Woman Baldock, Cora


Written by Helen Marshall, RMIT University

Cora Baldock was born Corrie Vellekoop in 1935 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. As a child she lived with academic-minded relatives whose influence led her to study sociology at Leiden university, graduating Cum Laude in 1960 with a masters thesis on the stratification of women's occupations. As an undergraduate, she was briefly the mentor of Princess (later Queen) Beatrix, of the Netherlands. In 1964, she took up a lecturer's position at Canterbury University, New Zealand, where she completed a PhD. She married in 1970 and, after several years in academic positions in the USA, during which time her two children were born, became a senior lecturer at Australian National University (ANU) before moving to Murdoch University, Perth. There she remained for 22 years, gaining a personal chair as professor of sociology in 1993. She was both the university's first female professor and its first professor of sociology.

Her sociological interests were in fields important to women. Paid and unpaid work were ongoing concerns in her research work; she ran a large Australian Research Council (ARC) funded study of graduates and the labour market and carried out major studies of volunteering in welfare (Baldock, 1990). Aged care policy then became an interest (Baldock 1999), as did caring, with studies of the distant care by migrants to Australia for their ageing parents still living in their countries of origin (Baldock 2003; Baldassar, Baldock and Wilding 2007). A common broad theme in her work is the intersection of gender and social policy, and Women Social Welfare and the State (1983, 1988) with Bettina Cass remains an important reference.

Cora helped establish Women's Studies as an interdisciplinary and inter-university major sequence at Murdoch, Deakin and Queensland Universities and for many years taught about gendered work and family policy. Her perspective was resolutely feminist. In her 2001 address to the graduation ceremony at Murdoch University that awarded her an honorary degree and the title of Emeritus Professor on the occasion of her retirement, she noted wryly of the laudatory summary of her career 'There is actually a sense of "otherness" when women, or Aboriginal people, or migrants for that matter are told that they are the FIRST'. She went on, quoting Zillah Eisenstein, 'It does more to remind us that all of the others are men than ... To help us imagine that all the others could be women'.

Cora's academic role included commitment to the professional association of her discipline. Her first book after the move to Australia was a study of the sociology in this country. (Baldock and Lally 1974).She was president of the Australian Sociological Association (formerly Sociological Association of Australia and New Zealand) 1979-1980, and was the founder of the Jean Martin award committee that oversees that association's longest established publication prize.

In addition to many positions of authority at Murdoch University, Cora was active in the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and worked in the community in many ways - for example serving on the Federal Government's Multicultural Advisory Committee. She was a member of the Australian Research Grants Committee in the 1980s at a time few women served on that body. Living in Queensland since 2011, Cora continues to be active as a member of U3A (University of the Third Age), and to focus on her family.

Published Resources


  • Baldassar, Loretta; Baldock, Cora Vellekoop and Wilding, Raelene, Families Caring Across Borders, Migration, Ageing and Transnational Caregiving, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, England, 2007. Details
  • Baldock, Cora Vellekoop, Volunteers in Welfare, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales, 1990. Details
  • Baldock, Cora Vellekoop, Seniors as volunteers: an international perspective on policy, Ageing and Society, vol. 19, 1999, 581-602 pp. Details
  • Baldock, Cora Vellekoop and Cass, Bettina, Women, Social Welfare and the State in Australia, 2nd edn, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, New South Wales, 1988. Details
  • Baldock, Cora Vellekoop and Lally, Jim, Sociology in Australia and New Zealand: Theory and Methods, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, United States of America, 1974. Details

Journal Articles

  • Baldock, Cora Vellekoop, 'Long-distance Migrants and Family Support', Health Sociology Review, vol. 12, no. 1, 2003, pp. 45-54. Details

Online Resources

See also