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Glorified housekeepers or pioneering professionals? The professional lives of home science graduates from the University of New Zealand.

Contemporary scholarship has enabled a deeper analysis of the dynamics that gave rise to professional home science and a greater understanding of the obstacles women encountered and the strategies they employed to gain legitimacy as the field developed in the twentieth century. This paper examines how home science moved from its origins as 'glorified housekeeping' to encompass the 'professional and 'scientific' dimensions of women's lives. It goes beyond judgments about whether home science 'helped' or 'hurt' women, and asks instead, what we can learn from a study of the professional lives of women working in the highly gendered domains of academia, the professions and education? The article documents the scientific and professional lives of two women, E. Neige Todhunter and Emere Makere Waiwaha Kaa Mountain who completed qualifications at the Faculty of Home Science, Otago University in the 1920s and 1930s as a way of offering new insights into the professionalisation of women and a rethinking of the relationship between women and household science in the twentieth century.

International developments in science education for women

The rapid growth of higher education for women in nineteenth century United States and Britain provided a springboard for women's entrance to the scientific profession. By mid-century, the United States led the world in the provision of private and public higher education to women. The popularisation of science in academies and institutions of higher learning enabled more women to study science and to gain access to the increasing number of professional and academic jobs in science. (1) By the early twentieth century as science moved from amateur to a professional status and from a private, home-based education to all-male educational institutions, women found themselves increasingly excluded from its study. (2) Although girls entering colleges such as Vassar College, New York, had opportunities for a scientific education, the standard was uneven and few were able to gain access to the same career opportunities as men. (3) The majority of women seriously engaged in science were relegated to the role of assistant or 'populariser'. (4) Frustrated by their failure to gain access to mainstream science, many women in the United States turned to the new home economics courses offered in American public and private high schools and land grant universities. According to Margaret Rossiter the development of household science as the largest area of 'women's work' in academia was shaped by two long-range trends: one of nutrition research, which created a large supply of new information, and another of 'popularisation', which fed a strong and increasing demand for practical advice. Rossiter attributes the 'feminisation of the field' to men's aversion to advising women on domestic matters and their willingness to let the women do it instead. (5) Whatever the reason, by the early twentieth century, household science became one of the few areas providing a 'scientific' higher education for women seeking professional employment in academia, education and business.

Creating 'women's work' in science

In the context of a political ideology that women should be given access to a higher education in order to prepare them to inhabit a 'womanly sphere', a number of 'progressive' educational institutions began to upgrade their institutional offerings. Traditions of informal scientific learning in the home were gradually replaced by formal scientific education in the academies and then the colleges, some of which eventually had large faculties of women and offered an intellectual training as rigorous as that given to men. Together, these coveted positions became what Rossiter calls the 'entering wedge' into the increasingly professionalised scientific world of the late nineteenth century. (6) By the 1890s, as significant numbers of women began to seek scientific employment, a separate labour market emerged in the area of household science. Here, by providing a domesticated, feminised education in science, women were able to fill scientific niches left unexplored or untended by male scientists. (7)

Rossiter suggests three reasons for the phenomenon; (1) the rise of a new supply of women seeking employment in science including the first female college graduates; (2) strong resistance to this female force's entering traditional kinds of scientific employment (university teaching or government employment); and (3) the changing structure of scientific work which offered new roles and fields for these entrants. (8) Initially, 'progressive' university administrators welcomed household science into their institutions, seeing it as a proper field for women students, one that would train them for their destined vocation of wife and mother. At a time when increasing numbers of women were enrolling in Liberal Arts courses, administrators feared that they would drive men out of these programmes. A department of household science became seen as a separate--and appropriate--academic pathway for women faculty and students. (9)

The establishment of a programme in Home Science at the University of Otago can be seen as a response to the increasing numbers of women entering the 'co-educational' colleges of the University of New Zealand. As the first university college in New Zealand, the University of Otago had been established in 1871 in Dunedin--a province settled in 1848 by the Free Church of Scotland. In the early years, the University of New Zealand had relatively few students and Otago was happy to accept small numbers of 'young ladies anxious for a little culture' as a way of increasing the number of fee-paying students especially as most of them were, at least initially, not matriculated students. (10) However the increasing number of women students wanting to enter university to undertake degrees presented administrators with a dilemma. (11) On the one hand, Otago was ostensibly a co-educational institution, with women freely admitted to all courses, on the other many contemporary educational administrators held conservative views about the dangers of women sharing classes with men. By creating a separate sphere for women students within an ostensibly co-educational institution, university administrators conformed to traditional Victorian attitudes to women--as Maresi Nerad explains it--'co-but not together'. (12) When there had been only a few female students they might be tolerated without any special problem, but their increasing numbers created pressure for segregation, both in the curriculum, with special women's subjects and in student housing, with special women's dormitories, as I shall detail in the following. (13)

The entering wedge: Home Science at the University of Otago

The elevation of home-making to a science in the early years of the twentieth century came about as part of a movement to build national strength and racial fitness by reinforcing the family as a key stabilising force in New Zealand society. (14) Although nineteenth century feminists had promoted motherhood as women's greatest achievement, they also emphasised women's right to take part in the public world of politics and commerce. Fierce debates about the right of girls to a general education echoed those in the United Kingdom. (15) The Wellington Women Teachers' Association condemned the proposal to introduce domestic science as a compulsory element in the education of girls arguing that the 'needs of boys and girls in regard to a general education are exactly the same'. (16) However, conservatives argued that the introduction of home science in schools and universities would lead to more efficient homes, solve the domestic servant problem and provide a cure for a variety of social ills. (17) Others saw the development of home science as a way of increasing academic and professional employment opportunities for university trained women. A diverse group of advocates supported the establishment of a School of Home Science at the University of Otago including three 'progressive' crusaders, John Studholme, Dr F.C. Batchelor and Dr Frederick Truby King who led the public campaign for a school of home science at Otago University. (18) It was their conviction that an academic education in home science would lead to the proper treatment of infants and children, better management of homes and improvements in the nation's health. (19) Studholme offered to fund a new school at Dunedin to the tune of 300 [pounds sterling] a year for four years and to provide 75 [pounds sterling] for a laboratory. Like a number of progressive educators of the time, he supported higher education for women while advocating for its foundation in socialisation into their professional roles as housewives and mothers. (20) As studholme commented:
 To my mind women's education will never be placed on a proper
 footing in this country so long as that knowledge which enables a
 woman to be an efficient wife and mother and to make the very best
 of her home surrounding, is made to take a lower position in our
 University to nearly all other and less essential subjects. (21)

Offers of public support and a government subsidy tipped the balance in favour of the proposal. (22) This was despite some opposition from within the university council and criticism from a number of women who expressed reservations about the motives of the proponents, 'this year pigs, next year fowls, the third year babies', and concerns about the use of women as objects of male scientific study, 'they talk about women as if they were ... to be treated in the experimental way cranks treat chickens". (23) In 1911 the School of Home Science (later a faculty) opened with five students in a 'tin shed' which had formerly been the School of Mines. Winifred Boys-Smith, appointed as first woman professor and chair of the School, (1911-1920) described the basis of the new programme: (24)
 The main aim of these courses is to provide a thoroughly scientific
 education for women, in the principles underlying the conduct and
 organisation of home life, in order to equip them well, and
 adequately, for the part they have to play. (25)

Few, however, realised the magnitude of the task facing the first professor of Home Science. As Ann Gilchrist Strong, Professor of Home Science (1921-1940) later explained, she had to maintain 'the standards of the University education'; while producing 'a highly skilled technician from a degree or diploma course'. (26) As a consequence, the new school, like home economics in the United States, faced what was to be an ongoing dilemma, whether to emphasise academic and research values or to provide a practice based training expected by the public and professional constituencies. (27) As Boys-Smith and her successors found, their commitment to high standards of 'scientific education' was to sit uneasily alongside the expectation of administrators, the Department of Education and the public, that students would become technically proficient in the practical household arts. (28)

Some historians of education argue that the creation of a 'women's sphere' of education was an administrative response applied to any new or previously excluded student group entering higher education. (29) Others suggest that the location of women students in special women's subjects (the humanities plus home science), and in segregated housing (in special women's dormitories within the university), minimised their competitiveness with men in academia, especially in the field of science. (30) Nevertheless, numbers of women inside and outside the university saw the creation of a women's sphere of science as a wedge into academic life, a way of increasing professional and employment opportunities and a chance to improve social and economic conditions in wider society. (31) As Ann Gilchrist Strong stated:
 We ... study these branches of social economy, which are involved
 in house-keeping, the sciences, arts and crafts therein practised
 and their effect on human life. We study human life, conceived as a
 whole, and the intelligent relation of life's activities to a
 common purpose, that of individual and social health. (32)

Thus the creation of a School of Home Science became an opportunity to reshape the field of science in such a way as would advance social conditions inside and outside the home and to expand the career opportunities of the next generation of New Zealand women. (33)

Home Science as a career

Those who graduated with a home science qualification assumed a diverse range of roles within and outside the field of household science. (34) In many respects, the careers of home science graduates at the University of Otago correspond to the model put forward by Rossiter in her study of university-based home economics in the United States in the years 1900 to 1940. (35) According to Rossiter, the women attached to these departments could be divided into three groups. Like Ann Gilchrist Strong, some made their mark within university walls as administrators and institution builders. (36) Others undertook pioneering research in burgeoning areas such as nutrition and dietetics. More rarely, women such as E. Neige Todhunter, did both, managing administrative responsibilities within the university while undertaking pioneering nutrition research. However, the majority, like Emere Makere Waiwaha Kaa Mountain, pursued careers outside university walls in the fields of education, business and health care.

Todhunter and Kaa are typical of the growing numbers of single and small numbers of married women who, in the early decades of the twentieth century, were able to use their higher education to pursue careers in the public sphere. A home science qualification enabled them to perform pioneering work in the fields of nutrition and education, to open avenues for other aspiring women professionals and to work for the improvement of social and economic conditions in wider society. (37)

E. Neige Todhunter: institution builder and pioneer in nutrition research

Elizabeth Neige Todhunter's career as an academic and scientist was shaped by the development in the United States of one of the most significant dimensions of household science: nutritional research. At first, men had dominated the field, but from the 1890s onward, women began to take an active part. Chemist Ellen Swallow Richards, a prime mover, developed an interest in the scientific study of food and in the problem of nutrition for the poor. She fostered the emergence of dietetics, which involved the efficient feeding of people in institutions such as schools, hospitals, factories and prisons. Women also became involved in nutrition through academic appointments in household science at teachers' colleges and importantly at land-grant agricultural colleges and state universities. It was this group who took an important role in the annual Lake Placid Conferences on Home Economics, led by Ellen Richards, which resulted in the foundation of the American Home Economics Association in 1909. (38)

As Household Science was being launched as a social and political force in the United States, Neige Todhunter was growing up in Canterbury, New Zealand. The third of four children, she was born on 6 July 1901 in a snowstorm (Neige is French for snow) on her parents' dairy farm at Burwood, near Christchurch. Her parents, Louisa Elizabeth Bone and Richard Waterhouse Todhunter were dairy farmers who had migrated from Lancashire to New Zealand for a better life. As a child, Neige rode her bicycle two miles to the end of the tram line in order to catch the tram to school in the city.

Neige's secondary education was gained at Christchurch Technical College where with the encouragement of a teacher, she applied to Otago University to study home science, gaining her Bachelor of Home Science in 1924 and earning part of her expenses as a food demonstrator for a gas company. She also taught for three years in a secondary school. A confident and eloquent speaker even as a young woman, Neige was the first woman chosen to represent Otago University in a debate with visiting students from Oxford and Cambridge--the topic being 'That woman has more than come into her own'. The local paper reported that Miss Todhunter won the debate for Otago with 'wit and eloquence'. (39) When Dr Lillian Storms came from the United States to the Faculty of Home Science in 1924 to teach nutrition, Neige became her laboratory assistant and took care of the rat laboratory. (40) In 1928 Neige became the first woman to graduate with a Master of Home Science in New Zealand, publishing her first article on the adequacy of New Zealand diets with Dr Lillian Storms in the Journal of Home Economics. (41) It was her friendship with Lillian Storms and her fascination with developments in nutrition that inspired Neige to travel to the United States to study with Henry C. Sherman at Columbia University. (42) In 1933 she completed her Ph.D. in chemistry and nutrition, and together with Dr Sherman published her doctoral research on vitamin A in The Journal of Nutrition. (43)

At the age of 31, Neige Todhunter moved to the west coast to take up an appointment as an associate professor of nutrition at the State College of Washington, Pullman, and then in 1941 she moved south to join the faculty at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where she established the Human Nutrition Laboratory. Her rapid rise through the academic ranks helped to launch her impressive career in nutrition. She became professor and head at the Department of Food and Nutrition, School of Home Economics, 1941-1952. In 1954, she became Dean of the School of Home Economics, a position she held until she retired in 1966. A unifying theme of Neige's research at this stage of her career was her desire to improve children's health. She initiated and for five years edited School Lunch and Nutrition News, a monthly newsletter that was published in several states. (44) In the laboratory she studied the utilisation of ascorbic acid in school lunches, reporting in 1950 that both forms of the vitamin could be used by human beings. (45) Neige's research also included analyses of vitamin content of fruits and vegetables and the nutritional needs of the elderly. (46) Over the course of a long career, Neige's publications on nutrition extend from youth to old age; from her 1948 article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association on child feeding and school lunch programmes to a 1978 article in Geriatrics on maintaining adequate nutrition in old age. (47)

In later years Neige was associated with the history of nutrition--a subject on which she had a vast knowledge. In 1967 after her retirement as Dean at Alabama, she was invited to join the Division of Nutrition at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, as a visiting professor. There she worked with William J. Darby to establish the Vanderbilt Medical Center Library's History of Nutrition Collection, preserving papers and data and producing Nutrition History Notes, 'a lively account' about people and events in the nutrition world, acquisitions of rare books, manuscripts, and other gifts to the History of Nutrition Collection. (48) At the time of her move to a retirement community in Nashville in 1987 Neige donated her lifelong collection of over 1400 books to the Vanderbilt Library.

Neige's influence on the field of nutrition extends well beyond the list of her publications. During her career she inspired others to write and research on nutrition. As Monica McKenzie recalled in 1958:
 Even in her student days, Neige was a born teacher. In 1924 during
 my first year in Dunedin, I well remember sitting on her bed till
 all hours being coached by Neige for terms and finals. Thirty years
 later, in 1954, I sat enthralled in the School of Home Economics,
 Alabama, and again at the A.D.C. convention in Philadelphia, while
 Neige with the poise of true oratory and with her exceptional
 command of words and phrases, addressed large audiences and held
 them from her first words to her last. (49)

Neige is also credited by the biographers of Mary Swartz Rose, an early researcher in the study of vitamins and minerals, for the stimulus for preparing that biography, for which she wrote the foreword in 1979. (50) As a former colleague recalled, her commanding presence inspired students and colleagues alike 'even when her notorious red hair softened in color, she retained a twinkle of youthful enthusiasm about whatever was her assigned speaking topic of the day'. (51) During the early part of her career, many of Neige's professional association activities were with the American Home Economics Association. She is remembered as a key leader in the formative years of the American Food Service Association. A frequent speaker and consultant for state school lunch programmes, Neige saw this programme as a means of improving nutrition education, particularly for the children of the poor and her involvement as 'the opportunity to participate in one of the most challenging, worthwhile and satisfying nutrition programs'. (52) Over the decade from 1948 to 1958, Neige held national office on the American Dietetic Association, serving as its President 1957-1958. She was made a fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition in 1983.

Neige Todhunter's career constitutes a good example of the opportunities provided by household science within academia for an able, highly educated and enterprising woman. (53) Unlike many of her contemporaries in American household science, she did not emerge from the elite upper-middle class East Coast societies; nor did she attend an elite eastern college such as Vassar College, New York. (54) Yet Neige was one of a small group of pioneer nutritionists of the mid-twentieth century who, for the most part, were far more successful, both in rank and salary, than female colleagues in other fields. As Professor and Dean of the School of Home Economics at the University of Alabama for over twenty five years and later as visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, she was able to promote teaching and research in the nutritional sciences and create employment opportunities for staff and graduates. As a researcher she was a recognised authority on childhood nutrition; as an historian she chronicled the development of the field of nutrition and dietetics. In her long professional career Neige played key leadership roles in organisations as diverse as the American Home Economics Association, the American School Food Service Association and the American Dietetic Association. Her contribution to nutrition was acknowledged by groups inside and outside the field of nutrition. In 1950 she was selected as 'Woman of the Year' by Progressive Farmer Magazine; in 1983 she was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition. (55) Neige is included in the list of thirteen of the most notable New Zealand women scientists. (56)

Emere Kaa: health educator to Maori

While Neige Todhunter was pursuing a career in household science and nutrition in universities in the United States, Emere Kaa was playing a leading role in shaping the field of Maori health education outside the walls of academia. Emere Makere Waiwaha Kaa Mountain was born in 1901 at O Hinewaiapu Pa, at the mouth of the Waiapu in Rangitukia on the East Coast, the fifth of sixteen children. (57) Her mother, Matewa Tangaere and her father Panikena Hamihona Kaa came from the Whanau a Takimoana and Ngati Hoko subtribes of Ngati Porou and were farmers. The family placed a high value on education and the young Emere was sent to Hukarere, a boarding school for Maori girls in Napier. (58) Her early life was shaped by the politics of the Young Maori Party which emphasised the use of western knowledge and technology to promote Maori health and education. Sir Apirana Ngata, a Ngati Porou politician and lawyer, known for his work protecting Maori culture and language, encouraged her to pursue a career in nursing. Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck) a Maori anthropologist, physician and politician delivered her first health lecture on a visit to her aunt's house, when, disturbed by the presence of free range fowls, 'told everyone about fowl diseases and the building and siting of fowl runs'. (59)

Emere's faced serious difficulties getting an education. After her rejection of her father's choice of suitor in 1915, he withdrew his financial support for her schooling. However, with the support of the principal of Hukarere, Emere was able to go to Rotorua where she joined the Anglican Mission House as one of two Maori students trained to help Maori parishioners at the Whakarewarewa and Ohinemutu villages. It was this experience that strengthened her resolve to pursue a career in nursing. After a second and public rejection of her father's choice of suitor, she moved to Christchurch in 1921, where she took a midwifery course at Essex House, a welfare home for pregnant girls and homeless women. In 1925 Emere was accepted for a four-year nursing course at Dunedin Hospital. As the only Maori trainee, she found herself under a lot of pressure. On her first day the matron, a Miss Tennant, called her into her office and told her that she was the only Maori on the course and she would have to work twice as hard to succeed. As Emere remembered it, she, 'did work hard--very hard'. (60) However, one month before her final examinations, Emere was diagnosed as having tuberculosis, an occupational risk for nurses. She spent the next two years of her life recovering from the effects of this disease in the Pleasant Valley Sanatorium before returning to complete her finals in 1930 with a mark of 98 per cent. (61) Recognising Emere's potential, Miss Mary Lambie, the Director of Nursing in Dunedin, suggested that Emere apply for a Sister's position at King George Hospital in Rotorua in 1931. There Emere took charge of the annex, drawing on Plunket principles of infant care and acquiring a reputation for her firmness as she insisted on fresh air for babies even in winter. She also established good relations with the local Maori community. On her visits to local marae she encouraged women to consider hospital births and to adopt regular feeding schedules for babies. (62)

Emere's interest in Maori health and education led her in March 1935 to an involvement in a home science programme to teach Maori women health, hygiene, and arts and crafts so that they would, in turn, teach other Maori women through the native schools. The programme, developed by Professor Ann Gilchrist Strong, then head of the Faculty of Home Science at Otago University aimed to improve health and social conditions for Maori by educating mothers in the rules of protective hygiene and simple, effective ways to ward of infectious diseases. (63) In many ways this 'home science' initiative was a mission made to order for the founding generation of home scientists in New Zealand. Supported by funding of 100 [pounds sterling] supplied by the Carnegie Corporation, the programme was established under the auspices of Dr Duncan Cook, Director of Health for North Auckland and Miss Lambie, by then Director of the Division of School Hygiene. (64) Emere, whose nursing credentials were already known to Miss Lambie and whose reputation for health work among Maori was growing, was selected for a scholarship to complete a year long course in Home Science at Otago University. (65) In 1936 Professor Strong toured North Auckland, visiting local district nurses and remote rural communities so that she could gain an understanding of 'the conditions prevailing among Maori'. (66) In the same year, she participated in a Conference on Maori Health and Education called by Michael Joseph Savage, the new Labour Prime Minister in preparation for establishing the new programme.

The next phase of the programme involved implementing the practical and social aspects of the education curriculum envisaged by the 1933 revised curriculum for Native Schools. 'Miss Kaa was placed at the disposal of the Education Department from February to May 1936'. Cast as a 'Maori apostle of Home Science [chosen] to carry the principles of modern housekeeping to her race', (67) Emere visited sixteen native schools on her tour, meeting parents, giving adult lectures at the schools and on the marae. At one meeting in Mangamuka as many as 200 people attended. (68) At each school she visited, she did health checks on the children and spoke about the importance of personal hygiene. Emere taught about disease prevention, encouraged children to clean their teeth using cloth and salt, instead of toothbrushes which were expensive, and promoted milk as a beneficial food. (69) As one principal reported it:
 As a Ngatiporou [sic] Ngati Porou] of blue blood, Miss Kaa has
 'gone over big'. Miss Kaa has been able to approach them on their
 own ground and in their own language. More enthusiasm has been
 aroused in the last week than any Pakeha would arouse in years.

Ngahua Hau Te Pau, who was twelve at the time, recalls, 'We all thought that she was lovely and so softly spoken, in Maori too'. (71)

Despite its apparent success among Maori, the 'home science' programme did not continue. Schools took on the teaching of home science subjects while District Nurses continued to take responsibility for health issues in Maori communities. (72) At a time when most Maori were isolated from, and thus effectively excluded from a health care system which was beginning to improve health and decrease infant mortality among the general population, Emere continued with her health work among Maori. (73) She became a district nurse in Kaikohe working with the sick and with pregnant women in remote isolated areas. A kuia remembers Nurse Kaa attending the birth of her third child:
 We sent for the nurse. She was Nurse Kaa then. She came down. She
 used to ride on a horse. Then she said ... my baby was all right.
 He was only a few days before time. He had yellow jaundice but she
 said that it would go away in a few days ... We didn't go to
 hospital so I don't know whether any others went to the hospital
 and had to pay ... But I know that most of the mothers, they all
 had babies at home. (74)

Concerned by the dangers facing pregnant women in remote areas, Emere began a fund encouraging women to put in a penny a week so that they could afford a taxi to take them to the hospital when they were full term. She worked with village communities and tribal councils encouraging Maori to form Red Cross groups and Maori women to join the local Women's Institutes. In 1937 she was awarded the Coronation Medal for Services to the Community. Although she resigned from district nursing in 1939 to marry Walter Clapham Mountain, she continued to be known as 'Nurse Kaa'. She and her husband owned a taxi which acted as ambulance for twelve years, with Emere's medical bag never out of the boot. (75)

Emere Kaa's career constitutes a good example of the opportunities provided by household science outside university walls for a strong willed, resilient, innovative and highly educated woman. Unique among of her largely Pakeha contemporaries in home science, Emere drew on her Maori inheritance and western 'Pakeha' models of education and health to become one of a small group of pioneer nurses and educators of the mid-twentieth century who worked to improve the health, education and social conditions of Maori in remote rural communities in New Zealand. (76) As a health educator to Maori she was able to approach people on their own ground and in their own language. As a district nurse she worked with the sick and pregnant women living in isolated rural communities offering them the 'advantages' of western medical progress. In later years she became a Justice of the Peace and an active member of the Kawakawa Anglican Church. She was a teacher of first aid to Girl Guides for many years. Emere was awarded the Queens Service Order (QSO) in 1979.

Glorified housekeepers or pioneering professionals?

The majority of women who graduated with a home science qualification were white, middle class and among the educated elite. Many of them, including Neige Todhunter and Ann Gilchrist Strong, shared with political and social reformers of the era, an ethnocentrism that uncritically promoted prevailing assumptions about the superiority of contemporary western middle-class culture and social values. Yet it is important to acknowledge the significance of their efforts to improve the health and welfare of those suffering the consequences of poverty and isolation at a time when many education and health programmes in the United States and New Zealand were influenced by Social Darwinist attitudes which justified a laissez-faire approach by evoking natural selection and 'survival of the fittest'. (77) Some historians, when considering the impact of home science programmes, have criticised what they see as a social control model that attempts to impose the values and practices of the middle-class on the working class poor, on Maori and on other ethnic groups in the name of amelioration and reform. (78) One problem with this criticism is that it demonises reformers for attitudes pervasive in the culture, ignoring the agency of women like Emere Kaa who used 'western' knowledge about health to promote the wellbeing of Maori in remote communities, thus subverting many contemporary social control strategies and empowering her people.

An examination of the careers of Neige Todhunter and Emere Kaa illustrates the importance of considering the scientific, professional and socio-cultural dimensions of household science. It is clear from their life histories that neither Neige nor Emere envisaged the Faculty of Home Science as primarily a training school for glorified housekeepers or as a vocational institute for school teachers. These enterprising women created career opportunities for themselves and by doing so helped to open new avenues of professional employment for home science graduates in the expanding fields of household science in academic, educational and health settings. As Sarah Stage notes, while household scientists have themselves grown more introspective and self-critical about their contributions, historians of women, still experiencing firsthand in the 2000s the frustrations and excitement of creating women's enclaves within and outside university walls, have grown less dismissive of the women who struggled against difficulties to create professional and academic opportunities in a previous century. (79)


Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland

(1) M. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: struggles and strategies to 1940, Baltimore, The John Hopkins University Press, 1982.

(2) K. Tolley, The Science Education of American Girls: a historical perspective, New York, RoutledgeFalmer, 2003.

(3) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(4) S. Le-May Sheffield, Women and Science: social impact and integration, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2004.

(5) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(6) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(7) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(8) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(9) M. Nerad, The Academic Kitchen: a social history of gender stratification at the University of California, Berkeley, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1999.

(10) W. MacDonald, Footprints of Kate Edger: a history of the New Zealand Federation of University Women 1921-81, Auckland, New Zealand Federation of University Women, 1982. Canterbury College, affiliated to the University of New Zealand in 1874 also accepted women students.

(11) Numbers of women at the University of New Zealand grew from small beginnings in 1874, with one student (Kate Edger) in 1874 to 32 in 1884 and 70 by 1894. 743 women are listed as undergraduates in the years between 1872 and 1895, 35 per cent of the total enrolment. University of New Zealand, Register of Undergraduates 1872-1895, AAMJ 3119/258.

(12) Nerad, The Academic Kitchen, p. 28.

(13) See E. Gregory, School of Home Science History, 1911-1961, Dunedin, University of Otago, 1962; Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(14) S. Coney, Standing in the Sunshine: a history of New Zealand women since they won the vote, Auckland, Penguin Books, 1993.

(15) C. Manthorpe, 'Science or domestic science?: the struggle to define an appropriate science education for girls in early twentieth-century England', History of Education 15, no. 3, 1986, pp. 195-213.

(16) Nellie G. Chad to Lady Stout 22 March, 1917 MS-260 Hocken library, University of Otago (hereafter DU).

(17) M. Nolan, 'Putting the state in its place: the domestic education debate in New Zealand', History of Education, vol. 30, no. 1, 2001, pp. 13-33.

(18) John Studholme was a Canterbury farmer and philanthropist. Dr F.C Batchelor was a lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology in the University of Otago. Dr Truby King, best known as the founder of the Plunket Society (The Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children), argued that women's natural functions as mothers would be impaired by the rigours of study and commercial and academic life.

(19) A.M. Gilchrist Strong, History of the Development of University Education in Home Science in New Zealand 1911-1936, Dunedin, University of Otago, 1937.

(20) Studhome had initially proposed to endow a chair of domestic science at Canterbury College, but Ann Gilchrist, who was offered the chair of the new department was unable to take up the position as she was about to marry.

(21) Colonel Studholme to Sir James Allen, 22 May 1909, cited in Strong, History of the Development of University Education, p. 4.

(22) J.C. Beaglehole, The University of New Zealand: an historical study, Auckland, New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1937, p. 259.

(23) At a meeting of the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children, held in Dunedin, 19 May, 1909, addresses strongly supporting Colonel Studholme's proposals were given by Dr F.C. Batchelor and Dr Truby King. The newspapers printed the addresses in full along with comments both for and against. Strong, History of Home Science at Otago, p. 6.

(24) For an analysis of the contribution of Boys Smith and that of the first four women professors of home science, see T. Fitzgerald, 'An absent presence: women professors at the University of New Zealand, 19111961', Journal of Educational Administration and History, vol. 39, no. 3, 2007, pp. 239-53, T. Fitzgerald, 'Academic housework? women professors at the University of New Zealand 1911-1961', New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 42, no. 1 and 2, 2007, pp. 115-28.

(25) Winifred Boys-Smith, 'Syllabus of Classes for the Degree and Diploma in Home Science', University of Otago, c1910s, p.3. MS 260, DU.

(26) The associate was Helen Rawson, a graduate of Newnham College, Cambridge, who was appointed by Winifred Boys Smith and accompanied her from England in 1911. Strong, History of Home Science at Otago, p. 10.

(27) Nerad, The Academic Kitchen.

(28) J. Collins, 'Beyond the domestic sphere? a home science education at the University of New Zealand, 1911-1936'. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference 2007, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

(29) H.S. Wechsler, 'An academic Gresham's Law: group repulsion as a theme in American higher education', Teachers College Record, vol. 82, no. 4, 1981, pp. 3-24.

(30) During the first four years of the School's existence, some students lived in Professor Boys Smith's home. In 1915 Studholme House (later called 'Lower Studholme') provided both a residential college and a place for training in housekeeping. Gregory, School of Home Science History, 1911-1961, University of Otago, Dunedin.

(31) Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(32) A.G. Strong, 'Lectures on household arts', Baroda, Vidyadhikari Office, c1917, p. 10.

(33) See also Nerad, The Academic Kitchen; Rossiter, Struggles and Strategies to 1940.

(34) For an analysis of the career pathways of home science graduates in the years 1911 to 1931 see Collins, 'Beyond the domestic sphere'.

(35) M. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: before affirmative action 1940-1972, Baltimore, The John Hopkins University Press, 1995.

(36) Elizabeth Gregory, a graduate of home science at Otago, became Professor and Head of the School of Home Science in the years 1941-1961. Fitzgerald, 'An absent presence'.

(37) See also R. Heap, 'From the science of housekeeping to the science of nutrition: pioneers in Canadian nutrition and dietetics at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Household Science', in E. Smyth, E. Smyth, S. Acker, P. Bourne and A. Prentice (eds), Challenging Professions: historical and contemporary perspectives on women's professional work, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1999, pp. 141-70.

(38) Heap, Challenging Professions

(39) K.W. McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)', Journal of Nutrition, 123, 1993, pp. 603-09.

(40) In 1924 after a recruiting drive by Professor Strong to the United States, Dr Lilian Storms, took up a lecturing position in Chemistry and Nutrition and Gladys McGill, B.Sc M.A. was appointed to Textiles and Clothing. They both remained for three years. Strong, History of Home Science at Otago.

(41) L. Storms and E.N. Todhunter, 'The adequacy of some New Zealand dietaries', Journal of Home Economics, 20, 1928, pp. 817-24.

(42) H.C. Sherman, (1875-1955), food chemist, spent the bulk of his career at Columbia University (1899-1946) where he taught and researched aspects of food and nutrition. During the 1920s and 1930s, his pioneering research focused on the study of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C.

(43) H.C. Sherman and E.N Todhunter, 'The determination of vitamin a by a method of single feedings', Journal of Nutrition, 8, 1934, pp. 347-57.

(44) McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)'.

(45) E.N Todhunter, T. McMillan, and D.A. Ehmke, 'Utilization of dehydroascorbic acid by human subjects', Journal of Nutrition, 42, 1950, pp. 297-308.

(46) D Thomson, 'Women scientists in engineering, food technology, home science, clothing research'. MS Papers--7617-09, DU.

(47) E.N. Todhunter, 'Child feeding programs and the school lunch program', Journal of American Dietetic Association, 24, 1948, pp. 422-30, E.N Todhunter and W.J. Darby, 'Guidelines for maintaining adequate nutrition in old age', Geriatrics, 33, no. 6, 1978, pp. 49-56.

(48) McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)', p. 605.

(49) M. McKenzie, 'Elizabeth Neige Todhunter', Journal of the Association of Home Science Alumnae, New Zealand XXVII, 1958, p. 20.

(50) J.A. Eagles, F.P. Orrea and C.M. Taylor, Mary Swartz Rose, 1874-1941: pioneer in nutrition, New York, Teachers' College Press, 1979.

(51) McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)', p. 606.

(52) McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)'.

(53) See Heap, 'From the science of housekeeping to the science of nutrition'.

(54) For example Lucy Sprague, Marion Talbot, Alice Norton. See Nerad, The Academic Kitchen.

(55) McNutt, 'E. Neige Todhunter (1901-1991)'.

(56) D. Thomson, 'Women scientists in engineering, food technology, home science, clothing research'. MS Papers-7617-09, DU.

(57) Emere's story as told here is compiled from 'The written and spoken memoirs from Emere Mountain' cited in Coney, Standing in the Sunshine, pp. 102-03.

(58) Emere was listed on the school roll in 1914 as 'Emire Carr'. She was the first of a 'Kaa dynasty' to attend Hukarere College. See K. Jenkins and K. Morris Matthews, Hukarere and the Politics of Maori Girls' Schooling, Palmerston North, Dunmore Press, 1995.

(59) Coney, Standing in the Sunshine, p. 102.

(60) 'The written and spoken memoirs of Emere Kaa' cited in Ibid.

(61) In 1933, the Health Department finally cited TB as an occupational threat to nurses. However it was not until 1948 that vaccination was offered to nurses--it had been available since 1922. On a personal note: my mother was 'exposed' (without vaccination) to TB during her training when she nursed TB patients (including my father) in the late 1940s at Pleasant Valley Sanatorium

(62) Sir Frederick Truby King established the Plunket Society in 1907 to apply scientific principles to the raising of babies and children. His methods emphasised regularity of feeding, sleeping and bowel movements, within a generally strict regime supposed to build character by avoiding cuddling and other attention. The Plunket movement was strongly rooted in notions of eugenics and patriotism. See L. Bryder, 'New Zealand Infant Welfare Services and Maori, 1907-1960', Health and History, 2001, pp. 65-86.

(63) N. Tomes, 'Spreading the germ theory: sanitary science and home economics, 1880-1930', in S. Stage and V.B. Vincenti (eds), Rethinking Home Economics, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1997, pp. 34-54.

(64) Historically the Department of Health, rather than the Plunket Society (as elsewhere) had controlled infant health among Maori and some isolated European communities. Bryder, 'New Zealand infant welfare services and Maori, 1907-1960'.

(65) Strong, History of Home Science at Otago.

(66) Strong, History of Home Science at Otago, p. 38.

(67) New Zealand Free Lance, 2 October 1935, p.18, BAAA1001/142a. Maori Schools, National Archives (hereafter NA) Auckland.

(68) L. Forbes, 'Report on the visit of Miss Kaa to Mangamuka School'. BAAA1001/142a. Maori Schools, NA.

(69) 'H Snelling and J Thomson to Mr Ball',7 May 1936. BAAA1001/142a. Maori Schools, NA.

(70) 'Snelling and J Thomson to Mr Ball,7 May 1936. BAAA1001/142a. Maori Schools, NA.

(71) S. Coney. 'Communication from Ngahue Te Paa, December 1992'. Ngahue was at Te Rawhiti Native School in May 1936. cited in Coney, Standing in the Sunshine, p. 103.

(72) In Kaitaia in Northland, a predominantly Maori area, the whole population was served by two district nurses. Bryder, 'New Zealand infant welfare services and Maori'.

(73) Bryder, 'New Zealand infant welfare services and Maori'.

(74) H.M. Harte, 'Home births to hospital births: interviews with Maori women who had their babies in the 1930s', Health and History, 3, 2001, p. 102.

(75) Coney, Standing in the Sunshine.

(76) The number of Maori students completing Home Science degrees has yet to be researched. Few Maori names are found in lists of graduates of the School of Home Science. However, some may be listed under European names e.g. Emere Kaa was also known as Emily Carr.

(77) See Bryder, 'New Zealand infant welfare services and Maori'.

(78) See C. Harris, 'Grace under pressure: the Black home extension service in South Carolina, 1919-1966', in Stage and Vincenti, Rethinking Home Economics, pp. 203-28.

(79) S. Stage, 'Introduction--home economics: what's in a name?', in Stage and Vincenti, Rethinking Home Economics, pp. 1-16.

Dr Jenny Collins is a lecturer in the School of Education, Unitec Institute of Technology, where she teaches in the post-graduate leadership and management programmes. Her research interests include the professional lives of women in higher education and policy relationships between state and Catholic educational leaders. In 2006 she won the New Zealand Administration and Leadership Society's President's Research Award for meritorious research and scholarship. She is currently researching the professional lives of graduates of the School of Home Science and women academics from the University of New Zealand.

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Author:Collins, Jenny
Publication:History of Education Review
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Date:Jul 1, 2008
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