Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed For Men

Caroline Criado Pérez

Category: Social Sciences 

Rating: 8/10

Caroline Criado Pérez is a best-selling and award-winning writer, broadcaster, feminist and human rights activist. She is published across the major national media and appears in both print and broadcast as a commentator on a wide range of topics. She looks at feminism not with the view that we should all be given things in equal amounts but in the way that we should all have an equal opportunity and a level playing field. 

In this work, she takes a hard, unbiased look at the presence of gender inequality in everyday life, from a purely data-driven standpoint. This book has opened my eyes to everyday injustices. Injustices that come about as a result of a world designed for and by men. Disparities that we are so blind to because we are conditioned to look at things from a male perspective or to put men first. The same can be said for those who design for our world.

Although there has been much debate around gender gaps, it is hard to ignore facts and statistics. In this book, Pèrez has consolidated an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from around the world that illustrate the ‘hidden’ ways in which women have been, and are, forgotten. She highlights the effects of this on their health and well-being and makes a compelling case for change. This book exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge which is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and how that gap has created a pervasive but invisible bias. This bias has a profound effect on the lives of women.

From government policy and medical research, technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the bias-based data that excludes women.

Information that stood out most included the fact that most medicine is not tested on women. The reason given is that a woman’s hormones would affect how medicine works and skew the results. Surely this would be valuable information considering that medicine is used by both men and women? Another fact that I have never stopped before to consider, is that crash test dummies are modelled after men and vehicle safety standards are set for the male body. Things such as a woman’s structure and pregnancy are not taken into account. Having to sit nearer to the steering wheel, women are at more risk of dying from the impact of a crash. Why don’t we move the pedals closer to the person rather than bringing the seat forward, into the danger zone? Because it is not a danger to men, for whom cars were designed and in most cases, by whom they were designed.

These are only two examples from this book that really struck me. And what struck me more was my initial reaction. I thought, ‘why would they change it?’. The world doesn’t work that way. That is the way that we have been conditioned to think and it is so deeply ingrained in our being.   

My favourite quote from Invisible Women

“There is no such thing as a woman who doesn’t work. There is only a woman who isn’t paid for her work.”

― Caroline Criado-Pérez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

There are so many thought-provoking quotes from this book but this one sums them all up, in a succinct way. A woman’s work, opinion and worth are not missing. They are just not taken into account or appreciated as valid. 

Who should read this book?

This book is a great read for anyone. Both men and women would benefit largely from reading this book. It’s extremely valuable for both genders to recognise the gender-data gap and the privileges or disadvantages that come with it. It is also an incredible tool to improve a woman’s view of themselves and the imposter syndrome that they carry. 

Pèrez highlights some important points to keep front of mind as well as practical steps to implement in your own life to do your part in bridging the gap. 

To find out more and get the perspective of the author, we recommend you listen to the podcast here

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