Mother of Invention: How Good Ideas Get Ignored in an Economy Built for Men

Katrine Marçal, trans. from the Swedish by Alex Fleming. Abrams, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5804-1
Innovation takes a long time because people tend to create with only men in mind, argues journalist Marçal (Who Cooked Adam Smith Dinner) in this quirky treatise. Needs that are coded as “female” fall by the wayside as “frivolous,” she argues, which has limited the scope of invention: it took decades to put wheels on suitcases, for instance, because it was assumed that men would never be willing to appear in public using an assist, and cars powered by electricity were thought up as early as the beginning of the 20th century but were never mass-produced since they were seen as only suitable for women (men hand-cranked a starter). By telling a history of technology that includes “women’s tools,” Marçal writes, “the entire narrative we hold, both about ourselves, the economy, and the world, becomes something else”—if, for example, humans’ first tools were digging sticks rather than hunting tools, “it is no longer as clear that humanity’s inventions must always seek to crush, dominate, and exploit.” Told in a conversational tone, this feminist directive—if a little heavy on the focus of gender imperative—fascinates with its wealth of historical tidbits. Fans of Caroline Criado-Perez’s Invisible Women, take note. Agent: Katie Cacouris, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/26/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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