A writer, broadcaster, and feminist activist exposes a global knowledge gap in data pertaining to gender.
Criado Perez (Do It Like a Woman…and Change the World, 2015), who was named Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year in Britain in 2013, takes on the challenge of telling the story of the unknown, addressing countless ways in which data about women have been—and continue to be—left out of research that informs everything from daily life to public policy. The author provides an incisive narrative paced more like a novel than a scientific study, offering digestible information with a sharp dose of wit. From heart attack symptoms to usage of public transportation, women’s patterns don’t always replicate men’s. However, like algorithms seeking simplicity, researchers may set aside differences as “atypical,” thus missing the data-rich point that while women’s perspectives aren’t necessarily problematic, ignoring them is. Painting a portrait out of negative space—this is “a story about absence—and that sometimes makes it hard to write about”—Criado Perez draws attention to information gaps in fields as diverse as urban planning, tax law, design, medicine, technology, disaster relief efforts, and politics. In focusing on how research has ignored, obscured, or failed to address gender differences, the author offers a balance of statistics, provocative questions, and concise assessments of systemic bias and how to address it. She pinpoints how the personal and the political intersect in these data gaps, providing a lens to interrogate gender-neutral defaults and reveling in examples of how including women (sometimes a single woman) quickly “solves” persistent problems. In clear language, the author builds a strong case for greater inclusion with this thoughtful and surprisingly humorous view of institutional bias and gendered information gaps.
While some readers may suggest that equality has arrived and gender no longer matters, this book, which should have wide popular appeal, is a solid corrective to that line of thought.