However, when life present you with some though choices, an unexpected solution may also appear. Luck would have it that the commercial counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy was going back to “the old country” and a replacement had to be found. He suggested Gerd Vold Hurum for the position. Even better, while Gerd earned $ 200 in her current job, the commercial counsellor earned $ 350.
The Ambassador imediately agreed when he was asked if Gerd Vold Hurum was a good choice for the job. She would become the first female commercial councellor in the history of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only the question of salary remained, and then present the case to the ministry and get their approval.
But now the long and “proud” traditions of the foreign service began to interfere in the matter. The Charge d’affaires, who was responsible for filling the position, anticipated that it would not be a proper diplomatic procedure to proposed equal pay for equal work. Gerd Vold Hurum’s predesessor was a man, and the women working for the Embassy did not earn such high figures. The “smart” solution was to get her the job and give her a pay raise after the fact. At least, this was his argument. Consequently, he suggested a monthly salary of $ 290. He even thought he was being checky for even asking this much. After a good night’s sleep, the man had suffered a severe anguish attack and he reduced the proposed salary to $ 275. But doubts still gnawed him and he phoned Ambassador Morgenstierne who agreed. “Not higher than $ 250 dollars!” The faithful office ladies who had worked up to 28 years at the embassy for a minimum wage could become jealous.
When the job-offer arrived from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the proposed monthly salary was cut by another $ 50 to only $ 225. Gerd Vold Hurum, who was proud and did not intend to sell herself cheap, told the ambassador that she would not take the job unless she received equal pay for equal work. On returning to her office, she booked a flight home to Oslo a few days later, on December 6th, 1946.
Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki Expedition was to benefit from Gerd Vold Hurum’s unfortunate case. Ambassador Morgenstierne ordered her to remain in the position as Head of encryption until a replacement could come from Oslo and be trained. The Kon-Tiki boys willingly made her project leader and part of the Kon-Tiki family, and benefited from her profesionality and top notch work ethics that her country did not appreciate highly enough.