Lifting the Burden of Women's Care Work: Should Robots Replace the “Human Touch”?




This paper treats the political and ethical issues associated with the new caretaking technologies. Given the number of feminists who have raised serious concerns about the future of care work in the United States, and who have been critical of the degree to which society “free rides” on women's caretaking labor, I consider whether technology may provide a solution to this problem. Certainly, if we can create machines and robots to take on particular tasks, we may lighten the care burden that women currently face, much of which is heavy and repetitious, and which results in injury and care “burnout” for many female caretakers. Yet, in some contexts, I argue that high-tech robotic care may undermine social relationships, cutting individuals off from the possibility of social connectedness with others.