Working conditions for staff were difficult when Amy Castle became a temporary assistant in the photography section of Wellington’s Dominion Museum in 1907. The building was damp and poorly ventilated. Female assistants were seen as a cost-saving measure, because they were paid less than their male colleagues.1
Castle was transferred to the entomological collection and became the first woman employed in a professional role in a New Zealand museum. By 1913, she was in complete charge of cataloguing this enormous collection, but still earned only two-thirds the amount of an equivalent male co-worker. Castle gave public lectures, wrote papers on moths and butterflies for the New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology, and arranged for capture nets to be issued to school children. It may be one of those children who, in 1940, named a new species of fish after Castle “in recognition of generous help accorded one of us in identifying insects from stomachs of fish.”2
1. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga, ‘Castle, Amy’, Web page, accessed 3 August 2017, /en/biographies/4c14/castle-amy.
2. ‘Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand [Electronic Resource]’, accessed 3 August 2017, http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/volume/rsnz_69/rsnz_69_02_002500.html.
This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.