- Title Invisible Women
- Author Caroline Criado Perez
- Year 2019
- Genres Non-Fiction, Feminism, Science
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.
I finished Invisible Women a while back, but it’s taken me a significant amount of time to think about how I can review it. It’s almost taken me as long to post this review as it did to listen to the book in the first place. I’ve already written a couple of blog posts about this book because it was so very interesting, and I just want to repeat a quote from the first one here:
I’m finding it hard going, not because of the book itself - it’s well written, researched and read - but because the unintended and far-reaching consequences of a simple lack of thinking weigh heavy on me. I’m having to listen in short bursts and then stop to do something else.
That lasted for the entirety of the book, and it’s because almost every single sentence is astounding. To rewind a little: the book is a non-fiction work that looks at the gender data gap, in simple terms, the fact that women are screwed every step of the way because the world thinks that male is the default.
Criado Perez does an incredible job of highlighting a wide variety of issues that I would never have thought of, and delves into what research has and hasn’t been done on the impact these problems have. But what I like most is that Perez really takes a good stance on this – obviously the fight for equality does have its enemies, but the issues we’re talking about here very rarely are done maliciously. It’s just that the data isn’t there, and everyone, women included, has been societally trained to consider the male form default.
Even something completely benign like clearing snow can be impacted (because roads are cleared first, whereas more women will be using the pavements and thus affected and more likely injured by the icy conditions). It’s stuff like that which would never even cross my mind, but even things I do know I’ve never really considered properly. Of course I know that women always end up queuing for the toilets but why is that? Architects may have gone to the effort of providing equal floor space to men’s and women’s facilities, but women take longer for a variety of reasons (body differences, looking after children, dealing with pregnancy or periods or other such things).
That second one has also made me realise that equality is not about being given exactly the same thing. Women don’t fit into “normal” seat belts or the “default” body armour. It’s not about being given equal things, it’s about being given equal opportunities and that actually might mean being treated differently. The chapters about medical research and the simple solutions that have been overlooked because they don’t fit male defaults really made my blood boil.
I could probably write and write endlessly about this book, but really I don’t need to. Perez has done the job far better than I could have. All I can do is encourage everyone, women, men and anyone in between, to give it a read or listen and do so with an open mind. It’s not pointing fingers, it’s just highlighting the problems that need to be looked at. And when you’ve read it, recommend it to others. Spread the word.
Rating: 5 / 5