THE RUTH GIBSON MEMORIAL AWARD
GLADYS RUTH GIBSON CBE
BA, DipEd, FACE
29 DECEMBER 1901 − 23 AUGUST 1972
This award, of A$4,000, was awarded to two recipients equally in 2021 to provide financial assistance to women to further the applicant’s studies and/or research, or to travel to a meeting, seminar, symposium or conference, either in Australia or overseas for purposes approved by the Ruth Gibson Memorial Award Selection Committee. It is expected that the projects will benefit women and girls in the South Australian community. Refer to Selection Criteria and Conditions for more details.
Miss Ruth Gibson was a woman of tremendous vigour, keen interest, and strong friendship. She was no women’s suffragette, but was ever ready to put her tremendous energy and efficiency into any cause which she believed to be in the interests of women generally and to raise their status in the world.
Ruth Gibson was born in Adelaide and remained a staunch supporter of her home city, while, at the same time, exercising her love of travel whenever opportunity afforded. The main opportunities were provided through meetings of the National Council of Women at National and International levels.
Ruth Gibson joined the Education Department as a teacher in 1921. In 1941, her abilities were recognised in her appointment as Inspector of Schools, in succession to Miss Adelaide Miethke. This position took Ruth to all parts of South Australia where secondary school classes existed. In due course, her educational affiliations included the Adelaide Women Graduates’ Association (President), the Adelaide University Graduates’ Association (Vice President), the Australian College of Education SA Chapter (Treasurer), Florence Nightingale Committee for Nursing Scholarships and the Churchill Fellowship Selection Committee (SA).
In addition, Ruth Gibson was a foundation member of the Adelaide Soroptimist Club (later President), President of the Adelaide Young Women's Christian Association, member of the State Council Girl Guides’ Association, the Junior Red Cross Committee, the United Nations’ Association of SA (Vice President), the Australia Day Committee and the ABC Talks Committee.
While this list is not exhaustive, it does portray the diversity of interests of this remarkable woman. It was, however, the NCW which claimed her first love, and which indeed provided Ruth Gibson with her most valuable training ground for public office. She attended her first international gathering of NCW in 1938, and from that time her interest never flagged. She became President of the SA Council in 1951, President of the NCWA in 1952, and represented the Commonwealth of Australia at the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was awarded the OBE in the Coronation Honours List and the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday List of 1971.
Ruth Gibson attended most of the triennial conferences of the International Council of Women, held in various cities of Europe and the UK. She became a Vice-President of ICW and, when her term expired, was elevated to the Committee of honour. She was approached for nomination as President, but for a number of reasons, declined.
Ruth Gibson initiated the purchase of NCW House in Adelaide, Over many years she worked hard with her fellow trustees for the freehold of this property.
Government assignments for Ruth included appointment to the Rent Control Enquiry in SA (1951), representation of the Australian Government at the United Nations Status of Women’s Commission Meetings in Geneva (1956) and New York (1957), when she acted as Rapporteur.
This catalogue of interests and activities must not obscure the personal involvement, the hearty humour and the humble service that Ruth Gibson added to her zest for life, nor must it overlook her life-long insistence on family claims above all others. She was devoted to her family and in later years of retirement, derived much pleasure from great-nieces and nephews, as she did from their parents. At the time of her death, Ruth was President of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, SA Section (Auxiliary).
It is not surprising that when she died, the NCWSA felt that steps should be taken to set up a permanent memorial that would be worthy of Ruth Gibson’s lifetime of service, both to her own state and beyond.
A bronze sun-dial erected on the Plaza of the Adelaide Festival Theatre and a Scholarship Fund offered through NCWA and ICW, were made possible by gifts to a public fund organised by the President of NCWSA and opened by the Lady Mayoress of Adelaide. The sun-dial, executed by Owen Broughton, bears the inscription: In Memory of Gladys Ruth Gibson CBE, 1901−1972, Zealous Citizen, educator and worker for the advancement of women. Erected by her many friends.
The plaque was set in position in November 1973 and dedicated by the ICW President, Dr Mehrangiz Dolatshahi. The scholarship was first offered in 1978 and aims to perpetuate those ideals which Ruth Gibson pursued in the interests of women.
In honour of a treasured NCWSA Member, Gladys Ruth Gibson CBE BA, DipEd, FACE, this award(s), a total award pool of up to $7,000 will be distributed in 2024. The project for which the application for the Award is made must be to further the applicant’s studies and/or research, or to travel to a meeting, seminar, symposium or conference, either in Australia or overseas for purposes approved by the Ruth Gibson Memorial Award Selection Committee. It is expected that the projects will benefit women and girls in the South Australian community.
Applications Open: 1st February 2024
Applications Close: 28th February 2024
As in past years, we ask that applicants demonstrate their connection to National Council of Women SA member organisations as a way to understand their important work. Thus, all applications must be "sponsored" by an organisation affiliated with the National Council of Women SA or associated organisations.
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Please direct any questions to the Secretary, Ruth Gibson Memorial Award Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.