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Invisible Women : Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. By Caroline Criado Perez

What is it about?

It exposes, in fascinating and terrifying ways the lack of consideration for women in almost every single sphere of our life. From government decisions on transport to car safety measures to rifles in the armed forces – it exposes a world built for men, by men – and the damage this has done and continues to do not just to women to all of society. A truly incredible book and one I’d thoroughly recommend. Reading it I got the same sense of awe and “you’re kidding me!?” that I got when a student and reading books by Malcolm Gladwell for the first time – a real awakening moment.

Key takeaways:

· Transport decisions, especially road building ( and including the deployment of snow ploughs!) are all designed to facilitate men getting to and from their places of work – while women who are often involved in different professions have to go out of their way, using the ‘male’ network to get to their destinations.

· Crash test dummies were previously based on ‘average passengers’ which just so happened to be the average male, not woman – so car safety standards did not reflect (and still do not) the true impact that collisions can have on women. More women die in crashes of equal size and circumstance than men do even today because cars are simply not designed with the female body in mind.

· Policy making is made with men in mind, from the temperature in work places (women need it slightly warmer than men) to holiday time.

· Piano keyboards are designed with the male in mind – to be played effectively the musician must have a certain width to their hands – all expert piano players have large hands and there are only two women who achieve this status – and they both have abnormally large hands for a woman (e.g. they have the same size hands as men).

· Under representation in government and academia perpetuates this cycle of male dominated thinking, it is usually a blind bias, but it is one that prevents solutions that a female may find natural but which men cannot see. An excellent example is of the female physician who solved a key problem that had been perplexing men for generations – simply because the solution resembled the same process involved in knitting crochet.

The key take away from the book really was that even when there is no active policy of sexism being pursued there is a staggering number of ways in which this male dominated blind bias is leading to a world unfit for women. Every politician and business leader, male and female, needs to read this. Now.

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