The Sexist Trowel

Posted on September 8, 2013


Sometimes you see things that just make you think ‘you have got to be kidding me’. In this case it was the ‘women’s trowel by archtools’ (not posting a link because they don’t deserve the link juice to boost their stores google search rank). @DrKillgrove posted a response to this last week in her great post ‘Archaeology… for the Ladies‘. If you didn’t read her post about the “women’s trowel” you should. Her words were dead on

‘Think about that: a trowel just for me!  Who knew that after nearly 20 years doing archaeology, I had been using the wrong kind of tool this entire time.’

and her image was classic.

While Dr Killgrove did an excellent job with sarcasm I am going to take a minute to discuss the false advertising (also known as misleading the customer or lying). Here is the description from the website-

“The women’s archaeology trowel has a sharpened 11cm blade (125mm, 4.5 inches) with double edges 1.2 mm thick. So sharp, it can slice through tree roots..
This is the world’s first archaeology trowel designed with women in mind, or archaeologists with small hands. Developed as a joint venture between and Battiferro di Maniago after feedback from customers and leading archaeologists from around the world.

The trowel features a natural hardwood bulbous handle, smaller in size than regular archaeological trowels and reduced width to allow increased grip. The smaller tang decreases hand fatigue and strain on the wrist and fingers. Field tests by female archaeologists, students and amateurs alike have all reported that the trowel reduces palm blistering and has increased comfort over regular archaeological trowels they’ve sampled.
Manufactured by Battiferro di Maniago S.N.C and exclusively distributed in the UK by Archtools.”

There is NO Joint Venture

Alright so sexism aside this is non-sense. You can see the “Women’s Trowel” on the Battiferro di Maniago website were, get this, it is called a ‘Art. 289.A – Wood handle‘. While that is a boring name for a trowel it is not a trowel specially made for women. Apparently, Battiferro the maker of the trowel, was not aware they had a joint venture to make a women’s trowel…. is someone lying here or just not proud of their women’s trowel?

Facts, who needs them?

Even if it was a specially made tool the very concept is insulting and not based on any physical needs-

The average length of an adult male hand is 189 mm, while the average length of an adult female hand is 172 mm. The average hand breadth for adult males and females is 84 and 74 mm respectively.

One cm difference in length can be found between different men’s hands as much as between men and women’s hands. There is no denying that there are different size hands and different preferences for handle size but labeling women’s hands as needing special trowels is not based on any significant physical differences.

Smaller What?

A smaller tang? A smaller tang!

‘The smaller tang decreases hand fatigue and strain on the wrist and fingers.’ What are they talking about? It is exactly the same as their other trowels but with a wooden handle. As far as I can tell from the images, the measurements on the Battiferro website, and on the archtools website the tang is no shorter or longer than other Battiferro trowels. This is marketing at its absolute worse. It’s like saying look our trowels have handles, oohhh don’t see that too often on trowels. Moreover, how would a smaller tang decrease hand fatigue and strain on the wrist and fingers? Not being sarcastic here. I really want to know this. It doesn’t seem plausible to me.

This is both complete and utter crap and very sexist. Whoever is running archtools is trying to sell snake oil in the form of wooden handle trowels, “with shorten tangs”. Yet, at the same time they are putting down the very customers they are trying to sell to by implying they are too small and weak to handle a real trowel. Bravo archtools, Bravo.

Posted in: Wildcard