Data, Damned Data and Statistics

Do you know who Caroline Criado Perez is?

You should. I first came across her when she had a run in over the ten pound note with the Bank of England. something about the failure to replace a woman – Elizabeth Fry – with another, rather than the proposed Charles Dickens.

She made a compelling argument about the male bias. I saw her point, if I thought it a little overdone.

But then she wrote a book. Eye opening. In clear careful argument it laid bare how all of us, how all aspects of our lives use the male as the default. It’s many years since language battles over gender have been fought – chair rather than chairman, batter rather than batsmen.

It’s a fair point, it’s only polite.

But it’s more than that. Worse than that. In so many ways, our instinctive referencing the male of the species as a default doesn’t just demean and lessened women’s impact, it can curtail their lives, make their health outcomes worse.

In Invisible Women, Criado Perez dissects, the home, the workplace, the doctor’s surgery, education, sport… the whole cat and caboodle.

It’s stunning, humbling and, frankly, shaming. I’ve sought to bring up my children equally but the numerous examples of my own, maybe unconscious, maybe innocent biases mean that I’ve failed with those I care for most.

And I will continue to fail, so ingrained are many of them.

Read Invisible Women, even if, like the author you already know the truth of the way insidious data pollutes any attempts to level the playing field. Arm yourself with the many examples and call it out, call yourself out. It matters not what sex or gender you ascribe to. If the world is going to work for we need sex disaggregated data. I’m certain you need to fight your way through the indoctrination we’ve all experienced and are continuing to perpetuate.

The blurby stuff…

Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued.  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.

Award-winning campaigner and writer 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 excluded from the very building blocks of the world we live in, and the impact this has on their health and wellbeing.   From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media – Invisible Women reveals the biased data that excludes women.  In making the case for change, this powerful and provocative book will make you see the world anew.

Sorry if this little polemic annoys or grates but… sorry not sorry. It’s too important to be left as it is.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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20 Responses to Data, Damned Data and Statistics

  1. Don’t forget space suits for astronauts!
    A lot of sports clothing is still unsuitable for women.
    I suppose I’m more aware of all this because I’m a woman but it’s good that someone has assembled all the information. Thanks for publicising!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It’s grimly fascinating exploring how the default male impacts so much and how gender neutral causes as many problems as not. Disaggregation of both data and interventions is the only way to make it work.

      Like

  2. noelleg44 says:

    Good reflection, Geoff. Unfortunately, I’ve been there and experienced all that. But keep your chin up! Things have improved a good deal in the last…40 years?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I think Ms Criado Perez point or points is that often at individual levels that is true but often doesn’t reflect all the way through every section of society. You might be surprised how little progress has been made in so many areas.
      And I will stay chin up and positive because I’m sure we are moving in the right direction, just never fast enough.

      Like

  3. I was listening to a radio programme this week where a very well known lady was recounting how she insisted on having the title of Chairman rather than the suggested “Chair”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Which is of course entirely fine and dandy – my mother was the same; it’s when those who’d prefer not are made to feel uncomfortable by asking/insisting on terminology being neutralised. I have many blind spots and it’s a bit of an education, listening to so many examples. Inevitably some are overdone or stretched to make a point, but generally it’s pretty damning

      Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It’s pretty measured, full of thought provoking examples (such as in your fair land it’s tax deductible to pay for a hotel room to stay over night of away on business but not for child care/babysitting because the default male mindset expects the wife to care, so if the parent – 75% female in terms of single carers – needs that support she can’t offset it so can’t go so may miss out in promotion etc). Grrr

      Liked by 1 person

  4. joylennick says:

    Well done, Geoff! Although I have been fortunate enough not to have experienced prejudice first-hand, I soon absorbed that the world wasn’t a fair place in many respects and I can recall feeling very sad in my teens when learning how some cultures and countries differed in their treatment of women. A lot has changed since then, but there is still a long way to go. Onwards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Indeed onwards. And of course the main point is no one should have to adjust for their sex and the fact you rose above it won’t be the same for all who might lose out because of the inherent male biases.

      Like

  5. Oh I do know who she is, and I do know this book! Consider seatbelts. Not designed for women’s bodies at all. Imagine the times on holiday when you are the passenger (with bosoms) when the driver tackles single track roads too fast and has to make a sudden stop. No names, no pack drill.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. petespringerauthor says:

    Society moves at a frustrating snail’s pace much of the time. It seems that it takes decades to rectify institutions and rules that are biased toward men. The fact that America (my country) likes to preach about equal justice under the law yet still hasn’t elected a female President tells you all you need to know about how far we still need to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I almost don’t want to read this book, because I know it’s going to make me feel uncomfortable. And that’s in spite of the fact that I was brought up in a household of women. When my parents split up, I was left with my mum and three sisters – but that also means all their friends, too. I was surrounded! But I do mean that in a good way. One of my sisters went on to run a charity that helped victims of domestic abuse, so I’ve been exposed to some of the more obvious atrocities. But I still catch myself saying or doing things that I question afterwards. In spite of my opening comment, I’ve already ordered the book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It is dense with detail, but so much is surprising and not in a good way. However, what is good is it has made me reappraise how statistics are used and whether the basis if their construction is flawed.

      Liked by 1 person

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