The Utensil and the Tool
Making Definitions Gender Inclusive
Keywords:Philosophy of Technology, Utensils, Tools, Gender, Carl Mitcham
In Thinking through technology, Carl Mitcham puts forward his philosophical framework on technology in four aspects; objects, activities, knowledge and volition (Mitcham, 1994). When describing technology as objects, he presents a 'slightly modified and enlarged' list by Lewis Mumford (1934) specifying 'some basic types of technology as object' (Mitcham, 1994, pg. 162). By dividing the body of technological objects into clothes, utensils, structures, apparatus, utilities, tools, machines, and automata, I argue that these divisions and descriptions of the objects will create gendered perceptions of technological objects. One example of this is the dichotomy of utensils as objects used inside the home, and tools as objects usually used outside the home. In this research paper, I intend to discuss these conceptualizations of the philosophy of technology as expressed by Carl Mitcham, with the aim of finding more gender inclusive definitions of the utensil and the tool. Technology and masculinity have been closely intertwined for a long time and can partly be traced to women's exclusion from the labour market. Despite numerous initiatives in the past of enhancing women's attitudes, interest or will to pursue technology the gender balance in the field has remained none or little affected. I argue that without an inclusive philosophy to rely on, the field of technology will continue to exclude half of the earth's population. By discussing Mitcham's philosophy of technology as object, examine contemporary definitions, and elaborate on alternative conceptualizations, I will supplement this framework that has been of great importance to educators and philosophers of technology.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Louise Björlin Svozil
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