More Work for Mother

18 september 2021 15:30 t/m 17:00 - Door: Webredactie

The Ironies of Household Technologies from the Open Hearth to the Microwave (select chapters TBA)

Date: September 18th 2021
Time: 15:30-17:00
Presenter: Tom Coggins
Author: Ruth Schwartz Cowan


In her seminal work on the history of household technologies, More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwartz Cowan dispels a prevalent myth endorsed by historians from across the political spectrum, namely that the home is a place of pure consumption that exists beyond the world of industry and production. By detailing the many innovations that led to the development of the home as we know it today, she demonstrates that housework has always involved complicated, often technologically mediated work processes that produce goods and resources needed to sustain families. She argues that technologies meant to reduce household labor have almost always altered what needs to be done to maintain a home rather than making homemakers' lives easier. Overall, the book contends that innovation inside the home over the past century has not led to the emancipation of women from household labor, but instead created ‘more work for mother’ that must be completed to ensure families can participate in wider society.

If you would like to join this session, please send an email to: Tom Coggins ( or Madelaine Ley (


At a recent 4TU PhD course, we found that students (including ourselves) shared a common interest in intersectional feminist philosophy of technology, but lacked clarity on how to use it in our work. So, we’re starting up a reading group to deepen our knowledge of the field, explore how we can integrate this perspective in our work, and foster a community of like-minded (interdisciplinary) scholars across TPM. We hope you will join us!

Below you’ll find a description on the group’s purpose, format and schedule. Please email Tom Coggins ( or Madelaine Ley ( if you’re interested in joining and/or presenting.


The reading group will deepen our knowledge of intersectional feminist philosophy of technology, examine how we can include this perspective in our research, and foster a community of like-minded scholars across TPM. The group discusses one  or more texts (articles or book chapters) of approximately 20 - 60 pages once every two months. Texts are chosen based on the following criteria:

  1. They deal with themes associated  with intersectional feminist theory (i.e., gender-based injustices, the performativity of gender, the politico-economic function of gender) AND technology. 
  2. One participant who is familiar  with the text(s) will volunteer beforehand and present its core argument and key concepts during the discussion session. Ideally, the participant has used the chosen text(s) in their work and can offer insights into how they have interpreted and used it.

Format of Discussion Section

Prior to the discussion session, participants upload critical questions they have concerning the text(s) to a shared document created for this purpose. All questions are welcome. One participant (decided beforehand) prepares a short presentation which outlines their interpretation of the text(s) core argument and key concepts. (10 minutes)

Afterwards, the presenter facilitates discussion with other participants (based on questions uploaded and accessible to the presenter beforehand). One of the organisers will help moderate this discussion (30 minutes)

Organisers open the floor for free discussion (20 minutes)

The session ends with reflections on the text(s) key takeaways. For instance, what was its main message? What did individual participants learn from the text and the session? (15 minutes)