Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – book by Caroline Criado Perez

I found this book fascinating. Despite its modest title, ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ by Caroline Criado Perez, it’s a real page-turner.

Before now, I never really considered how much I have to adapt my female body to fit into a world that is predominantly designed for male bodies. I can understand how anyone reading that sentence might be puzzled about how much of a problem this actually is, and if it even exists as a problem. When you start reading the book, however, the light bulbs start going off in your head one after the other.

Female bodies are more complex than male bodies, because we have a reproductive system that requires more machinery and workings than simply producing sperm. Females are generally smaller than males, and have less musculoskeletal strength. It’s not a design flaw, it’s just how women – 51% of the population – are designed. Personally, although I’m happy with being female, I certainly wouldn’t have put my hand up for all the female things that female bodies have. But it’s what we’ve got – and it tends to be considered problematic.

Speaking only for myself, I’ve always felt a little ripped off that male bodies got the physical strength they did, while female bodies dipped out comparatively speaking. I do realise that it’s to do with efficiency – it would take a lot of fuel to keep a reproductive system and a big musculoskeletal system all in one body powered up, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling a little ripped off all the same. As I read further into Invisible Women, though, and got to understand how the male body has been regarded as the default human body since forever, and the female body as the lesser one, it dawned on me that the only ‘problem’ with my smaller, weaker, more complex female body was that the human-made world isn’t designed for it. After all, everything functions more smoothly when all the bits and bobs are working in synergy with each other.

I borrowed this book from the library, but liked it so much for all the information in it based on actual stats and data, I bought it as a valuable reference book. Here’s some blurb from Book Depository and Amazon about it –

Blurb from Book Depository


‘HELL YES. This is one of those books that has the potential to change things – a monumental piece of research’ Caitlin Moran

Imagine a world where…

* Your phone is too big for your hand
* Your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body
* In a car accident you are 47% more likely to be injured.

If any of that sounds familiar, chances are you’re a woman.

From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, and the media. Invisible Women reveals how in a world built for and by men we are systematically ignoring half of the population, often with disastrous consequences. Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the profound impact this has on us all.

Discover the shocking gender bias that affects our everyday lives.

‘A book that changes the way you see the world’ Sunday Times

‘Revelatory, frightening, hopeful’ Jeanette Winterson

Blub from Amazon

Winner of the 2019 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award Winner of the 2019 Royal Society Science Book Prize Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives. Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women​, diving into women’s lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more. Built on hundreds of studies in the US, the UK, and around the world, and written with energy, wit, and sparkling intelligence, this is a ground breaking, unforgettable exposé that will change the way you look at the world.

6 thoughts on “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – book by Caroline Criado Perez

  1. Fascinating stuff, Katrina. Thanks for posting on this. The patriarchy is a presumptuous lot, are they not? From ergonomics to economics, or any other important matters that are matters of life and death — you drive to the hospital and you have that 47% increased risk, at the hospital the assumptions that all bodies are equivalent provide the data that can quickly become deadly. My partner Lisa would not be alive today if she had not asserted these crucial differences disappear in the data. Arrogance made invisible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It happens in all situations, Bill. Even well-meaning men don’t realise the bias they enact (which can be said about all of us in certain situations, I realise). I didn’t even know about it consciously until recently, either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some years ago it was observed by a female designer that most kitchen and bathroom counters are too high for the majority of women because male architects and builders set the height for themselves, not thinking about the fact that kitchens tend to be used most frequently by women. It’s not unusual then for women to suffer from backaches and joint injuries as the result of standing at a counter too high for them to work at properly. Same with desks and work stations and even operating tables set too high for female surgeons to work at.

    I don’t know if the book addresses those issues, but I’m interested in reading it. I have carpal tunnel in the right hand from working at an improperly set computer desk for many years. Now I have my own customized desk at home, but the injury is permanent, even with all the physical therapy I’ve received over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t remember the book specifically addressing those issues, although it’s very interesting to hear about them. The book does address multiple issues, however, and you may find it quite edifying.


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