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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Singer

Invisible Women: Reviewing Criado Perez's Eye-Opening Book

A hand holding the book 'Invisible Women' by Caroline Criado Perez, on a colourful background

I read a lot, and there are few books that grab me quite like this one.

Granted, it is a topic I am very interested in, but I have learned so much from these 300 odd pages and have been raving about it ever since. 

Caroline Criado Perez explores the ‘gender data gap’. In summary, men are seen as the default in everything (examples incoming) and as a result, women are not consulted or considered, resulting in missing data about how certain aspects of the world are affecting women. The book is jam-packed full of data we do have, such as independent studies or testimonials that demonstrate just how big this problem is. While I am already recommending this book to just about everyone I know, if there are any doubters out there about the way women are treated, this book is for you.

There were examples in the book I was aware of (such as that women still do the vast majority of domestic work) and others that I had experienced, but hadn’t realised was a gender-specific issue. I sent passages to friends about topics we had discussed in passing to show them the data behind why we felt a certain way.

From sitting freezing in a WeWork office because office temperatures are based on male bodies, to not feeling comfortable at the gym due to its open layout, the book resonated in so many ways. Areas that didn’t resonate with me, such as misshaped PPE that don’t accommodate women’s breasts and machinery built to be too heavy for women to operate, helped to fan the flame I already had burning - women, we have it hard.

One thing that kept coming back to me that I think Criado Perez could have examined more, was the vicious cycle we find ourselves in:

Women do more of the domestic work, including cooking, cleaning, looking after children and relatives, food shopping, even buying birthday presents. Because of the ways in which the world (men) examine productivity and work, women are having to work longer days to compete with their male counterparts, leaving less social time after all that domestic work they have to do. 

All this domestic work, professional work, and strain mean it can take women longer to recover from illness and is increasing the numbers of ailments women may suffer from. Women are also less likely to be properly diagnosed or even believed by healthcare professionals, due to womens’ bodies not being learned about during training or used in drug trials (that’s right! Many of the drugs we’re taking have completely different effects on women). 

Again, all this work and illness and stress (and preconceptions about what makes a good worker) mean women are less likely to get promoted or even stay in the workforce. If a woman has a child, they are more likely to move to part-time work or leave the workforce as there is no adequate childcare available. In heterosexual relationships men often earn more so it makes ‘sense’ that they would continue to work full-time and leave the women to focus on childcare, due to and perpetuating everything I’ve mentioned. 

Women live longer than men (yippee!) but due to the toll on our bodies from decades of domestic work and the fact that financial systems like pensions don’t take into account womens’ breaks from work for care duties, women live out their last years in poorer health and with less finances saved. 

Young girls grow up seeing their women role models doing all this, doing the domestic work and leaving the workforce and getting unwell, and view that as their lot in life, taking care of the elderly role models when required. 

Something needs to break.

This book was both eye-opening and validating as a woman, something I have found to be quite rare in the feminist books I’ve read. The data speaks for itself, but paired with Criado Perez’s cool delivery means the conclusion is simply a no-brainer - women are currently invisible, and something needs to change.

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