Mod cons biggest aids to women’s lib: Study

March 13th, 2009 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 13 (IANS) Plug-in modern conveniences like washing machines and refrigerators transformed women’s lives and helped them enter the workforce, confirms a new study.
Within a short span, mod cons became accessible to the majority. In 1910s, a fridge sold for $1,600 and 26 years later they could be purchased for $170. Access to electric stoves, washing machines and vacuum cleaners also eased.

“These innovations changed the lives of women,” said Emanuela Cardia, an economics professor at Montreal University. “Although it wasn’t a revolution per se, the arrival of this technology in households had an important impact on the workforce and the economy.”

Cardia based her research on more than 3,000 censuses conducted between 1940 and 1950, from thousands of American households, across urban and rural areas. “We calculated that women who loaded their stove with coal saved 30 minutes every day with an electric stove,” said Cardia.

“The result is that women flooded the workforce. In 1900, five percent of married women had jobs. In 1980, that number jumped to 51 percent.”

In 1913, the vacuum cleaner became available, in 1916 it was the washing machine, in 1918 it was the refrigerator, in 1947 the freezer, and in 1973 the microwave was on the market. All of these technologies had an impact on home life, but none had a stronger impact than running water, said a Montreal release.

“We often forget that running water is a century-old innovation in North America, and it is even more recent in Europe. Of all innovations, it’s the one with the most important impact,” said Cardia.

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