Cookery and boys


Housecraft and Home Economics exams and gender issues

The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 required schools to provide access to the study of all subjects in the curriculum for both sexes. However, studies later showed that despite the government requirement for boys and girls to have equal opportunities when choosing their practical subjects, boys were actively discouraged from taking the subject by their teachers, peers and parents.

In a report on ‘Gender roles and the curriculum boys and home economics’ published in 1983, Susan Johne strongly criticised the strong female bias of the home economics textbooks, and questions set for the exams. Her report showed how boys change their mind when they discovered that so many girls took the subject and that it was considered cissy to cook.

Here are some exam questions from the time that reinforce the role of the woman as cook, caterer and cleaner for her husband and family. Remember these questions were given to boys and girls for their practical and theory exam and I had to persuade them that it was old fashioned, but things would change!

In 1981 only 7% of boys were entered for exams in domestic subjects.

Teachers at the time are not allowed to set their own CSE home economics practical tests.

Practical Cookery exam questions from 1970s
1. Your brother and a friend are playing football. Prepare, cook and serve a substantial meal for them on their return home. You are all going out for the evening. Iron the shirt your brother will wear and sponge and press either the skirt or trousers that you will wear.

2. Your father and brother are going fishing for the day. Launder your father’s sweater. Leave to dry and press it if it dries in time. Make some meat pasties or pies and pack up with salad and fruit and a flask of coffee for their picnic meal. Cook and serve a substantial two course dinner ready for their return.

MREB 1974 Metropolitan Regional Examinations Board

Cookery Theory questions 1970s

1. Many families have a home freezer. It helps the working mother to cater for the family’s needs. Discuss how she could prepare dishes to freeze and fill the freezer. 1979

2. List 3 different places where the housewife can purchase meat for her freezer. How can the home freezer be of value to a family when the mother is out at work? 1980

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