Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Published by Abrams Press on March 7th, 2019
Genres: Feminism, Non-Fiction, Science, Sociology, Technology
“The fact is that worth is a matter of opinion, and opinion is informed by culture. And if that culture is as male-biased as ours is, it can’t help but be biased against women. By default.”
Collected statistics proving that women are underserved in the world? Yes, please! This is my kind of book.
In Invisible Women, Perez shows us how in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap — a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women.
I’ve closely followed Perez online for quite some time now.
I was first introduced to her through her activism—she campaigned to have the first statue of a woman (Millicent Fawcett) in Parliament Square and helped get a Jane Austen on the £10 note in the UK!
This book was illuminating and also very frustrating to read. Perez presented new studies, statistics, and ideas that I had never even heard of before.
And if there were things that I’d read about before, she had a new spin to them that made them interesting and encouraged me to think more critically of the situation and the world around me.
Right off the bat, I had no idea that snow ploughing could have a gender bias! And with other chapters, I found myself nodding along. For example, the chapter that discusses how things aren’t built for women’s hands. I felt that especially when she mentioned how piano keys are built for people with bigger hands (read: men).
After I read this, I sat with my thoughts for a little while. I mean, the world, society, and its systems are built against women. We live in a world where our phones are too big for our hands, our doctors prescribe us drugs that are wrong for us, and every week the countless hours of work we do are not recognised or valued.
There is no such thing as a woman who doesn’t work. There is only a woman who isn’t paid for her work.
I think this book is key for inclusive and intersectional feminism. It brings up so many fascinating and important discussions to be had.
And I really appreciated that Perez didn’t just complain about the the state of the world. She brought forth actionable solutions to fix things.
Yes, it was depressing to read some of the case studies and testimonials, but Perez also makes light of the fact that change can occur. It can happen and we are a powerful force to be reckoned with.
So with all this praise, why not give this book 5 bubble teas? Well, I have to say that this book was teeming with statistics. Almost every other sentence was a statistic backed with a footnote. And I get it, these statistics are important to read. But at times, I felt like I was drowning in numbers.
I also would’ve appreciated if Perez’s voice shined through more often. It felt very aloof and hands off for most of it. There were only a handful of times where you could see she was getting cheeky and snarky, like in this quote:
You’ve played games as a blue hedgehog. As a cybernetically augmented space marine. As a sodding dragon-tamer… but the idea that women can be protagonists with an inner life and an active nature is somehow beyond your imaginative capacities?
I actually laughed out loud and made sure to highlight this quote to share with my friends. Overall, this was fantastic and I urge everybody to read it!
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