Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

Finished: August 15, 2020

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As a self-sustaining entity of a book, I didn't enjoy it that much. The narrative jumped around a lot, some of the arguments were either hard to follow or just jumped to conclusions, and the writing itself wasn't amazing. That being said, this book opened me up to so many new thinking spaces, and it was very influential in introducing me to so many new directions I can take my future career. So, in a way, very influential. This book reminded me that a dream or goal of working on lessening and improving the data gap is feasible, and that there is still so much work to be done, and that this is definitely a space that I can work in.

Some of my main takeaways:

  • So many things in the world are designed with men as the default, women as the other (bathrooms, seatbelt standards, roads, room temperatures, etc).
  • There is a huge data gap - many people are not collecting data about women, or if they are, not sex-aggregating data, so it is difficult to know if and how women react differently to different medicines, products, etc.
  • For data that is collected on women, women are often seen as the outlier or the "weird" product (for example, when they are on their period and have hormonal imbalances)
  • Women perform so much unpaid care in the world, and so much of it is not accounted for or just taken advantage of. Whenever a state cuts budgets, usually the first things to go are childcare, preschools, elder cares - things that benefit women the most (and usually end up with women taking on more work and unpaid labor)

"Yes, simple is easier. Simple is cheaper. But simple doesn't reflect reality." (315)

At the end, Perez mentions three themes that define women's relationship with the world

  1. Female body and its invisibility: Routinely forgetting to accomodate the female body in design
  2. Female body and its visibility: Male sexual violence against women, how it is not measured, how we do not design our world to account for it
  3. Women's unpaid care work