The pronoun “he” is often used as the default to mean “he or she”, but many people picture a man when they hear it.
British activist and author Caroline Criado Perez delves into data that show how the world has been largely built for and by men.
Smartphones do not fit easily in a woman’s palm; only 13% of non-human characters on children’s TV are female; women are more likely to die from heart attacks due to unequal treatment because it’s not well-publicised that female heart attacks have different symptoms than male heart attacks.
“There is plenty of data showing that women have, on average, smaller hands than men, and yet we continue to design equipment around the average male hand as if one-size-fits-men is the same as one-size-fits-all. This one-size-fits-men approach to supposedly gender-neutral products is disadvantaging women,” Criado Perez writes in Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.
While acknowledging that the book offers endless nuggets to chew on, science writer Angela Saini, author of Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story, observes that an equal world can only be one in which people change.
Reviewing Criado Perez’s book for The Guardian, Saini writes: “The power of data to shame people into making society fairer, it seems, goes only so far. Beyond a certain point, it’s difficult not to conclude that they don’t particularly care. What should worry us more than the data gap, then, is that huge and seemingly intractable don’t-give-a-damn gap.”