The Gender of Things: New Book by Maria Rentetzi

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‘Certain things, such as ships, have long been gendered but these were thought of as exceptions to the general rule of neutrality: a thing is an “it,” not a “she” or a “he.” This eye-opening book shows how widespread the gendering of things actually is — and not just the things of everyday life but the things of science. From the sealing wax and string of the laboratory to genealogical databases, The Gender of Things reveals the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that the things of science and technology can be made masculine or feminine.’
– Lorraine Daston, Director emerita, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany


The Gender of Things is a highly interdisciplinary book that explores the power relationship between gender and the material culture of technoscience, addressing a seemingly straightforward question: How does a thing—such as a spacesuit, a humanoid robot, or a surgical instrument—become a gendered object?

These 14 short chapters cover an original selection of “things”: from cosmeceuticals to early motor scooters, from Scrum boards to border walls, and from robots to the human body and its parts. By historically examining how significance has been attached to specific things and how things were designed and produced, the chapters reveal how the concept of gender has been embedded and finds expression in the material world of science and technology. With insights from science and technology studies (STS), anthropology, the history of ergonomics, museum studies, the history of science, technology, and medicine but also the philosophy and sociology of technology and feminist new materialism, this collection reminds us that our material creations not only bear knowledge about our world.

The Gender of Things will be of key interest to undergraduate and graduate students and research scholars of STS as well as gender studies.