The real-world ramifications of the gender data gap are all around, us all the time.
From the size of the phone currently in your palm, to the temperature of the office you’re sitting in, to the way your car has been built, to the way the medicine you take has been made.
A new book by feminist campaigner and author Caroline Criado Perez has uncovered the dangers of not collecting data about women, and the fact that data bias is putting women’s lives at risk.
A new GoFundMe campaign led by writer and activist Tracy King aims to send a copy of the book — Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men — to every MP in the country in the hope that lawmakers will take action about this important issue.
The campaign aims to crowdfund enough money to send a copy of the book to every MP with the aim of getting them to read it and take tangible action. King told Mashable she believes Criado Perez’s book has the power to change the world, which is why it’s important our lawmakers are aware of the extent of data bias’ impact.
Criado Perez spent three years researching and writing the book, which brings together a wealth of information about the dangers of the lack of sex-disaggregated data — data specific to women. The consequences of not collecting data about women means that urban planning, medicine, transportation, policy, design, manufacturing, and engineering are all overlooking women’s needs.
“We knew we were second-class citizens but we couldn’t prove it before.”
King says the reason the book has already proved hugely resonant before it was even published is because women have been going through life with the knowledge that these problems already existed. “We sort of already know this, we low-level know, but we never had the proof before,” says King. “Women just went, ‘oh thank goodness, there’s proof,'” she adds. “We knew we were second-class citizens but we couldn’t prove it before.”
It goes without saying that it’s important that women, the people affected by the data gap, are aware of the book, but it also needs to fall into the hands of people in power who can do something about the data gap, says King.
“The decision-makers, the people in power, they’re the ones who make the laws, the regulations, and the policies that directly affect women, how things are built, and how things are made,” says King. “And they need to read this book, they need to know the book exists.”
The GoFundMe campaign needs to hit its £6,750 goal in order to purchase enough books to send to all 650 members of parliament.
“I don’t fool myself into believing all 650 MPs are definitely gonna sit down and diligently read the book and then do something. If we don’t ask, we don’t try, and if we make enough noise, then some of them, the important ones who’re the decision makers in the areas that affect women in engineering and STEM, they might do something.”
“Every law, policy of regulation that the government touches, I want them to be thinking about how that impacts women.”
King feels that female MPs will likely be interested to read the book because they “recognise the issue,” but she would like to see male MPs read the book because they might not be aware of the scale of the data gap. “It’s the ultimate way to force them to check their privilege,” says King.
In an ideal world, King hopes that MPs will start looking at the laws, regulations, and policies that disadvantage women.
“The government funds a huge amount of medical research, and they could make it mandatory to have gender equality in your research funding proposal,” says King. “Big changes could be effected if people in power decided, ‘well ok, you can’t have government funding for something if you’re not considering women.'”
“I want every law, policy of regulation that the government touches, I want them to be thinking about how that impacts women,” says King. “Do a gender impact assessment as default.”