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

Book cover to Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Criado-Pérez delves into the data or rather, often, absence of data or data disaggregated by gender in order to show to the readers how that creates problematic and sexist experiences for women throughout the world from the (literal) playground to the urban setting to refugee encampments to the corporate office to even democratic countries. Like color-blindness, Criado-Pérez shows that when we approach our world--a world that historically privileged men and men's preferences--with gender-blindness, we often default to what we consider is the norm; always forgetting that the norm does preference males throughout our society. This is less about the pay-gap and more about the structural features that make the modern world harder for women because men are the default. A primary example she draws out early on about this is the mere idea of prioritizing snow removal. Typically, snow-removal is prioritized around driving and in doing so, it creates more complications and challenges for women who are less likely to have vehicles, more likely to be needing to do various trips (often as the default care-taker, going to drop kids off, run errands, etc), and more often ending with injuries from traversing snowy/icy terrains. By privileging cars (themselves increasingly made safer for snowy conditions as well as be climate-controlled), municipalities allocate more resources and attention to the car-drivers (more often men) and the assumption of their getting to (paying) work is more important than the myriad (unpaying) work that many women still must due when in heterosexual and familial relationships. It's examples (and there are hundreds of them in this book) that makes Criado-Pérez's point so strongly felt by the end and worth reading about. If we are to actually recognize that women are an equal part to our society, it means we need to more systematically include and add emphasis to addressing (male-dominated) norms and assumptions in our world.

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