Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

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...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Author:Caroline Criado Pérez
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men Reviews

  • 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 facts 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 th

    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!

  • 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.

  • 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

    . 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

    . 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.

  • 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 tim

    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

    . She cites numerous examples of individuals and organizations who are actively

    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.

  • 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

    ) – 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.

  • Anna

    I decided to read ‘Invisible Women’ after coming across

    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

    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:

    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

    . 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 dude

    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.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.