Unconscious bias is something we’re all becoming more attuned to. It’s manifested itself most visibly in the workplace, with the response to the gender pay gap opening the lid on how unconscious bias has held women back. In her latest book, Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez leaves no stone unturned to look at other ways in which a world designed by men continues to disadvantage women. This is down to what Perez refers to as the ‘default male’. And boy does he dominate society’s data sources. From technology to medicine, we revert back to this singular reference point to the detriment of women everywhere. This is why our phones are too big for our hands and there always seems to be a never-ending queue in the women’s toilets. Perez’s work is monumental in pulling together these micro-inequities to build a bigger picture on how unconscious bias is impacting women’s livelihoods, comfort and safety. The headline statistics are shocking. Women are 47% more likely to be injured and 17% more likely to die in a car crash than men because it’s not a legal requirement to test a female dummy in the driver's seat. While there is a regulatory test that uses a female dummy in the passenger seat, it is not anthropometrically correct. It is essentially a scaled-down male, which means crucial biological differences aren’t registered and the correct safety mechanisms aren’t put in place. Can we just stop for a second and reflect on that? It’s 2019 and women are dying because it hasn’t been deemed necessary to design safe vehicles for 50% of the population. Perez’s research shows the road ahead for achieving equality. For every prejudice she addresses and pattern she exposes, she is creating an opportunity. Without visibility, there is no advocacy. And without advocacy, there is no change. So let’s take up the mantle. Let’s use data to empower ourselves, free women from the curse of the ‘default male’ and build a world where we can actually grip our bloody phones properly.
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. Penguin, 2019.