That a feminist’s book is awarded by the business world is very unlikely. But that’s what happened with ‘The invisible woman ‘ (Seix Barral) of Caroline Criado Perez. The unexpected ‘best seller’, (was for weeks among the best selling works in the UK), received in December the ‘Financial Times’ award for the business book of the year. A fabulous job, which speaks to people of sexism that is hidden in broad light“said the president of the jury. The” Simone de Beauvoir of the data, “he added, in praising the essay, which also received the Royal Society award for the best science book of 2019.
A heart attack error
With rigorous data and sometimes surprising examples, Criado Perez shows that in a world where man is the reference and the obvious model, women are discriminated against, without hardly perceiving it. And in some cases the consequences are serious. “In the United Kingdom there is a 50% more chance of women they are mistaken for a heart attack, because the trials have been done generally using men and the symptoms are different in women, “says the British writer, who receives to the newspaper in the offices of its editor in London. “It was a shock to me to discover that. It is not deliberate. Cardiologists do not exclude women because they want women to die. It was simply assumed that the masculine pattern served the entire human race and is not so.”
Human and economic cost
That pattern is evident when mobile phones or musical instruments are too big for a woman’s hand, or when designing the safety of a car, thought of the height and weight of a man, which increases the chances of women dying in an accident by almost 50%. “Taking the male model as a universal reference, as neutral, produces a basic distortion. It means that when things that are designed for everyone are designed, they are designed for them. That has a human and economic cost.”
The book starts with an unthinkable example. In 2011, city officials from the Swedish town of Karskoga decided to change the way to remove snow. If they used to give priority to major avenues and roads for motorists, then they began by cleaning the sidewalks and public transport routes. Both are more used by women, which they make more complicated journeys, because before going to work, they leave the children at school and on the way back they pass by the supermarket, for example. Before 2011, pedestrians suffered three times more falls in winter than motorists and more than two thirds were women. The estimated cost of these accidents in a single winter was about four million dollars. Changing priorities, because it is easier to drive a car with a few centimeters of snow than to drag the shopping bags or push a baby’s stroller, has ended up saving a lot of money. “The perspective of a man is no more universal than the perspective of a woman, but we are so used to seeing it that way that we do not even question it,” says the author, who spent three years collecting and assembling data.
Criado Pérez (Brazil 1984), invested with the Order of the British Empire for its work in favor of equality, is not a defender of lost causes. She wins them. He won the campaign he launched when the Bank of England announced that Winston Churchill would replace Elizabeth Fry on the five-pound notes. She was the only woman, except for the queen, who was on the bills. The journalist and feminist militant collected signatures, raised money and legally challenged the decision. Writer Jane Austen now appears on the ten-pound notes. He also managed to have a statue of the suffragette Millicent Fawcett erected in Parliament Square, where no woman was represented.
His book aspires to have a real impact. “Companies, public health, several governments have contacted me because they want to see how to better collect the data, how to change the process.” A basic problem is that “we remain stuck in the idea of selecting the best when looking for personnel. It is thought individually and not in what is lacking in the group so that there is diversity. The unquestionable proof is that if in a team there are only men they are going to make mistakes when designing or making decisions. “