Melbourne. Margaret was the first woman to confer degrees of the University of Melbourne, and the first person to be appointed an Honorary Life Member by the Association of Women on Campus at the University of Melbourne.

Her name is perpetuated by a Prize in Genetics, established by her Department, and also by a Scholarship for a second year student in Genetics created by Soroptimist International of South West Pacific. Her Honours were given in recognition of her services to education and her fine record of public work.