Book Review: Mother of Invention - How Good Ideas Get Ignored in a World Built for Men by Katrine Marçal


Book cover.

Every day, extraordinary inventions and innovative ideas are side-lined in a world that remains subservient to men. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Instead, ingrained ideas about men and women continue to shape our economic decisions; favouring men and leading us to the same tired set of solutions. For too long we have underestimated the consequences of sexism in our economy, and the way it holds all of us - women and men - back.

This is a cracking book. Similar in scope to Invisible Women and Feminist City, it takes (justified) aim at the way the world has deliberately excluded half the population from consideration.

It's a quick and entertaining read - if a little infuriating at times. I'm sure the book could have been ten-times as long and still not covered half the problems. It brings home just how many "simple" inventions are ignored because they don't fix problems for "real men".

Some of the examples were familiar to me - but all of them were shocking. The patriarchy has a real inability to grasp the utility of anything outside its narrow concerns.

I'm going to pick one little nit - as I love following footnotes. I think Marçal is being slightly unfair to former President George W Bush (not a sentence I'd previously considered typing). I think she mischaracterises his speech "Islam is Peace". Marçal contends that Bush called on the American people to "go shopping’. In the context of his speech, he was specifically referencing that Hijabis were being abused when going shopping:

I've been told that some fear to leave; some don't want to go shopping for their families; some don't want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraid they'll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

It ends with a good rant about the long term consequences of this thinking. While it is true that 妇女能顶半边天, we are currently holding back half the potential of society. This is something which needs to radically change.