Ruth Schwartz Cowan

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Cowan at a talk in 2008

Ruth Schwartz Cowan (born 1941) is an American historian of technology noted for research on how household technologies such as home appliances affected expectations of women and housework.


Ruth Schwartz Cowan was trained as a historian of science. Cowan has a B.A. from Barnard College, an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University,[1] under supervision of William Coleman.

Cowan was a professor of history at SUNY Stony Brook from 1967 to 2002. She also served as Director of Women's Studies from 1985-1990 and Chair of the Honors College from 1997-2002.[1][2] Cowan is a Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania.[3]

Cowan's book More Work for Mother found that since 1700, "technological change shifted the burden of domestic labor from adult men and children to mothers and wives."[2]

Honors and awards[edit]

Cowan's More Work for Mother received the Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology in 1984.[2] In 1997 the Society for the History of Technology also awarded her the Leonardo da Vinci Medal.

Cowan received the John Desmond Bernal Prize in 2007 for distinguished scholarly contributions to the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) for her textbook A Social History of American Technology.

Selected publications[edit]

  • More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. Basic Books. 1983. ISBN 0-465-04731-9
  • A Social History of American Technology, Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 9780195046052
  • Ruth Schwartz Cowan (30 June 2009). Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02992-7.


  1. ^ a b "Ruth Schwartz Cowan". Center for Nanotechnology in Society, University of California Santa Barbara. Retrieved 2015-04-19.
  2. ^ a b c Joy Parr. 2005. Industrializing the Household: Ruth Schwartz Cowan's More Work for Mother. Book review. Technology and Culture 46:3, pp. 604-612.
  3. ^ Ruth Schwartz Cowan page at University of Pennsylvania's Department of History and Sociology of Science

External links[edit]