Author: Caroline Criado Perez
Quote: “When we exclude half of humanity from the production of knowledge we lose out on potentially transformative insights.”
Setting: Global, Present
Premise: How many times have you, either as a woman yourself or as someone talking to a person with double X chromosomes, heard phrases like ‘Oh I can’t do DIY, I’m not strong enough, or ‘I want to go for a run but it’s going to be dark soon’. The world we live in was designed by men, for men and as a result, is inherently biased against women. From power tools which are designed by default for the average male handspan to medication that was only ever tested on XY chromosome mice, and to urban planning which throws obstacles into the working woman’s life, this book exposes why ‘I’m sorry I’m just really bad at xyz’ should actually be ‘I’m sorry but this thing was not designed for someone like me.’
As an engineer I was immediately drawn to the title of this book, in fact, it was recommended to me by a fellow female engineer, and it was a mind-blowing read! This book has probably been one of the single most powerful books I have ever read. No longer do I berate myself for being bad at things, instead, I look objectively at the situation and think – what about this is causing the problem and is it really my fault? To say this book has been life-altering is an understatement. My only complaint about this book is that the title does indeed lend itself just to women and people in STEM/ people confident with the idea of data when really every person needs to read this book. Male, female, left-brained, right-brained. This is a book about humanity as a whole (basically for anyone who is not a perfectly proportioned, 70kg, XY chromosomed, caucasian, straight male-identified, non-caregiving person).
The writing style of this book is enthusiastic and fact-laden, some people claim it’s a little heavy because of all the appropriately referenced facts and analysis, but if you are struggling with the written version then I highly recommend the audiobook instead. The contents of this book are mindblowing, and you may even feel things (especially if you’re male) that butt up against your core beliefs. You can see this resistance in the amazon reviews where (predominantly) male reviewers have gone into long droning rants in an attempt to discredit this book. However, the point is this book highlights some very, very important issues. Issues that women should be aware of so they can stop beating themselves up. From the fact that women’s pain is often discredited by medical professionals, to how the traditional working week deliberately excludes primary caregivers from the working force, this book has important facts which everyone needs to hear.
The theme of the book is one of hope. The author quite clearly hopes that by writing this book and highlighting this data bias, things will change – for men and women, and for the better. And she’s not wrong, off the back of this book the UK government have launched an entire inquiry into ‘the female experience’ and where things can be improved.
I can’t recommend this book enough, no matter who you are. If you believe yourself to be on the side of humanity (not feminism, not equality – I mean actual humanity as a species), read this book, accept the challenges it might present you, and make a difference – big or small. And if you’re a scientist or engineer, this book is a lesson in professionalism and what happens when we let our biases win.
You’ve heard enough about how much I like this book, but is this book you’re hunting for?
- Are you ready for mind blowing revelations about the world we live in?
- Are you on the side of improving life for all of humanity?
- Do you want ideas on how to change the world?
If you answered yes, yES, YES! Then this might well be your next favourite read!