The Electrical Association for Women, educating women

The EAW educated women about electricity, acted as an advisory body and encouraged women to be consumers of electrical apparatus. The IET Archives holds extensive records relating to the EAW.

The EAW's primary function was to educate women about the domestic use of electricity. Initially, it illustrated about the labour saving use of electrical appliances through a series of demonstrations and lectures. Branch Presidents held demonstrations in their homes and Dame Caroline constantly travelled in Britain and abroad providing advice and inspiration.

Interest quickly spread and as the number of branches grew the EAW, realising that if women's opinions on electrical matters were to carry weight they needed to be informed established examinations on two levels (diplomas and certificates) for demonstrators and teachers. 

These became recognised qualifications. A Diploma in Electrical Housecraft was offered at Battersea Polytechnic and in 1933 the Electrical Housecraft School, presenting a model labour-saving kitchen, was opened at the EAW's home in Kensington Court. The school demonstrated various systems of lighting and heating as well as many types of switches, plugs and outlets. 

Labour-saving kitchen at the EAW Housecraft School 1933

Demonstrator's Circles were formed and it was established as a career with status. As the national electricity grid grew, so too did the demand for Demonstrators - the EAW ensured that this demand was met.

In 1926, the EAW published the first edition of its journal, "The Electrical Age" to keep women up to date with relevant developments, without much technical information. It also served to introduce leading women, report on EAW events, provide 'helpful hints for homemakers' and inform about educational opportunities. Board of Education Summer Schools for teachers were begun in 1930.

In 1936, the EAW Home Workers certificate was established, later being replaced by the Electricity for Everyday Living course. The Electrical Handbook, first published in 1934, became a recognised textbook for training purposes, and went through many editions and revisions.

EAW Demonstration kitchen in Kensington

The Bristol branch successfully built an "All-Electric House" for less than £1000. The project aimed to encourage women to ask that electric equipment should be included in the price of a house and to stimulate a greater interest in general design, construction and wiring. A number of pamphlets and plays described the workings of electrical apparatus and phenomenon of electricity.

In 1945, the Women's First Electrical Exhibition was organised to honour the 21st birthday of the EAW and to illustrate the great part played by women and the electrical supply industry in winning the war.

The Caroline Haslett Trust (later the Caroline Haslett Memorial Trust) formed an important part of EAW work. It was launched in 1945 to mark the association's 21st anniversary and to honour its first director. The Trust Fund was set up to provide scholarships in domestic science and to finance travelling exhibitions. The CHMT extends this work by including university scholarships and other educational opportunities to help women seeking careers in the electricity industry.