cover image Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Caroline Criado Perez. Abrams, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2907-2

Feminist activist and journalist Criado Perez (Do It Like a Woman) exposes a persistent and disturbing data gap that contributes to discomfort, poverty, and risk for women. An assumption that “male” traits and experience are universal, she argues, is both cause and consequence of skewed designs in public spaces, government, medical studies, and the workforce. She produces solid evidence that the white male default infiltrates everything from artificial intelligence algorithms to disaster relief in Europe, Asia, and North America, leading to police officers who can’t find protective gear that fits them, cellphone users whose devices are too large for their hands, and gender-neutral parental-leave policies that unwittingly disadvantage workers who have recently given birth or are primary caregivers. She draws on new research and interviews with experts in such disciplines as city planning that suggest considering women’s needs in designs is more cost-effective, as well as more just. Criado Perez handles this material with subtle wit, calm authority, and a tendency to turn toward solutions. The book inaccurately treats womanhood as interchangeable with certain traits or experiences—like small stature, having given birth to one’s children, or facing gender discrimination in professional settings—which will turn off some readers. But this is still a provocative, vital book. (Mar.)