“As you climbed the rickety stairs of an old woolshed at Sydney harbour in 1944, you would hear the thrum of clicks and buzzes. Rows of men and women in uniforms and headsets would be tapping away vigorously at small machines, under the careful watch of their young female trainers. Presiding over the cacophony was a tiny woman, known to everyone as ‘Mrs Mac’, one of Australia’s wartime legends.” — Allen & Unwin Publishing, Radio Girl by David Dufty
Florence Violet McKenzie should be a household name!
She was Australia’s first female electrical engineer.
She trained thousands of young women and men in Morse Code.
She was instrumental in getting Australian women into the armed forces during World War II.
She wrote a best-selling cookbook.
She was an ABC presenter in its first year of existence.
She was a lifelong advocate for inclusivity in education and use of technology.
At 3Ai we feel a special connection to Florence Violet McKenzie. Our Director Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell is the inaugural Florence Violet McKenzie Chair. The Chair is an initiative of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science and represents Florence Violet McKenzie’s pioneering spirit and lifelong pursuit of inclusive use of technology in society. We proudly acknowledge and celebrate Florence Violet McKenzie and her legacy. You can click here to find out more about the Florence Violet McKenzie Chair.
The 3A Institute is proud to promote the book, Radio Girl by David Dufty — a biography of the extraordinary life of Florence Violet McKenzie. We hope that you will be as inspired by her incredible story and achievements as we are.
A taste of the book
“A smart girl from a poor mining town who loved to play with her father’s tools, Florence Violet McKenzie became an electrical engineer, a pioneer of radio and a successful businesswoman. As the clouds of war gathered in the 1930s, she defied convention and trained young women in Morse code, foreseeing that their services would soon be sorely needed. Always a champion of women, she was instrumental in getting Australian women into the armed forces.
Mrs Mac was adored by the thousands of young women and men she trained, and came to be respected by the defence forces and the public too for her vision and contribution to the war effort. David Dufty brings her story to life in this heartwarming and captivating biography.”
– Allen & Unwin Publishing, Radio Girl by David Dufty
About the author
David Dufty has a PhD in psychology, and has worked as a statistician and social researcher at the University of Memphis, Newspoll, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. His book The Secret Code Breakers of Central Bureau won the 2017 Nib Military History Prize.