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Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

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Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman. Invisible Women shows us how, in Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman. Invisible Women 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. Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.


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Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman. Invisible Women shows us how, in Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman. Invisible Women 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. Award-winning campaigner and writer Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.

30 review for Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I really dislike conspiracy theories – in fact, few things make me angrier. The reason is that a conspiracy generally involves people plotting and planning and those people who are assumed to have the power to bring the conspiracy into effect generally have been shown in history to be pretty stupid – in fact, far too stupid to do the conspiracy and keep quiet about it. Conspiracy theories also tend to involve improbable leaps of faith along the way, you know, like the one that the US government I really dislike conspiracy theories – in fact, few things make me angrier. The reason is that a conspiracy generally involves people plotting and planning and those people who are assumed to have the power to bring the conspiracy into effect generally have been shown in history to be pretty stupid – in fact, far too stupid to do the conspiracy and keep quiet about it. Conspiracy theories also tend to involve improbable leaps of faith along the way, you know, like the one that the US government was involved in bringing down the Twin Towers at 9/11. These theories become so convoluted and improbable that eventually it would be easier to just blame aliens. But the real reason I hate conspiracy theories is that a conspiracy implies that the bad shit that happens in our world is hidden from us by powerful elites – and the fact is that the really, really bad shit in our world isn’t hidden from us at all. I think conspiracy theories have an appeal to us because they basically pardon us for our inaction. How were we supposed to do something about stuff we didn’t even know was happening? – Damn you, you evil conspirators! But really, whether it be climate change, third world debt, HIV/AIDS, American gun laws, the Iraq war, the slaughter and man-made famine in Yemen, the pollution of our oceans, referring to fossil fuels as ‘freedom fuels’ (no, I didn’t make that one up, even though I wish I had https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-rebran...) – none of this is hidden from us. None of this needs a conspiracy to explain it. All of the murder, all of the destruction, all of the ‘let’s end all life on the planet for a bit more money’ is done in broad daylight with our noses pushed right up into it. And all of this is a million times more terrifying than the idea that the US government blew up a couple of buildings. Yet we watch our nightly news, yawn, roll over and fall back to sleep. This book is about one of those non-conspiracies we sort of know about but do stuff all to fix. The way we treat women is so breathtakingly appalling it would be nice if there was some sort of conspiracy theory involved here to relieve us of our complicity. This book argues that how women are treated isn’t really due to the evil patriarchy, a bit like the Elders of Zion plotting the overthrow of the Tzar, but that how our society ignores women makes how they are treated inevitable. It says that many of the reasons that women are so badly treated in our society is because most of the people with power, most of the people who get to make the decisions that make a difference in the world, are men – and it isn’t that men consciously go out of their way to make life shit for women (even though you would have to wonder sometimes) but rather, they do this because they are men, and as such they design the world to work for them. And when that world simply doesn’t work for women, these men don’t even notice because they simply don’t inhabit the same world that women inhabit. There is no conspiracy theory required – just neglect, self-interest, and perhaps a little dose of wilful blindness based on those with power focused solely on their own needs. The author blames a lot of the problems here on gaps in the data. There were lots of things I didn’t know. I didn’t know that car crash dummies are mostly ‘male’ – particularly driver dummies – and that they are based on what you could call ‘middle man’, about the average in terms of weight and height and everything else. I didn’t know that many drugs that are often almost exclusively given to women (think antidepressants say) are often almost exclusively trialled on men. I didn’t know that Viagra could potentially help cure PMT, but that the drug companies don’t want to put it through the clinical trials to do this since it is such a profitable drug that if they find out it causes problems in women it might cause problems that would kill the goose that laid the golden egg. There are lots of examples here of instances of things like men getting free condoms and women not having access to sanitary products that just make your blood boil. When it is pointed out it is hard to not come to the conclusion that we men really are arseholes. This book gets depressing very quickly. There is just case after case of things that made me say, ‘Oh, for god’s sake – who makes this shit up?’ Like how women are often excluded from drug trails altogether because they have hormones that change over the month and so that might make testing the drug a bit more difficult. Which is a bit like designing trousers for men assuming they don’t have penises because, well, it just makes it easier. And before you laugh, the author gives at least half a dozen examples where things are poorly designed to fit women because women have the audacity to grow breasts. This is an infuriating book. We are effectively murdering women – in fact, often we are actually murdering women and too often we do this by paying no attention at all to the physiological, social, cultural and power differences that exist between the sexes. There was a bit early on in this book where I got a bit worried. She started to discuss the problems associated with women in academia – what has become my world – and while all of these problems are very, very real, I was worried that this book might end up a kind of ‘glass ceiling’ book. And after reading Feminism for the 99% A Manifesto – I’m going to have to get around to reviewing that eventually – I’m worried about ‘feminist’ books that only notice the issues that impact rich, white women. But this book brought intersectionality into its analysis too – you know, if you are black and female, you might want to travel out of the US to give birth, I’m just saying. This book ought to make you angry. Not least because the answer to many of the problems identified would simply involve listening to women. I knew many of the things discussed here. For instance, that many more women than men died in the tsunami in 2004. The reason? Women look after children and old people, women are often in locations where they can’t hear the warnings signals, women are less likely to learn to swim, women are less likely to learn to climb trees, women are constrained by ‘modesty’ in clothes that make escaping rising water almost impossible – and if they do escape they are likely to be raped and possibly bashed by men. If you are not made angry by this book you have no humanity left. But the solution is often also painfully simple. We need to listen to women. We need to place them in positions of power. We need to involve them in decision making processes that impact them. I know, radical ideas, but we might as well start big and work down from there. The instance that will stay with me from this book was about public transport – it had just never occurred to me. Most public transport users are women. Men drive cars, women catch the bus. But public transport systems are designed by men. So, they are designed to radiate out from the centre of cities – much like fingers splayed out from the palm of a hand. Which is great for men going to work and then back home again – but not so great for women who might need to get the kids off to school, check on their aging parents, and then work in three part-time jobs that are close enough to home to collect the kids again from school, all of which might not be in a direct line into the centre of the city. Public transport systems are designed by men to suit the needs of men, but are mostly used by women, and so often don’t meet the needs of the majority of its users. Shit like that has really got to stop. Thanks Avolyn for recommending this to me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Do not read this if you are suffering from high blood pressure, because it is absolutely rage inducing. However EVERYONE should read this at some point, it looks at things that I had never even considered, genuinely brilliant. Second Read- so.... my Feminist bookclub have this on the list, so gave it a reread- just as goddamn rage inducing on the second read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Science (Fiction) Nerd Mario

    Simply said, if someone is in power, he tries to make a policy that meets his wishes and reflects the image of the society, company, etc he wants to build. This can be done in a direct, evil way by treating minorities, women, atheists, etc. with repression until imprisonment, torture and death if they misbehave and in these cases, it is an obvious crime. It gets more subtle when bigotry and indoctrination kick in and lead to both politicians and managers that are not all direct, misogynic Simply said, if someone is in power, he tries to make a policy that meets his wishes and reflects the image of the society, company, etc he wants to build. This can be done in a direct, evil way by treating minorities, women, atheists, etc. with repression until imprisonment, torture and death if they misbehave and in these cases, it is an obvious crime. It gets more subtle when bigotry and indoctrination kick in and lead to both politicians and managers that are not all direct, misogynic sexists. That would either fit the requirements their spin doctors taught them for winning the next election nor the code of conduct, corporate responsibility or whatever ethic mumbo jumbo the PR department has in planning. Those white, rich man's minds have been poisoned by influences of faith, elitist thinking and inhumanity and many of them simply had no chance to get out of this vicious cycle, because it makes no difference if it is a cult, an extremist group or a billionaires club, they are all pretty misguided and pitiful. The worst case, both for women and for the possibility to real change, are those who believe that they are doing the right thing and would call themselves emancipated but keep on pushing laws and employment contracts that discriminate against women indirectly and perfidiously. They don´t give any kind of appreciation, allowance or financial help to mothers without whose immense pain and effort each nation would die out because no kids would be born anymore. They don´t give a dollar for all the unpaid work, the caring for toddlers and especially care-dependent elders and without this, the health system would simply collapse. There are medicinal research areas that are taught, shaped and mainly tested on man. It is a simple economic reason why men are preferred in all kinds of long going and very expensive admission procedures for drugs because they don´t get pregnant and have no staggering hormone levels. The result is that many side effects may cause much more harm in women because they haven´t been tested in such large numbers or anyway. The same questions plops up with the harmfulness of, well, anything, like any kind of food additive, environmental toxins and the regulatory limits. Tested and found harmless for men with an official quality seal. Tested with younger and older women with different hormone levels, muscle mass and probably pregnancy? "Nope, would have been too difficult and expensive, sorry, nobody does that, probably in Amazon wonderland, but not here." There are no numbers available regarding the side effects of all drugs, environmental destruction and food risks, but let's say that there may be an unknown number of women that would have profited from clean 50 male/ 50 female test series instead of dying. I find it really difficult to decide if the simple, logical, economic greed is more disgusting than the reminiscences and aftermaths of all those very old, sexist writings by weird old men. Those two axes of evil certainly exponentiate each other, learn from each other and produce the right social and consumer products for him who unofficially still deems women inferior. In design, the number of toilets is a prime example of male domination. This is not deadly, in contrast to using crash test dummies that are normed as male or giving free condoms and restricting female contraception, but an instance of simply forgetting that there is another gender out there. Or designing public transport in a way that makes it impossible to do more than just manly things like driving from home to work and back and not caring about things like groceries, kids and stuff. It would also be more expensive to tailor clothes that fit better at hips and breasts, so it simply isn´t done. As much talk as there is about gendering, sexual harassment, eating disorders, etc. so less is heard about those topics in mainstream media. Those would probably bash the religious groups as long as the broadcast corporation doesn´t belong to the Kraken. But they wouldn´t even touch the economic problems with pincers and gloves, cause they all are very dependent on the companies advertising their products. There are no men in general to blame, but a society and upbringing that makes them so blind to the different necessities of half of the population that their work, publications and statistics get highly subconscious biased, onesided, dangerous and often even deadly, as seen in medicine, especially pharmacy, one of the sickest examples of misleading science I have ever seen, especially because it is so obvious and could be easily prevented. "This is a men biased world", one could sing and yes, the so-called strong gender built the whole world with a focus on efficiency, profit or prestige and didn´t listen, care or even think of the needs of all their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. And they inherited this behavior to their sons instead who live in a world of big data with algorithms, AI and immense potential to use all those tools to improve life for all people, but instead, as daddy taught them, they simply ignore, forget or, the easiest way, don´t even evaluate the data about women to jump in their money storage instead and let gold coins softly recoil from their bald head (from daddy too) producing a hollow sound from a skull just filled with .... By empowering women, making a strict law to make half of each government and management leadership ranks half female, make all research transparent with tools like blockchain and dumping direct and indirect sexism in the trash can of history right next to all the other sick ideas out of white men's heads. This is another great book about the topic: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... I like to talk about WEIRD and the topic is a prime example of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol... A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real-life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%2... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancip... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violenc... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminiz... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employm... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereot... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intra-h... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unpaid_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valuati... Categories https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    This is a book about unconscious bias. It's not about men deliberately excluding women when considering things like uniforms, city travel, or treatments for medical conditions ... although it's true that once the bias is pointed out, it's not always top of the list to make safety adjustments. And that's really one of the most important points of the book: it endangers women if you design and build the world without considering women's needs and habits. Women are built in a particular way, and This is a book about unconscious bias. It's not about men deliberately excluding women when considering things like uniforms, city travel, or treatments for medical conditions ... although it's true that once the bias is pointed out, it's not always top of the list to make safety adjustments. And that's really one of the most important points of the book: it endangers women if you design and build the world without considering women's needs and habits. Women are built in a particular way, and they are socially conditioned in a particular way, and they're treated in a particular way - comparing all this to men's situation is useful only to a certain extent because it is so easy for everyone to slip into the mindset that men are the default human, and women are, as the author notes, "niche". We design things for people, but really only think of men and their needs because - and companies and designers are open about this - women are harder, with our non-linear bodies and hormones meaning that more sophisticated (and more expensive) research needs to be done. We also design things for men because men are the designers for the most part. They have no experience being women of course, and don't really look into it because, for the most part, it doesn't occur to them. If you're a woman, just think about all the books you've read through the years about male experience, with a male protagonist, and presented - or even taught - to you as "human experience". We do it all the time, and I read books regularly with male protagonists sorting out their stuff (if you follow me here, you'll see plenty of ex-Navy-SEALS running around). But women's experience in novels and poems? That's women's experience only. My point here is that while women are trained to identify with both men and women, and indeed possibly favor the male experience, men aren't trained to look at - or think about - about women's experience. Criado Perez has really done her research, but what could have been a very statistic-heavy book is in fact very readable, engaging, and so enlightening. The Introduction should really be published on its own - it's magnificent. This is a book to buy and keep, and get some of those sticky notes because you'll want to mark pages for future reference!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Harris

    This is a long-delayed, hugely important book, which people of ALL genders should be reading. Sadly, more people seem to be discussing it than have actually read it. It's not just about crash test dummies, or voice recognition software, or airline seats, or toilet queues, or medical research. It's about the systematic way in which data on women has been ignored, neglected and downright erased, whereas data on men is not only abundant, but recognized as the universal norm. The needs of the This is a long-delayed, hugely important book, which people of ALL genders should be reading. Sadly, more people seem to be discussing it than have actually read it. It's not just about crash test dummies, or voice recognition software, or airline seats, or toilet queues, or medical research. It's about the systematic way in which data on women has been ignored, neglected and downright erased, whereas data on men is not only abundant, but recognized as the universal norm. The needs of the "average person" boil down to the needs of the *average man*, and though not all men *are* average, there's still an enduring attitude that male is a default position and female, an aberration. I found myself recognizing so many situations depicted in this book - things I thought that only I had experienced, but which turn out to be common to pretty much all women, whether they're aware of it or not. Read this, and you'll start noticing inequalities you never even considered before. And you'll notice them everywhere.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I decided to read ‘Invisible Women’ after coming across an extract from it in the Guardian and associated discussion on twitter. Both focused on how practically everything is designed for the mythical ‘average man’. I'm very aware of this due to being only 5ft tall. I cannot reach any overhead racks in trains, hanging straps in buses, or top shelves in supermarkets. I’ve given up on backpacks because they’re never comfortable and find smart phones incredibly unwieldy to use, one of many reasons I decided to read ‘Invisible Women’ after coming across an extract from it in the Guardian and associated discussion on twitter. Both focused on how practically everything is designed for the mythical ‘average man’. I'm very aware of this due to being only 5ft tall. I cannot reach any overhead racks in trains, hanging straps in buses, or top shelves in supermarkets. I’ve given up on backpacks because they’re never comfortable and find smart phones incredibly unwieldy to use, one of many reasons I hate them. The desk and chair I work in are too high for me to sit comfortably, so I have to adjust my posture all the time. Constant minor inconveniences of this kind are something I’ve just learned to live with. Such relatively trivial examples are useful to highlight a much more serious point: the world is still largely designed by and for men. Perez considers the impact of this in a variety of specific areas including politics and healthcare, repeatedly highlighting the lack of data on women’s experiences and need for this to understand and improve them. While I found the book very readable, after a while this started to feel slightly more like a weakness than a virtue. By this I mean that any given section could be lifted out and published as a high quality thinkpiece. Perez cites more supporting evidence than most, however I felt that the book had rather a loose thesis and didn't make very strong suggestions for solutions. Perhaps I am merely quicker to blame capitalism than she is? (I tend to blame capitalism for practically everything - probably because practically everything is capitalism’s fault.) For example, one chapter criticises GDP as an inaccurate measure of economic activity, which it is, then suggests economic growth could be achieved by encouraging more women into paid work through better childcare and tax policy. This felt like a rather simplistic summary of the many flaws in GDP, notably its disregard of environmental costs, and of women in work, as underpaid bullshit jobs aren't necessarily liberating. That said, I share her incredulity that big pharma has no interest in researching period pain and PMS. So many women, including myself, would pay good money on a regular basis for some over-the-counter solution to the nightmare of periods. Nurofen just doesn’t cut it and GPs have little to offer. Come on, markets, supply a good to meet our needs! To put my griping in context: I found the book well-argued and written, however it is definitely a piece of longform journalism rather than a work of feminist economics, politics, or theory. Personally, I would have preferred a bit more depth over breadth. That is just my preference, though, and it would be very unfair to criticise the book for not being something it never claimed to be. The topic is vast and Perez has chosen a good range of examples to illustrate key areas. Thus it’s very depressing to read if you regularly experience what it describes. This hit me particularly hard, as it summarises my first year as a junior lecturer: But their unpaid work inside the workplace doesn’t help either. When students have an emotional problem, it is their female professors, not their male professors, they turn to. Students are also more likely to request extensions, grade boosts, and rule-bending of female academics. In isolation, a request of this kind isn’t likely to take up much time or mental energy - but they add up, and they constitute a cost on female academics’ time that male academics mostly aren’t even aware of, and that universities don’t account for. [...] The inequity of women being loaded with less valued work is compounded by the system for evaluating this work, which is itself systematically biased against women. [...] Less effective male professors routinely receive higher student evaluations than more effective female teachers. Students believe that male professors hand marking back more quickly - even when that is impossible because it’s an online course delivered by a single lecturer, but where half the students are led to believe that the professor is male and half female. Female professors are penalised if they aren’t deemed sufficiently warm and accessible. But if they are warm and accessible they can be penalised for not appearing authoritative or professional. On the other hand, appearing authoritative and knowledgeable as a woman can result in student disapproval, because this violates gendered expectations. Meanwhile men are rewarded if they are accessible at a level that is simply expected in women and therefore only noticed if its absent. You really can’t win in academia. Anecdotally, I’ve observed a pattern of senior male professors taking on postgraduate supervisees, then being so inaccessible that these orphan students turn to more junior female professors for guidance. Rather than tell such students to send their supervisor another email I try to help them, effectively taking on work that’s being shirked by men paid twice as much as me. The book didn’t just cover sexism that I was already aware of on a daily basis. The chapter on international development and disaster response was eye-opening and, inevitably, deeply depressing. Perez recognises the important racial as well as gendered elements there and at other points, which is helpful. I found her introductory definitions of sex and gender rather unsatisfactory, though. They are unnecessarily biologically essentialist, and thus surprisingly old-fashioned in tone. This doesn’t undermine Perez’s arguments as such, but it’s a bit disappointing as with only slight editing they could have been much more inclusive. Regarding exciting new manifestations of sexism, I really liked the discussion of how automation via algorithms amplifies bias in training datasets. It’s interesting to compare Perez’s suggestion of more granular data-gathering and rigorous testing of algorithms with the fundamental critique of Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. There’s a lot more to be said about how crude and reductive data mining can be; sexism is by no means the only form of inequality that can be reproduced through automation. By looking for correlations in big data without any interest in causation, analytics will find gendered behaviour patterns without providing any explanation for why they might differ, let alone whether these differences are fair. I’d highly recommend ‘Invisible Women’ to men as a readable evidence base for 21st century gender inequality. I’d recommend it to women with the caveat that it’s a reminder of the many ways that being female sucks (albeit to different degrees depending on ethnicity, wealth, nationality, etc). The Guardian extract is an accurate representation of the book as a whole - it has the readability and passion of high quality journalism, without the systematic insight of more academic work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Read this if you're ready to get mad about how basically every research study done and used to create solutions to problems for "all people" are based on the average white male. Not surprising, but infuriating to see it laid out so plainly. I've always been so angered about technology being not useful for my tiny hands, and it's relieving -- and again, angering and frustrating -- this is just a norm of being female when research completely excludes the fact your body isn't the average white Read this if you're ready to get mad about how basically every research study done and used to create solutions to problems for "all people" are based on the average white male. Not surprising, but infuriating to see it laid out so plainly. I've always been so angered about technology being not useful for my tiny hands, and it's relieving -- and again, angering and frustrating -- this is just a norm of being female when research completely excludes the fact your body isn't the average white dude. And don't get me started on the viagra research. Crucial reading for feminists and for anyone who does product research. There is so much work to be done.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Invisible Women is the story of what happens when we forget to account for half of humanity. It is an exposé of how the gender data gap harms women when life proceeds, more or less as normal. In urban planning, politics, the workplace. It is also about what happens to women living in a world built on male data when things go wrong. When they get sick. When they lose their home in a flood. When they have to flee that home because of war. My husband is not a knuckle-dragging caveman, but he is a Invisible Women is the story of what happens when we forget to account for half of humanity. It is an exposé of how the gender data gap harms women when life proceeds, more or less as normal. In urban planning, politics, the workplace. It is also about what happens to women living in a world built on male data when things go wrong. When they get sick. When they lose their home in a flood. When they have to flee that home because of war. My husband is not a knuckle-dragging caveman, but he is a middle-aged, white, Canadian male, totally oblivious to the privileges afforded to him by our society (admittedly, many of those privileges are granted to me as well). We were in the car, listening to the radio over the summer, and “It's a Man's World” began to play. Dave chuckled and said, “Boy, things have changed, eh?” And I replied: “And boy, have they stayed the same.” And this stunned him. “You can't believe that,” he said. “Here's a story for you then. A young girl at work...” I cut him off. “Young girl? What, is she eight or nine?” And then he was flustered. “You know what I mean. I'm just trying to tell you a nice story.” He paused like he was going to punish me by not telling me the story after all but soon continued: “Rebecca, who is probably twenty-five and on my team, was asked by HR to assemble some slides for a presentation on the industry and she asked me if she could present it to me first. She reads off the first slide, which is about the gender pay gap, and before she went to the next slide she frowned, looked at her notes, and said, 'This is probably American data.' Because she knows that there's no gender pay gap in our office, and if anything, there are more women than men in senior positions, and more women on a management track.” He looked proud of himself – and he should, I know that this non-caveman, the father of my daughters, is not a sexist or a chauvinist – but still I pushed my point: “If this had been a twenty-five year old male in your story, would you have started off with, 'This young boy at work...?' Because that's what hasn't changed, and no matter what you consciously do to promote the careers and the welfare of the women you know, it's the subconscious biases that are harder for us to navigate because you don't even know what you're doing that's holding us back.” Dave, “shocked” to discover I felt this way, wanted more details about these “subconscious biases” of which I accused him. And while women know that the systems are rigged against us, it's hard to be specific – until now. Caroline Criado Perez has assembled a collection of shocking and eye-opening stories in Invisible Women, very clearly making the point that men, for the most part, aren't consciously trying to hold women back; for the most part, men don't think about women, and the fact that our needs might differ from their own, at all. From medicine to safety devices to public transit, everything is designed and tested to suit the typical male's body and needs, with women's very different bodies and needs considered niche or secondary or “the same but smaller”. It is mostly about the gender data gap: the fact that nearly all studies and research, even medical testing, isn't disaggregated by sex, so there is next to no data about how anything in our societies, which tend to be designed by men for men, affects women differently than men. And where this is no data, a thing – in this case, women – is in effect invisible to those who do the planning – in most cases, men. Informative, shocking, and usefully prescriptive, Invisible Women is a must read for men and women everywhere. The specifics are fascinating – dysmenorrhea (extremely painful periods) was found to be completely alleviated without side effects in the early stages of Viagra testing, but its manufacturer stopped that direction of testing when it found the drug's more profitable application; women in police forces and armies around the world are forced to wear male body armour that doesn't account for breasts and hips and therefore leaves them vulnerable to attack and more prone to workplace injury (a female police officer in Spain was disciplined for acquiring her own made-for-women bulletproof vest); NGOs tend to ask the male heads of household what is required in the aftermath of a disaster, which has, more than once, led to the construction of homes without kitchens in them – but it would take a book-length review to list everything fascinating in this book. I'll just add some of Criado Perez's conclusions regarding the invisibility of women in public planning: When planners fail to account for gender, public spaces become male spaces by default. The reality is that half the global population has a female body. Half the global population has to deal with the sexualised menace that is visited on that body. The entire global population needs the care that, currently, is mainly carried out, unpaid, by women. These are not niche concerns, and if public spaces are truly to be for everyone, we have to start accounting for the lives of the other half of the world. And, as we've seen, this isn't just a matter of justice; it's also a matter of simple economics. The invisibility of women in the workplace: Women have always worked. They have worked unpaid, underpaid, underappreciated, and invisibly, but they have always worked. But the modern workplace does not work for women. From its location, to its hours, to its regulatory standards, it has been designed around the lives of men and is no longer fit for purpose. The world of work needs a wholesale redesign – of its regulations, of its equipment, of its culture – and this redesign must be led by data on female bodies and female lives. And the invisibility of women in the political sphere: The data we already have makes it abundantly clear that female politicians are not operating on a level playing field. The system is skewed towards electing men, which means that the system is skewed towards perpetuating the gender gap in global leadership, with all the attendant negative repercussions for half the world's population. We have to stop willfully closing our eyes to the positive discrimination that currently works in favour of men. We have to stop acting as if theoretical, legal equality of opportunity is the same as true equality of opportunity. And we have to implement an evidence-based electoral system that is designed to ensure that a diverse group of people is in the room when it comes to deciding on the laws that govern us all. The first step to true equality of opportunity and outcome would be to close this gender data gap – wherever there is evidence of inequality, decent people do tend to advocate for change – but this will take more women in decision-making roles (it's disheartening to read of the many researchers who can't get grants to study issues that affect only women as they are too “niche”) and that takes time. I remember back in the 80s my mother complaining that the medical world tended to treat women like small men instead of maybe, just maybe, something not the same as men. So, yeah, that was a long time ago and it's still a man's world.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    Since I've picked up this book, I've recommended it to everyone I've talked to, and now I'm recommending it to you. This is an extremely well-researched and comprehensive look at the gender data gap in all aspects of life, ranging from the utterly absurd to the life-threatening. The sub-subtitle of this book could be "but wait, there's more" as Criado Perez delves deep into the social construction of the gender data gap with both conscious humour and appropriate outrage. I cannot recommend this Since I've picked up this book, I've recommended it to everyone I've talked to, and now I'm recommending it to you. This is an extremely well-researched and comprehensive look at the gender data gap in all aspects of life, ranging from the utterly absurd to the life-threatening. The sub-subtitle of this book could be "but wait, there's more" as Criado Perez delves deep into the social construction of the gender data gap with both conscious humour and appropriate outrage. I cannot recommend this enough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    I don't know who would possibly want a man's opinion on a book about the problems with male default bias, but... here's my review. This is essentially a collection of statistics which entail how systems made by men and for men are minimizing and marginalizing the other 50% of the population. It does this by breaking the statistics down into chapter-spanning categories and creating a cohesive narrative to explain how all of these events are related and come back to the same basic problem. I would I don't know who would possibly want a man's opinion on a book about the problems with male default bias, but... here's my review. This is essentially a collection of statistics which entail how systems made by men and for men are minimizing and marginalizing the other 50% of the population. It does this by breaking the statistics down into chapter-spanning categories and creating a cohesive narrative to explain how all of these events are related and come back to the same basic problem. I would recommend this book to any man who identifies as "not sexist." Because this makes it clear that even treatment that men believe is fair, un-sexist, and in the best interest of women, is still entirely subjective to their inherently male worldview. This book really shook up my views on what equal consideration for both men and women should look like. To anyone who thinks, "Why can't women be more like men," or that women should follow the exact same rules and be given the exact same treatment, read this book. You will develop a very thorough understanding of how, both now and historically, one-size-fits-all rules generally conflate what favors society as a whole with what favors the men who write them. Consequently, equal consideration to both men and women often requires unequal treatment, because, surprising as this may be to many men, women don't necessarily have the same needs. I listened to the audiobook, which happens to be narrated by the author. This, I think, was a huge benefit, as the tones and inflections of the author convey the feeling and intended meaning of every word. This does, of course, mean that the author's (understandably) frustrated bias often comes through in the subtext, but I think that's important in order to glean not only the data and statistics, but an actual woman's perspective on them. It doesn't blur the actual data being presented, so I think the book is better for it. My one complaint is that the information in this book was borderline overwhelming. A majority of the content entails half-hour cascades of one statistic after another, and I found that my proverbial eyes would glaze over occasionally and I would have to back up and try again. This is unfortunately inevitable, as there are only so many ways to convey this information to the reader. It also draws to light the sheer volume of the unconscious and invisible discriminations that happen every day, and I commend the author's ability to gather and present them so entirely. Another side effect of the volume of information is that I don't feel particularly empowered to personally incite a change. I often found myself nodding along with most of the book, but I'm left feeling very unclear as to what to do next. I do, however, believe that I am armed with facts that I didn't have before, and I can use this knowledge to call out the injustices that occur within my sphere of influence. As a whole, most of this book felt like a persuasive essay along the lines of, "You want proof that male privilege exists, that most systems of governance are biased toward men, and that women are literally dying because of it? Well here's your proof." And the proof is appalling. Point taken.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Obstkuchen

    I wish I could make everyone read this book in the hope that every man could actually see how insignificant women are in a male-oriented world. Quite simply, we do not exist. When I was 13 I adored reading Sherlock Holmes stories but I soon worked out that when a man refers to ‘people’ what he actually means is ‘other men’. Every single thing that impacts on the lives of women has actually been designed by men for the benefit of men. From cars to taxes, from medication to disaster relief time and I wish I could make everyone read this book in the hope that every man could actually see how insignificant women are in a male-oriented world. Quite simply, we do not exist. When I was 13 I adored reading Sherlock Holmes stories but I soon worked out that when a man refers to ‘people’ what he actually means is ‘other men’. Every single thing that impacts on the lives of women has actually been designed by men for the benefit of men. From cars to taxes, from medication to disaster relief time and time again women suffer, die and are sidelined because instead of being seen at 50% of the population we are simply seen as non-standard men.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    You know the feeling when you have known something all your life but everyone else thinks your mental when you talk about it. How often I have been told to be exaggerating when I pointed out bias against women. I mean most people will agree that it exists, but when I go on about how systematic it is, stacked against us in a way that it feels impossible to win or even pull a draw... then eyes start to glaze over. In comes @ccriadoperez excellent book that I recommend everyone to read especially You know the feeling when you have known something all your life but everyone else thinks your mental when you talk about it. How often I have been told to be exaggerating when I pointed out bias against women. I mean most people will agree that it exists, but when I go on about how systematic it is, stacked against us in a way that it feels impossible to win or even pull a draw... then eyes start to glaze over. In comes @ccriadoperez excellent book that I recommend everyone to read especially all of you engaged in designing and creating spaces within society to check your understanding of your own bias. We are all biased, but if you start to consider your bias as the truth then that’s an issue. Absolutely fantastic book and thanks to my husband for getting this for me for Christmas knowing that he would have to endure me reading out entire passages and ranting about the world, I appreciate it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  14. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    'Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Carolyn Criado-Pérez spectacularly describes factually and scientifically every problem all women have in navigating every society in the world using scientific Big Data, and small data. Criado-Pérez goes deep describing the issues of Men thinking about Women and the results of that thinking: from physical safety to using tools/machines/weapons to difficulties in networking to harmful stereotypes to body-shaming. I was reminded of the 'Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Carolyn Criado-Pérez spectacularly describes factually and scientifically every problem all women have in navigating every society in the world using scientific Big Data, and small data. Criado-Pérez goes deep describing the issues of Men thinking about Women and the results of that thinking: from physical safety to using tools/machines/weapons to difficulties in networking to harmful stereotypes to body-shaming. I was reminded of the problems people who are left-handed have in maneuvering in the world - social, religious, physical, legal and other built-in prejudices. Of course, the huge glaring difference between left-handers and women is that statistically women occupy 55% of the world's population and yet whose strengths and contributions STILL are ignored by societies, businesses, spouses and politicians. Statistically, men would rather destroy a society rather than allow women to participate as equals, or allow women to help themselves and solve the problems of women. The way men around the world seem to feel deep down (just saying as a figurative example and not at all as a real thing, of my impression of the Male Gaze upon Women from this book's real Big Data's serious Big Picture scientific analysis) as just my personal derived mental picture/illustration: Men would rather starve to death before asking a woman to tell them how to cook a meal or cook it himself. (I remind you this is just a mental-thought nightmare, gentle reader, to demonstrate the overall Big Picture of how generally Men see their relationship towards Women. I know many men cook.) The idea of a Man cooking for his family every day for all of his life span, three times a day, and to do it without compensation or reward or recognition - this idea of a man cooking food is more than simply an 'unnatural order of things' for Men - it might be a line which can never be crossed for men to be a Man - a line which has to be maintained to the point of death of ALL involved, since Male dictatorship over women must be maintained even if it means the utter and complete destruction of country, tribe, scientific advancement, and economic gain. If this 'fantasy' of how Men might feel they should be towards Women happened to exist - they might rather destroy all Mankind in the world by radiation from a nuclear war than allow a single woman any equality of rights or life freedoms to live as she chooses. Just saying, in extrapolating from actual history. Men have in real life all over the world, in every country, within every religion, in every community (much of what I point out below is my extrapolations from the more rigorously researched and academically accurate book): -have refused women health care because they are women, while providing themselves with easily available health care. Men make sure they can achieve tumescence, and their pride in making male babies is foremost over whatever state women are in medically, psychologically or financially. Men give themselves more and more women for sex, the younger the better, primary as long as she is menstruating - replacing female womb parts as if women were parts in a manufacturing process. Or, the opposite - insurance-paid condoms while refusing women insurance-paid birth control. Btw, Viagra is often an insurance-paid benefit, while menstrual pads, childcare and birth-control pills are not. For real. -Additionally, scientific studies and experiments use male mice, or male monkeys, or male whatever - or male cells in cultures. Male dummies are used in car accidents. There is a "Universal Man" definition, used by labs, scientists and governments all over the world, because of it being the "custom". What it is is really male-oriented group think. This "universal man" standard used as an experimental model all over the world is used despite that women are fundamentally and biologically different on the cellular level from Men. Whenever women have been taken into account, stereotypes rule the hypotheses and the experiments rather than factual observations. Plus: women are 55% of the world population, but there is no "universal woman" standard. -Men have refused women any secondary education and above, or ANY education, often by LAW, gentle reader, but more often custom, while giving themselves either free education or low-interest loans, (Men helping Men - relatives, bank/finance and old-boy networking) towards all the educational opportunities they want. -Men give each other jobs and apprenticeships while refusing to hire women because they are women, even if those women are academically brilliant, and mathematically-, computer- or scientifically-savvy, or even if she is a just a serviceable body-in-place. If a woman invented a new economical energy drive for space ships to travel to Mars, it is very probable: a Man will take credit for it or bury it, rather than acknowledge a Woman invented it. If Men must give the Women credit for inventions, discoveries or engineering achievements, they will see to it she gets no money or award from it or any historical notice of it. Especially Men will forbid any statues, or picture representation on money or coins celebrating the achievement as a moment of national pride. Instead, if a male co-worker assisted the Woman inventor or engineer, Men will acclaim him, the assistant, publically in every type of social media and history book, asking him to give speeches or interviews. Men will give the male assistant promotions and wage increases, and better job opportunities. Historically, women are pushed out of whatever organizations she was part of into obscurity and unemployability. -Men engineer tools/machines/work clothes/protective gear to specifically fit men's hands and weight distribution and body sizes, refusing to manufacture tools/machines/work clothes/protective gear to specifically fit women's bodies, i.e., breasts and hips, smaller bones, less muscle mass and more body fat. Remember, women are 55% of the population. -Laws protect Men, but not women. Police enforce laws to protect Men, but not Women. Wink, wink. -Appropriate Wages are for Men; women are to be financially exploited, enslaved, or made to work for free - and this eliminates all measures of women's contribution to national economies and measures of well-being (unpaid childcare, elderly care, housework, secretarial and nursing work, farming labor). Women are not given priority attention as a result by politicians. -Politics is for Men only by customary malecentric groupthink. If women happen to be elected or appointed, don't inform them of meetings. Don't give them positions on committees. Don't permit them to speak, or to be quoted in print, television or social media. If they speak, humiliate them with name-calling (most common Twitter word in addressing women politicians or female national figures - Bitch: as in aggressive Bitch, loud Bitch, unladylike Bitch, shrill Bitch, hysterical Bitch, especially if she acted or sounded just like a Man. Worst epithet of all: ambitious Bitch. See 'Hilary Clinton'). Interrupt her every other word, do not allow her to finish a sentence, but let Men talk without interruption even if you don't like what he is saying. If the woman capitulates under the social peer pressure and begins wearing pink, smiling a lot, and brings cookies, pat her on the head and send her out for coffee, saying, "she knows her place, fellas!" and give her a place on the committee for children's health. Figuratively speaking, gentle reader - Death seems more preferable than recognizing women as having equal rights for many men, deep down, or in practice in daily life. Even more important, the physical concerns of women to be comfortable and casual and as carefree in the world (as men can be in their bodies and desires) such as going to the toilet, handling menstruation, caring for children, wearing bras, using breast pumps or breast feeding, public swimming, sports, using public transportation, wearing comfortable men's pants (with enough largepockets) or goth tats, being hairy, having a libido, without the Male Gaze approving or disapproving seems a shocking concept for most men in the real world everywhere. Men, even men who support the equality of women, seem to have to overcome their own nature to allow themselves to see women as people with body aches and pains and emissions, some of which are particular to women's bodies! Stupid. It is cutting one's own throat, sinking one's own boat, in order to feel manly, to refuse any woman any legitimate, real, participation in solving any problem, or of thinking of her primarily as someone who's entire purpose is to please your eye or libido or bodily comforts. The book's chapters: Daily Life The Workplace Design Going to the Doctor Public Life When it Goes Wrong There are extensive Endnotes and an Index. As you can imagine, gentle reader, Criado-Pérez has gone to the mat on research, facts, figures and on meticulous fact-checking. I am also sure Fox News and right-wing conservatives and the religious-right and misogynists have already prepared Twitter blasts with the words "fill in the blank Bitch" about Criado-Pérez, and anyone who loves her book. Like me. I highly recommend buying, loaning and reading this book, gentle reader. Unlike me, she gives just the facts, mostly without bitter and acid commentary. It is hard for almost any woman of a certain age today to not have a heart hardened by bitter remembrances and experiences, reader. At least, #metoo.

  15. 4 out of 5

    K.H. Leigh

    Everybody needs to read this book. Everybody. Female, male, nonbinary, everybody. The introduction perfectly articulated and validated many of my own anecdotal observations - the pervasive idea that female is somehow a deviation of human, rather than the base model. The first few chapters, which deal largely with social impacts - community planning, workplace dynamics, etc. - were fascinating, insightful, and compelling. But then as the book progresses, Criado-Perez slowly ups the ante. By the Everybody needs to read this book. Everybody. Female, male, nonbinary, everybody. The introduction perfectly articulated and validated many of my own anecdotal observations - the pervasive idea that female is somehow a deviation of human, rather than the base model. The first few chapters, which deal largely with social impacts - community planning, workplace dynamics, etc. - were fascinating, insightful, and compelling. But then as the book progresses, Criado-Perez slowly ups the ante. By the time she begins to dissect the utter disregard for women in medical studies and pharmaceutical trials, I was a white hot ball of righteous fury. And it only gets worse from there. And yet, despite how FUCKING LITERALLY INCREDIBLE it is that women remain unseen, despite comprising half of the population, Criado-Perez's impeccable research and dry wit give the reader something to feel optimistic about. No, it isn't hope. Hope is passive. What Criado-Perez provides is motivation. She cites numerous examples of individuals and organizations who are actively changing things for the better. Simply by writing the book, she joins their ranks. Simply by reading the book, I do, too. By passing it along, recommending it to every damn person on my friend list, I am helping make women visible. We are not niche. We are not aberrations. We are not a specialized subset of the human race. We are not to be ignored.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    A really strong and interesting read. It's a very powerful, somewhat depressing but entirely eye-opening look at how women and data surrounding women is left out of the system we live it. I would highly, highly recommend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna Backshall

    I read this hoping to do a presentation at work for our Women's Development forum, but holy crap, how in the world do you boil down such a densely filled book into 10-15 slides and a clean summary? IT CAN'T BE DONE. Well, it can, but it wouldn't come close to doing justice to this vastly important book. "Gender data gap" would sound too much like a buzz word, and the message could never penetrate as it should. Instead I am submitting this as a book club choice at work, but hoping we can read it I read this hoping to do a presentation at work for our Women's Development forum, but holy crap, how in the world do you boil down such a densely filled book into 10-15 slides and a clean summary? IT CAN'T BE DONE. Well, it can, but it wouldn't come close to doing justice to this vastly important book. "Gender data gap" would sound too much like a buzz word, and the message could never penetrate as it should. Instead I am submitting this as a book club choice at work, but hoping we can read it in the background, over the course of a quarter, not a month. Each woman will wish to sip, not chug, this book as we may for many of our less weighty novels and business books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lior

    This is a really good comprehensive investigation of how a failure to account for gender based needs and requirements results in a bias towards cis men. This is exactly why the casual cissexism embedded in it is so unfortunate and harmful. Perez critics the continuous overlooking of women and women's needs, but is herself continuously overlooking trans and nonbinary people. She also keeps switching between sex and gender as interchangeable. The most problematic claim is that a lack of This is a really good comprehensive investigation of how a failure to account for gender based needs and requirements results in a bias towards cis men. This is exactly why the casual cissexism embedded in it is so unfortunate and harmful. Perez critics the continuous overlooking of women and women's needs, but is herself continuously overlooking trans and nonbinary people. She also keeps switching between sex and gender as interchangeable. The most problematic claim is that a lack of sex-segregated bathrooms in some places increases rape and sexual assault. This is clearly focusing on the wrong aspect of a problem, while creating new problems for people who don't fit the norm. It is extremely disappointing in the context of shedding light on how women are seen as a deviation of the cis male norm, who is seen as default. A critical book published in 2019 which deals with gender cannot ignore trans folks. It is simply not good enough to address cis people exclusively in such a comprehensive book. Hope there will be a better, more inclusive edition soon, as it is highly important this kind of information be accessible for all.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Solid. Informative. More evidence that I should resist doing the dishes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sippy

    Had a hard time reading this, skipped, scanned, got bored with the ranting and the constant portaying women as victims and mothers. They are many times, but especially in western countries they have and can do more than is suggested in this book. Underwhelming. And yes: I am a feminist. Had a hard time reading this, skipped, scanned, got bored with the ranting and the constant portaying women as victims and mothers. They are many times, but especially in western countries they have and can do more than is suggested in this book. Underwhelming. And yes: I am a feminist. ♀️

  21. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    Shocking. Terrifying. Exasperating. And to me, life-changing. I know I am in a marginal group (at least in my country's and cultural context), but I did not know that I'm being marginalized in every aspect of my life, from the cellphone I use until the fact that I have been doing many care work without remuneration. This is the story of systematized marginalization of half of the world population just because they have vagina. This book makes me angry. My own city does not care about my mobility Shocking. Terrifying. Exasperating. And to me, life-changing. I know I am in a marginal group (at least in my country's and cultural context), but I did not know that I'm being marginalized in every aspect of my life, from the cellphone I use until the fact that I have been doing many care work without remuneration. This is the story of systematized marginalization of half of the world population just because they have vagina. This book makes me angry. My own city does not care about my mobility as a woman and prefer to separate women from men instead of educating everyone that sexual harassment is against the law. My transport app does not care if their bikes are too high for me to ride on. When I am sick, most drugs I use were made with men as trial subjects. My family forces me to do all the cleaning stuff since they said 'it's a girl's job'. The cars I (could) drive have better protection for men because it's designed for men's body in the driving seat. The voice recognition in my phone was designed for mostly men. The chance of me getting a loan for my hypothetical start-up is minimal because I'm a woman, and so on and so forth. That's just me, but what about millions of women who are not as lucky as I am (who has a decent job and still can go on vacations)? THEY, WE LIVE IN THE WORLD MADE BY MEN AND FOR MEN. According to the data from UN Women https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do... Women bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work. Women tend to spend around 2.5 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men. Did you know what if you got married/living with a men, then your care and domestic work burden will increase up to 70%? while men, most of the times, have more times to pursue their hobbies. I used to scoff at those young mothers with their babysitters in the malls (one babysitter per child) but now I think they're 1) smart 2) lucky to afford the sitters since they have more time for themselves. So, make sure if you decide to cohabitate, all tasks and chores would be divided equally. The Non Fiction Book Club is still discussing this book and we have plenty of examples on these unpaid work women do because of misplaced gender role in the household. That list goes on and on. "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 will never look at my married male diver friends the same again. They are able to spend a long dive vacations because their wives are at home taking care of everything. Women always takes the burden and we let ourselves doing that. This book is also infuriating especially since even the developed countries still have a bad record when it comes to recognizing women's needs and voices. If they still got it bad, how about us here in the developing world, where patriarchy is the norm? where even affirmative action remains cosmetic? "The presumption that what is male is universal is a direct consequence of the gender data gap. Whiteness and maleness can only go without saying because most other identities never get said at all. But male universality is also a cause of the gender data gap: because women aren't seen and aren't remembered, because male data makes up the majority of what we know, what is male comes to be seen as universal. It leads to the positioning of women, half the global population, as a minority. With a niche identity and subjective point of view. In such a framing, women are set up to be forgettable. Ignorable. Dispensable - from culture, from history, a from data. And so, women become invisible.” Thank you Caroline Criado-Pérez for writing this important book that everyone should read and for opening my eyes to the stark and grim reality. Now excuse me, I need to call my mom and offer her any vacation she wants because I could never thank her properly for every sacrifices she made for me when she had to cope with her career and making sure the house (and me) was in one piece.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pooja

    I want this book to be a sensation. If it is the only one non fiction book you will read this year, then it has to be Invisible Women. Many important lessons are here to learn for everyone, for humanity itself. Facts after facts are brought into light, a well researched work and I'm sure that no matter what your profession or interest is, you will find at least one new thing from this book. I thank the internet and my own curiosity that I came across this book. It was a huge learning experience I want this book to be a sensation. If it is the only one non fiction book you will read this year, then it has to be Invisible Women. Many important lessons are here to learn for everyone, for humanity itself. Facts after facts are brought into light, a well researched work and I'm sure that no matter what your profession or interest is, you will find at least one new thing from this book. I thank the internet and my own curiosity that I came across this book. It was a huge learning experience for me. A few quotes that hit home: In prehistoric times, ‘what were the females doing while the males were out hunting?’ There is no such thing as a woman who doesn’t work. There is only a woman who isn’t paid for her work. Is women’s unpaid work under valued because we don’t see it – or is it invisible because we don’t value it? Bad data leads to bad resource allocation.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    You'd think that by this point, having read as much on this and similar topics as I have, that I wouldn't be shocked anymore at how little women are considered or valued in society... but apparently not. This book was eye opening and yet, completely unsurprising. This is a book about how the Default Human is man. Throughout history, men have been the form around which everything was based. Men were and are the arbiter of value, and as such, designed society and infrastructure around their own, You'd think that by this point, having read as much on this and similar topics as I have, that I wouldn't be shocked anymore at how little women are considered or valued in society... but apparently not. This book was eye opening and yet, completely unsurprising. This is a book about how the Default Human is man. Throughout history, men have been the form around which everything was based. Men were and are the arbiter of value, and as such, designed society and infrastructure around their own, ignoring the needs of the other half of the population. Men are the default, the standard, the objective normal... and women are the exception, the outlier, the anomaly. The term "man", used generally, is supposedly representative of humanity. Humanity, which, you may be aware, has more than one biological sex. And yet only one of those sexes is called "man". This isn't a mistake. This is by design. Man is MANkind. Man is huMAN. WoMAN is a "deformed version of a man" according to Aristotle, apparently. WoMAN is simply allowed to live in a man's world - an inconvenient other, except when necessary for the continuation and care of mankind. These are bold statements, but it's not like we have to look far for evidence. This book is about the data gap that exists when it comes to women. All too often, studies and plans fail to include women, so women's needs are not taken into account. This ranges from everything from neighborhood planning and infrastructure, to bus lines and schedules, to phone size, to health care (see my review on how women's needs in health care are not being met), to car safety testing, to job opportunity, to retirement planning. Crash test dummies are modeled after men's average height and weight, and for a long time were the only model, and would only be tested in the driver's seat, where the man usually would be. Female representative models have only recently been added, but are usually tested in the passenger seat, meaning that women in the driver's seat are still not taken into account for safety - something seriously lacking when one considers that women, being usually shorter, will have the seat closer to the steering column and more upright, and so will naturally fare differently in an accident. Even seatbelts are designed for men - certainly not anyone with boobs or a potentially large pregnant stomach. I have to use a seatbelt adjuster so that I'm not strangled to death (or beheaded should I get into an accident) by the seatbelt that rides up over my chest because my pesky breasts are in the way of where it wants to naturally lie. Firefighter/police/coast guard/military/et al safety gear is still designed and made for men, despite women having held these positions for decades at least. The "standard issue" "safety" equipment designed for male bodies does not protect female bodies effectively, and is often more detrimental to women's safety than just not wearing it. And women die because of it. Aside from death, though, lack of correctly fitting equipment prevents female opportunity. This year, (as a reminder, it's 2019), we saw the first all-female spacewalk scrapped in March because there were not enough suits sized for the women available. They later clarified and said "Oh, well we DO have enough, but they'd require some adjustment, and it's just easier to send a man instead." (Paraphrasing.) So, of course, there was backlash, and now, 7 months later NASA finally got it right and allowed two women to venture outside of the atmosphere of men for the first time in history. It only took 50 years. Let's not forget all of the hate and abuse and threats and shit aimed at women in... oh, pretty much any industry that's typically been done by men. Doctors, programmers, scientists, gamers, military, any elected official... you name it, and women take shit for daring to do it. And all too often, violence against women is seen as expected, normal, and accepted. What do we expect, stepping out of the kitchen like that? Unless it's stepping INTO a kitchen, which apparently men also dominate in the restaurant industry. How very DARE we. Women's value and worth and competency is all too often conflated with our likability. But it's a lose/lose situation. Because if we are too likable, too pretty, too nice, too polite, we're not seen as capable. If we're not likable or demure or modest enough, if we dare show ambition or come across as too matter-of-fact or stern, then we're a bitch, hysterical, unpredictable, untrustworthy, two-faced, vindictive... etc. Men don't face these hypocrisies. If a man yells and screams or interrupts or bangs his fist on the table, he's "passionate". If a woman does it, she's "emotional" and "unhinged". If a working woman has a family, she's still almost always expected to be the primary caregiver - and is penalized for it as she's seen as "not committed" to her career. But a man who has a family is expected to be the primary earner outside the home, and he can be and is expected to be career-driven... since usually he has a wife doing all of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Women do an extraordinary amount of unpaid work to keep our families and society functional, and at every turn, that work is devalued, undermined, and ignored. We are generally the caregivers, the cookers, the cleaners, the errand runners, the homework helpers, the pet minders. We do gardening and house maintenance and menu planning and then shopping and then loading and unloading and putting away the groceries before we cook it. We are the laundry service, the find-the-item-sitting-in-plain-sight service... on and on and on. And that's just the normal stuff. All unpaid. "Women's work". This book covered a HUGE array of areas where women are ignored or invisible to society, and my review can't cover it all or do it proper justice. I highly recommend this book. It was fascinating, and really shows how far we have come, and how far there is still to go to achieve true equality.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Dinaburg

    Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men overflows with facts and examples of how women are discounted or completely ignored in modern social, academic, and commercial applications. The two or three times I noticed it dip into the speculative feels unwieldy: why include weak studies whose findings are still in dispute when you have so much good data that proves your thesis? Why include, “[M]ale-default thinking may also be behind the finding that research perceived to have been Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men overflows with facts and examples of how women are discounted or completely ignored in modern social, academic, and commercial applications. The two or three times I noticed it dip into the speculative feels unwieldy: why include weak studies whose findings are still in dispute when you have so much good data that proves your thesis? Why include, “[M]ale-default thinking may also be behind the finding that research perceived to have been done by men is associated with ‘greater scientific quality’: this could be a product of pure sexism, but it could also be a result of the mode of thinking that sees male as universal and female as niche,” after four or five studies that definitively show harmful consequences of universal-male-default thinking? It’s a weird nitpick but one that I’ve slammed a handful of other books for. There is a major difference here, though; those books solely relied upon anecdote and selective studies to prop up their pet theories. It was all they did. The disputed status of the speculative data is fully cited in the actual text in Invisible Women, not buried in the endnotes, hallelujah hallelujah amen. This type of attention to detail permeates the text; nearly every single citations is settled, provable fact and anything that is up for debate is framed as such. Bene. Invisible Women keeps matching datapoint after datapoint to the worst-case scenarios of a world actively hostile toward women. Incredibly, things are always usually worse for fifty percent of the global population than they seem. It’s unnerving, and it expands over the three-hundred pages. There are so many facts that are really important to recognize, and listing them one after another creates shock value that is memorable enough to enact change. The short-list versions of the book are already available; the content there is amazing, and I really think the article works better than the book. Reading chapter after chapter of the same issues in different disciplines turns into a slog, and you can pick up some specifics without wading into the totality of the work. For example, an unnamed charity “...only talked to male farmers.” Things did not go well from there: Male farmers said that yield was the most important trait, and so that was the crop that the organisation bred. And then it was surprised when households didn’t adopt it...[t]he female farmers in this area didn’t see yields as the most important thing. They cared about other factors like how much land preparation and wedding these crops required, because these are female jobs. And they cared about how long, ultimately, the crops could take to cook (another female job). The new, high-yield varieties increased the time the women had to spend on these other tasks, and so, unsurprisingly, they did not adopt these crops. Invisible Women is great citation material, and a book I am happy to own so I can refer back to it. I just wouldn’t recommend reading it straight through. It seems impossible not to become inured as item after item repeats the same format; women are disenfranchised at nearly every turn, their data isn’t collected or sex-disaggregated, and it is messing up how societies are built. This is non-fiction, and I recognize that pervasive repetition is the point, but it is repetitious nonetheless. The long format creates a lot of ambivalence; the shock eventually dulls, and it muddles strong-headline-making injustice—The Deadly Truth about a World Built for Men, From Stab Vests to Car Crashes—with the fact that it is really a lack of information that is killing women: Women aren’t ignored in favor of the male default for medical research only due to misogyny and historical legacy, but because the information seems clear that hormonal changes throughout their period change the efficacy of drugs, their pain threshold and experience, and stress tolerance. The variability is expensive to control for, so men stay the default.” We couldn’t change the focus of medical trials right now even if we wanted to, because the data isn’t there. Because no one bothers to collect it or sex-disaggregate it. Ditto for: restroom access; bus routes; housing and urban planning; seatbelts; kevlar; military backpacks; airbags. It needs to be said, again, that women’s rights are human rights. So while I grew weary of reading the specifics of yet another way in which women have been screwed over, I don’t know a better way to show, over and over, that women have been ignored in data collection and that our current social fabric is built upon an unspoken male default. Example after example within Invisible Women gets to be a tedious read, but it is the only way to be sure the point is made that the world needs to listen to women.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

    Like so many of the decisions to exclude women in the interests of 'simplicity', from architecture to medical research, this conclusion could only be reached in a culture that conceives of men as the default human, and women as a niche aberration. To distort a reality you are supposedly trying to measure makes sense only if you don't see women as essential. It doesn't make sense if you're talking about half the human race. And it doesn't make sense if you care about accurate data. And there you Like so many of the decisions to exclude women in the interests of 'simplicity', from architecture to medical research, this conclusion could only be reached in a culture that conceives of men as the default human, and women as a niche aberration. To distort a reality you are supposedly trying to measure makes sense only if you don't see women as essential. It doesn't make sense if you're talking about half the human race. And it doesn't make sense if you care about accurate data. And there you have it. For years and years and years, society has ignored the fact that women are physiologically different to men and as a result have completely different needs. And as a result of this, women are being put in danger and mistreated because society treats them as an aberration from the "norm". In this, the 21st century, when women's capabilities, endurance and perspective is adding more value than ever, the fact that the design of things all around us is holding us back is ever more stark. I am absolutely furious. Everybody needs to read this book. We are so far from an equal society, and we have no idea just how deep set that divide is.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marcela

    My major critique is that I would've liked to see more intersectionality. The author explains that there's very little data out there about women of color, which is part of the problem, but I also would've liked to hear information about the ways the gender data gap also works against queer women, trans women, disabled women, etc. Basically, this book could likely have been three times this size. The most frustrating thing overall is that I suspect it's mostly the choir reading this book: My major critique is that I would've liked to see more intersectionality. The author explains that there's very little data out there about women of color, which is part of the problem, but I also would've liked to hear information about the ways the gender data gap also works against queer women, trans women, disabled women, etc. Basically, this book could likely have been three times this size. The most frustrating thing overall is that I suspect it's mostly the choir reading this book: feminists, typically women. MEN, READ THIS BOOK, especially those of you who claim to be feminists (and are most likely to actually internalize the entire premise and act on it).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura Noggle

    Every woman needs to read this book. Full stop. *The consequences of living in a world built around male data can be deadly.* From safety features in cars, to medicinal doses and typical signs of a heart attack—all data is by default based on men and the average male physique. Criado Perez does an excellent job addressing the male cultural bias, delineating the data gap in our male centric world, and tackling the myth of meritocracy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)

    Fuck the patriarchy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    This book definitely deserves to win Book of the Year for science and technology (nonfiction would have been a better fit but whatever). I wish I could give this 6 stars, and I wish every human around the world would read this book and make themselves aware of the inequalities women around the globe face simply because the world at large has been built for men. This is not necessarily out of malice. Active oppression -- refusing females an education, not allowing them to drive, or confining them This book definitely deserves to win Book of the Year for science and technology (nonfiction would have been a better fit but whatever). I wish I could give this 6 stars, and I wish every human around the world would read this book and make themselves aware of the inequalities women around the globe face simply because the world at large has been built for men. This is not necessarily out of malice. Active oppression -- refusing females an education, not allowing them to drive, or confining them to their homes -- is not required for the emergence of gender inequality. Well meaning men have gathered information in order to build things like cars, companies, medicines, and more. The problem is that when they collected this data, they used males as the prototype. Much of the time women's needs don't even occur to them. She used the example of Sheryl Sandberg's pregnancy and its effect on google's policies to make this point.  I was most surprised by the data on gender travel patterns and even more surprised by the information about how difficult it can be for women in various parts of the world to find a safe place to go to the bathroom.  Even though I was not a fan of Hilary Clinton for president, I was floored by the comments in 2016 about her being unqualified or wanting to be elected simply because she was a woman. She was extremely qualified, certainly far more qualified then the reality tv star we have in the role currently. I was happy to listen to this author address some of the absurd ways Clinton was presented to the public in 2016. Most the research was exceptional. Solid facts paired with keen insights worked to really show just how invisible the male standard is. While the title suggests that the book will be about how invisible women are, and they clearly often are, what it really stressed was how truly invisible our male norms are. For example, the focus, in general, on humans -- humans in the workplace, humans who travel, humans who use the bathroom, humans who work, and on and on -- is based on male humans. It's basically a given. Women are then supposed to assume that this applies to them -- sometimes -- too. (She details the many facts that show it really doesn't). But, if you try to focus on women's issues, it is seen as fringe or niche. A+ for driving this point home. Excellent writing and debating skills went into this book and the result is a truly salient argument that gives voice to the concerns women have while trying to exist in their societies, workplaces, and families. Bravo!  I had a few concerns about some things that were presented too simplistically. Sometimes if you are too simplistic about a topic, it takes away from the credibility of the overall argument, because it provides people with opportunities to poke holes in different places in the argument, which to some can serve to weaken the argument overall. One example of something portrayed without real world complexity was her argument about Rosalind Franklin. Franklin definitely does not get the recognition she deserves. There is no doubt about that. However, even though she was the one to take Photo 51, she did not realize the significance of the photo and was unable to, by herself, determine the structure of DNA. What is also true is that Watson could never have, by himself, determined the structure either. He stole, literally broke in and stole Photo 51 from Franklin's office. It is this thievery, and only this thievery that allowed him to discover the structure that won him a Nobel. That is what this author's focus should have been. She could have also focused on how Rosalind Franklin died, because of the dangers of her x-ray crystallography work, and Nobels were not granted posthumously.  Watson was still alive, and with his fame and time on this earth, he chose to belittle the very woman from whom he stole his data that secured him a Nobel. To treat a woman in science, a brilliant woman in science, in such a manner is definitely something that could have and should have been discussed in this book. His autobiography was a #metoo nightmare for the memory of Franklin, whom he disparaged so often throughout his book. Instead, the Franklin example in this book was presented in a simple and basically incorrect way to the reader. It would have been worth it to put more time into that argument. Another example of simplicity was the discussion of exposure to BPA. I think an author who wants to build credibility should at least show that s/he is aware of limitations of the BPA studies. A meta analysis conducted by the government called previous findings into question. The levels previously thought to cause harm were much lower than what the meta analysis found. It is still a debate. While basic chemistry tells us that when heat is applied (think microwave), that heat can act as a catalyst to dissociate specific molecules from a plastic. Humans definitely don't seemed designed to add those molecules to their digestive/ metabolic system. So, high exposure to those molecules still seems concerning to me, whether or not we have figured out just how harmful those molecules are long term or not. When reading about BPA in this book, I got no sense that the author knew about the questionable finding she was presenting as fact. You cannot simply say BPA is harmful. You have to show that it methylates or de-methylates genes in humans or that there is a difference in male and female mice when exposed to BPA. I think it is important to at least seem aware of the limitations of these studies.  There were only a few issues like the foregoing. Even with these small issues, this book was much needed, brilliantly executed, and long over due! If I were only allowed to use one word to describe the information brought to light, it would be "jarring". I will definitely read books by this author in the future. 

  30. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I’m a big old nerd, and I really like data. You know what’s interesting? Most of the data sets used globally to inform technological and scientific development, urban planning, and social, economic, and politically policy is inherently biased. Against women. We live in a world where we collect data on assumed averages and commonalities which almost consistently exclude women. The impacts of this are disturbingly far-teaching and ultimately contribute to the naturalisation of gender bias in all I’m a big old nerd, and I really like data. You know what’s interesting? Most of the data sets used globally to inform technological and scientific development, urban planning, and social, economic, and politically policy is inherently biased. Against women. We live in a world where we collect data on assumed averages and commonalities which almost consistently exclude women. The impacts of this are disturbingly far-teaching and ultimately contribute to the naturalisation of gender bias in all of our lives. This is an engaging, thorough, frustrating, essential read.

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