Innovations and the Liberation of the Traditional Role of the Housewife
Tomas Creagh: 112406628
Figure: 1 Typewriter, Patented 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes(Tomas Creagh 14-11-15)
Figure: 2 Microwave, Invented in 1946, (Tomas Creagh 14-11-15)
Figure: 3 Dishwasher, Gained Popularity in the 1950’s, (Tomas Creagh 14-11-15)
Figure: 4 Automatic Washing Machine, Introduced by Bendix in 1937, (Tomas Creagh 14-11-15)
In the advent of industrialisation and consequent urbanisation which swept throughout the Western World in the 19th and 20th centuries women’s role in society gradually changed. The role of Women in society changed from essentially domestic servitude to one independence and self reliance. Technological innovations in both the domestic and work environments greatly influenced these changes. In figure: 1 we can see a picture of a typewriter, the typewriter was to become a game changer when it came to Women in the workplace. “But the typewriters introduction into the hitherto all-male office space served as the symbolic pivot around which the feminization of secretarial labour took place. In the space of thirty years, women came to make up 95% of the clerical and secretarial labour force.” 1. (Jain, 2006). As we can see the typewriter brought a significant number of women into the workforce in the mid to early 20th and brought female dominance to the secretarial field thus setting precedence for future female participation in the workplace. The proliferation of domestic housekeeping appliances in the post WW2 era is probably one of the great turning points in the liberation of the traditional housewife and increased female participation in the labour force. Figures: 2, 3 and 4 are examples of such appliances which drastically reduced the amount of time and labour it took to complete traditional housework thus giving Women of the era extra time off therefore allowing them to take up employment. While the nature of the invention of these appliances may not have been the liberation of women from domestic servitude that is a role which they have certainly fulfilled.
Jain, S. S. (2006). Injury: The Politics of Product Design and Safety Law in the United States. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.