Rediscover history

November 5, 2013


Zoë Sofia’s essay Container Technologies discusses the place of containers in the history of technology. Sofia, and Lewis Mumford, to whom she often refers, argues that containers, or utensils as Mumford calls them, have been given unfairly little attention by writers of the history of technology. This is supposedly to do with the fact that these technologies are generally associated with women (both in the sense of being mostly used by women, and in being themselves considered feminine).

It is very interesting to consider the role of history writing in shaping our view of women and technology, as well as women in architecture. Both architecture and technology are, at least historically, but to some extent still, considered male areas of expertise. This is perhaps most commonly explained by saying that societal structures have stopped women from engaging in these matters.

While this is certainly true, the idea of architecture as male is also perpetuated women’s contributions being overlooked and undervalued when we record architectural history. We can probably all agree that our historiography is biased in favour of the Beaux-Art educated, male architect, rather than the people, of both genders, who have constructed buildings for their own use throughout time, all over the world.

With all this in mind, the power tool I am offering myself this week is awareness of my own blindness towards women’s historical and contemporary contributions to architecture. Once I have acquired this awareness, I should try to increase my knowledge of such contributions, and most importantly, instill them with as much value and importance as the male contributions better recorded by history.


Malin Ahlgren Bergman



Zoe Sofia, ‘Container Technologies’ in Hypatia Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2000, pp. 181-200.

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