The cook, the cooker and the gendering of the kitchen



This article combines the approaches of actor-network theory and poststructuralism to consider how a household technology has interacted with patterns of gender hierarchies over time. Two major innovations in cooking technologies are analysed in relation to cooking activities and the related conceptions of women’s roles in families, which are central to these concerns. The first technological development is the thermostat oven control, introduced in the 1920s and 1930s; the second is the microwave oven, introduced in the late 1980s and 1990s. Important conceptions of the cook’s performance are examined and various implicit roles that have been tacitly assumed by innovating agents in the use of cookers are made explicit. The study contributes to discussions of gender and technology in the context of domestic life.