On the fringe of the Technical World: female electrical appliance demonstrators in interwar Scotland

Eleanor Peters* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines the role of female electrical appliance ‘demonstrators’ in interwar Scotland. During this period, manufacturers launched a variety of domestic electrical appliances into a consumer market already saturated with solid fuel and gas-fired equivalents. To tackle the fierce competition the electrical industry deployed female demonstrators, originally trained in domestic science, to entertain and educate audiences across Scotland. Notably, Glasgow-based demonstrators, and representatives at Scotland’s domestic science colleges, expressed an early interest in working with the Electrical Association for Women, to benefit from the organisation’s modern and empowering image. This article compares demonstrators’ understanding of the purpose of their role with the views of consumers, domestic science experts and those working in the electrical industry. An insight into the vital, yet forgotten, ‘mediating’ role which demonstrators performed between the electrical industry and consumers adds to the wider discussion about women and their participation in a male-dominated workplace throughout the interwar years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-254
Number of pages25
JournalWomen's History Review
Issue number2
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

I am grateful to my supervisors, Dr Ben Marsden and Professor Ralph O’Connor, for their encouragement and support from the beginning stages of this article to the end. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Archive Centre Team at Glasgow Caledonian University, whose assistance and flexibility made this article possible, and to Dr Carmen M. Mangion and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable contributions on an earlier draft of this essay. Their feedback was extremely helpful in the development of my article.

This work was supported by a research grant from the British Society for the History of Science (awarded April 2019).


  • electrical appliances
  • electrical industry
  • demonstrating
  • domestic science
  • scotland
  • interwar
  • consumerism


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