Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

Invisible Women:
Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Caroline Criado Perez

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Vintage

Published : 2020

Copyright : Caroline Criado Perez 2019

ISBN-10 : PB 1-78470-628-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-78470-628-9

Publisher's Write-Up

Imagine a world where...

· Your phone is too big for your hand
· Your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body
· In a car accident you are 47% more likely to be injured.

If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman. Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.

From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women. Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact this has on their health and well-being.

In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.

'This book is a devastating indictment of institutionalised complacency and a rallying cry to fight back… Invisible Women should propel women into action. It should also be compulsory reading for men.'

Sunday Times
Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Chrissi (010521) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Book Source: Purchased
Rating 8/10

After one of our book group members read this and enthused about it, it was chosen for our January meeting. We were warned ahead of the meeting that it might induce fits of apoplectic rage at the contents therein… it was right that we were warned.

This is a book that anyone with daughters or wives or sisters should read. It is a look at the world that we live in that has been designed by data. That should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? Evidence based changes should be improvements, shouldn’t they? Ahh, actually, no. The data is only considered useful from groups with consistent predictable behaviours which allow extrapolation to make use of the data. Unfortunately, this precludes a large section of the population whose lives are regarded as too chaotic and liable to periodic change to be neatly accommodated, giving rise to the title Invisible Women, this section of society is ignored as the data is not neat and tidy.

It may not have been intentional or malicious, it is not an overnight phenomenon. It has been going on for as long as people have collected information about human behaviours. The data collectors looked at people like themselves, a working population who get up in a morning, have breakfast, kiss their family goodbye, get in the family car and drive the shortest distance to work. They park and enter their place of work, where they remain until they get in the car and drive home by the shortest route to their family, eat a meal and spend the evening in leisure thoroughly deserved after their hard day of earning a crust for their family. Sounds a bit of a 1950s Norman Rockwell vision doesn’t it?

Well, consider the alternative, a day in the life of the other adult in the household…

Get up, make breakfast for the family, clear up the home, take small humans to school either walking or on a bus, visit elderly family member on the other side of town, shop for food, return home, clean and do washing, go and fetch small humans, make tea, and tidy and clean kitchen, prepare for following morning.

This traditional model leaves one gender with a designed leisure time, and one without… the bulk of unpaid social care, both of the elderly and young humans falls mainly to women. Therein lies the problem with this book. It is not altogether fair to say that it is only women who are ignored in data, it is anyone with a ‘non-traditional’ lifestyle.

Whilst anyone can name a variety of places where there is an imbalance in society, (low paid, undervalued caring professions) it is the consequences of these imbalances in the use of the data that are incredibly interesting. Traditional transport models and networks are designed for the ‘to and from’ work model used by the person travelling to a fixed place of work, giving a hub and spoke arrangement of public transport, but the public transport is mainly used by the people meeting the needs of the family, short journeys between school, shops, and the residences of family members. This is a chaotic data handling process whose inconsistencies make modelling very difficult so in the interests of ‘meaningful’ data, it is ignored. So, there is a hole where useful information on the lives of half of the population should be.

Not just in transport modelling, (a literal life or death issue for women, with predators scheduling privilege) but in healthcare (pesky hormones are too difficult to model), building and community design (who needs access to kitchens), car design (this one is dreadful, the outcomes of injury for women in a collision are much worse) and pretty much any sphere of our lives.

The problem is the simplification that all people may be considered male. But this is not even an oversimplification, it is plain wrong. Women’s bodies are different to those of men, the skeletons and muscle attachments are different, it is not just a matter of size. Women with children are confined to part time jobs which permit ‘child-friendly’ hours, for child-friendly, read ‘low-paid’ and ‘easily replaceable’ with other people in a similar position, so it follows that you can also read ‘undervalued’.

It is not malicious, it is just lazy data collection, so now we should all ask about the data that is used to shape our lives. Unfortunately, the normal reaction in sane humans to statistics is scepticism followed shortly by a huge great yawn, but we should want better. Lazy data collection is not to be tolerated as it is not reasonable to ignore an entire half of the population because our individual lives make us ‘niche’.

Now, I do acknowledge that there will be a difficulty in reading this for anyone whose perceived privilege is threatened, people reading this will need an open mind, it may raise issues never previously thought of, and in response to this I would point out that most people in the world have been unaware of these issues so why should you be any different? But after reading it, then you should be angry too. If you read this and think it does not apply to you because we have equal rights and opportunities then you have missed the point. The feminism movement is separate to the data that rules our lives, whether you regard yourself as a feminist or not, the data rules our lives, and incomplete data deprives everyone of opportunity.

I suppose that I should have started with a warning. It is a book that will make you angry, and sad and ultimately it should make us demand better. For all our girls and boys and the lives and improving the communities. For a better future for all.

One last point to note is the book contains an awful lot of statistical information; please do not be put off by it, it is not the actual figures that are the point here, the overall lasting impression on the reader is the important thing. It is enough if it causes you to think ‘hang on a minute, where did this come from’ – it makes more sense when I tell you that a female version of Viagra was tested on a group of 25, comprising 23 men and 2 women… feel free to ponder that a moment or just face-palm .
Chrissi (1st May 2021)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends