Students at the University of Sydney

Early women students

Margaret Angas (later Hamer)

Margaret Angas (later Hamer) was the first woman admitted to the Faculty of Engineering in 1946 and became the first woman in the University and in Australia to graduate Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering in 1948.


Her early years

Born in 1926 in Adelaide, Margaret was the eldest of two children of Dudley and Mary Angas.

Margaret was educated by governesses at the family property, Hill River, at Clare, South Australia, and began secondary school in Adelaide at Woodlands Girls Grammar School.

Her student days at the University of Sydney

Margaret was the first woman admitted to the Faculty of Engineering at Adelaide where she studied for two years before coming to the University of Sydney in 1946 to specialise in aeronautics.

In 1948 she graduated Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering, the first woman to do so at the University and in Australia.

Before her degree was conferred, she worked for six months for a Commonwealth research organisation, testing structural materials for aircraft construction.

Margaret Angas in 1948

Margaret Angas in 1948, photo, 'The Argus, 2 March 1948.

Her career

In November 1948, Margaret married Alan Hamer, a chemist and Rhodes scholar.

The couple moved to Melbourne in 1949. Margaret did not resume her career in aeronautical engineering, preferring to start a family, and the first of her four children was born in 1949. Margaret found time in the mid-1960s to study for a degree in fine arts (honours) at Melbourne University.

She later said "I did the degree because I was keen on flying, but couldn't because of short sight. Then I did the stupid thing that we all did, got married and had children - so I never used the degree." ('The Age' 27 April 1977)

In 1967, her husband was posted to India for four years as director of Imperial Chemical Industries. Margaret accompanied him, leaving their four children in Australia to continue their education.

They returned to Australia in 1972. Shortly after their return, she joined the board of management of the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women in 1972. Initially she was part of the board's building team, and in 1974 became chairman of the planning committee for the relocation of the hospital (together with Prince Henry's Hospital) to a new site in Clayton that was to later become the Monash Medical Centre. In 1977, she succeeded Nancy Hamer as the chairman of the Queen Victoria Hospital board, a position she held until the eventual relocation of the hospital in 1986.

Her work in the early development of the Centre was acknowledged by Monash University in 1987, when she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws.

After leaving the Victoria Hospital board, in 1986 Margaret became a magistrate of the Victorian Magistrates Court, and was a member of the committee of the Victoria Court Network until 1990.

She was awarded the medal of the order of Australia for her service to the community in 1997, and she reitred from public llife in 1990.

Margaret died on 14 May 2012 aged 86.

Information sources
  • National Library of Australia historic newspapers
  • 'Leader at key hospital during change", WAtoday.com.au, 29 June 2012