Invisible Women Book Summary - Invisible Women Book explained in key points
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Invisible Women summary

Caroline Criado Perez

Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

4.6 (226 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

'Invisible Women' uncovers how gender data gap silences and disadvantages women in all aspects of life, including healthcare, education, the workplace, and public policy. It provides compelling evidence for the urgency of recognizing and correcting this pervasive bias.

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    Invisible Women
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    We are conditioned to view the male gender as the default and ignore or erase female experience.

    When archaeologists uncovered an armored Viking skeleton in Sweden in 1889, they assumed the bones belonged to a male warrior – despite the skeleton’s female pelvic bone. Worse, no one noticed the error for over 100 years! And the archaeologists’ assumption here wasn’t a one-off. Women are overlooked all the time because we’re conditioned to view male as the default gender.

    Our tendency to center maleness goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. In On the Generation of Animals (340 BC), he describes men as normal and women as aberrations. In anatomy, too, the male body was historically the default. The female body, when it was considered at all, was the exception. Some female organs, like the ovaries, weren’t even named until the seventeenth century.

    But gender bias isn’t just a thing of the past. Even something as contemporary as emojis, the world’s newest language, still privileges masculinity. All emojis are assigned by a single consortium, called Unicode. But it’s up to each emoji-supporting platform to determine how they depict Unicode’s emojis. Before 2016, Unicode didn’t assign genders to emoji symbols; they simply stipulated that emoji symbols should include, for example, a runner or a police officer. The platforms chose to depict male runners and male police officers. It was only when Unicode began to assign gendered emoji symbols that women and men achieved “emoji parity.”

    In many other aspects of contemporary life, though, representational parity is a long way off. From statues to banknotes to textbooks, representation skews male. In the UK, there are more statues of men named John than there are statues of all non-royal women put together! And when it comes to UK banknotes, there’s currently only one woman depicted – Jane Austen.

    This skewed representation is reinforced in education. In 2014, a study found that in grammar and language textbooks, references to men outnumber references to women 3:1.

    In fact, as we’ll see in the next blink, this bias affects every aspect of our lives, from the design of our cars and smartphones to local neighborhood authorities’ procedures for snow shoveling!

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    What is Invisible Women about?

    In Invisible Women (2019), Caroline Criado Perez argues that there is a “gender data gap” – that the bulk of the world’s data is based on male bodies and male behaviors. The result is a world that not only caters to men but often actively disadvantages women. Perez shows how the data underpinning everything from medicine and AI to the size of our smartphones fails to account for women’s needs. She explores the myriad problems this data gap causes and suggests how it might best be addressed.

    Invisible Women Review

    Invisible Women (2019) sheds light on the gender data gap and how it negatively affects women in all aspects of their lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Reveals the hidden biases and discrimination that women face in areas such as healthcare, employment, and public policy.
    • Provokes thought with its compelling research and examples that highlight the consequences of overlooking women's needs and experiences.
    • Raises awareness about the urgent need for gender-inclusive data and policies, making it an essential read for anyone interested in creating a fairer and more equitable society.

    Who should read Invisible Women?

    • Feminists of all genders
    • People interested in design, public policy, urban planning, AI and tech
    • Data scientists and analysts

    About the Author

    Caroline Criado Perez is a writer and feminist activist from the UK. She recently campaigned against the removal of the only woman other than the Queen from UK banknotes, and for more statues of female historical figures to be erected in London’s Parliament Square. She’s been honored with an OBE for her work promoting diversity and equality in the media.

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    Invisible Women FAQs 

    What is the main message of Invisible Women?

    The main message of Invisible Women is that gender data gaps lead to pervasive gender inequalities in all aspects of life.

    How long does it take to read Invisible Women?

    The reading time for Invisible Women varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Invisible Women a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Invisible Women is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that sheds light on the hidden biases and inequalities women face. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Invisible Women?

    The author of Invisible Women is Caroline Criado Perez.

    What to read after Invisible Women?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Invisible Women, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
    • AI for Business Leaders by Michael Ramsay
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    • From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks