Cece Burger: Technology in the Home

For this blog, I read a few old newspaper articles on women and technology in the home. All of them acclaimed the wonders, capacities, and prospects of new home technology. In many of the articles, technology for the home promised greater freedoms for women. The L.A. Times in 1959 reported technology as one factor, “leading to the rise in feminine employment” and explained developments such as manufactured food and clothing have, “helped to ease the time-consuming workload of women in the home.” Greater free time for women was a major prospect of tech innovations, which seemed to cause a lot of excitement. Consistent throughout these articles is the feeling that duties of the household would become minimal and tech would greatly change the lives of women. Not all the articles were so enthusiastic about technology in the home. Some had a more negative tone and lamented the altering of women’s roles and the dramatic change that seemed to be on the horizon. Even an early article by the New York Times in 1932 predicted that women would become jobless in mechanized homes. The NYT quoted the president of Stevens Institute of Technology who declared, “Women are up against the most acute cases of technological unemployment, having been dumped out of the work that was peculiarly their own.” I found many newspapers of the time echoed similar expectations of technologies leaving women lost or without purpose, which seemed to be the standard opinion.

The articles I read show specific feelings of the time and highlight strong anticipation/ speculation over how dramatically roles of women would change. There was often negative word choice and unenthusiastic tones used by writers that seem to stress how uncertain society, particularly men, were over the change in women’s roles. These articles came from major newspapers with credibility but were written by men who held traditional views of women’s role in society. The approach taken by the writers are very interesting and telling of the societal norms, many of which today we find sexist. These perspectives also do not give a full picture but they do show a standard view of how society at large felt about 20th-century household technology. The articles lack alternative viewpoints such as how women themselves felt about the household technologies.

Sources:

LynnPoole, “Technology Aids Women to Get Jobs.” Los Angeles Times, 9 November 1959

“Sees Women Jobless in Mechanized Homes: Head of Stevens Institute.” New York Times, 10 April 1932.

Patrick Buchanan, “Right from the beginning.” Little, Brown and Company, Boston. 1988

Word Count: 416

  1 comment for “Cece Burger: Technology in the Home

  1. hryan
    September 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Excellent point about these articles being written by men! If you wanted to learn what women thought of new household technologies, what kinds of sources would you turn to?
    -HR

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