May 11, 2021

Ten samples of how women have been relegated to being invisible – La Provincia


The world we live in has been designed by and for men. Yes, in masculine. And while the violet tide is preparing for a new and combative 8-M, gender inequalities remain entrenched in our reality. The data give proof of this. Violence against women continues to wreak havoc. The wage gap between men and women persists to this day, while they, in addition, carry up to 75% of the invisible and unpaid work involved in caring for the home and family. But that is not all.

Sole protagonists

The story we have built on the history of humanity also revolves around them, highlighting their achievements as the only protagonists. Even science, that seemingly neutral and impartial estate, has advanced taking as reference the knowledge provided by men, thus creating a biased knowledge that distorts the truthfulness and applicability of its results.

British journalist and activist Caroline Criado Pérez summarizes the origin and consequences of many of these (more or less conscious) biases in the acclaimed book The Invisible Woman (Seix Barral).

“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 author explained. Daily a few weeks ago on the occasion of the presentation of his book.

And it is that much of the sexism that persists to this day is based on the (wrong) idea that we live in a neutral world.

Caucasian man

But neither humans are totally objective nor are data impartial. Much of the knowledge we have about our species and, above all, about our health, part of studies in which the mold of a Caucasian man, between 25 and 30 years and about 70 kilos, has been taken as a reference. And so far it has been the image of the reference human being in charge of representing all others, thus creating a fragmented and little inclusive knowledge.

Man and humanity

This basic bias has also distorted the ideas that shape our worldview. If not, just look at how one speaks of the “history of man” as a synonym for “history of mankind.” And not only. Proof of this, these 10 stories that show how women remain invisible in a world of men.

10 SAMPLES

1 They painted the rock works

The lack of information is filled with prejudices. And when the stories of the past lack information about the gender of their protagonists, it is assumed that these were men. The cave paintings have been attributed to the men of the tribe because, since hunting scenes were represented in these, it was assumed that both the task and its representation should be their work. Studies on the issue show that the majority of Neolithic artists were women. Up to 75% of the tracks found in caves in Spain and France belonged to females.

2 Without public toilets in Mumbai

These conscious biases are translated into reality, increasing inequalities. Access to sanitary facilities also suffers the effect of the gender gap. In Mumbai, while male public urinals are counted by thousands, more than half of women residing in the city do not have a public toilet. This problem, which affects more than two million people, implies that young women have to do their needs outdoors at night or in remote places, being exposed to risk situations such as theft, intimidation or rape.

3 A poorly designed work environment

Some studies suggest that many offices have design problems that make it difficult for women to access, such as doors that are too heavy, stairs or glass floors that can bother people who wear skirts or cobblestones that are too narrow to walk in heels. . The temperature of these spaces also presents another bias, since the calculations to establish the ideal measure have been established according to the needs of a man of about 40 years and about 70 kilos. This calculation creates a cooler five degree environment for women.

4 Large mobiles and small pockets

Some studies argue that the size of mobile phones, increasingly large, does not adapt to the needs of women. The average width of the span of them is between 18 and 20 centimeters, while the new screens already exceed 14 centimeters. To this difference it must be added that many of the garments designed for women barely have pockets in which these devices fit. A journalistic investigation by Pudding.cool calculated that only 40% of the front pockets of women’s pants can comfortably house a mobile.

5 No real security protocols

Although the protocols on occupational safety have advanced, there is hardly any data on the effects of some work traditionally performed by women. This is the case, for example, of the lack of knowledge about the consequences of long-term exposure to chemicals used for cleaning. Some jobs calculate that a person dedicated to caring for the elderly could lift more weight in a day than a miner or a construction worker. And without instructions on how to perform all these procedures without causing physical damage.

6 Children, park owners

The presence of girls in the parks decreases from a certain age. While in the first years of life boys and girls share space evenly, from the age of 10 the little ones seem to disappear from the playing field. Everything indicates that games typically dominated by children, such as football or other activities that require space, are responsible for creating an environment of competition that ends with the exclusion of them. Hence, it is proposed to divide these spaces into smaller portions so that everyone finds their place.

7 Why do you forget women’s tennis?

The risk of placing man as a reference is that history also revolves exclusively around their successes. When in 2013 tennis player Andy Murray achieved a victory in Wimbledon, his achievement was reported as the first British victory in 77 years, counting as a precedent the victory of Fred Perry in 1935. This narrative forgot the triumph of British tennis player Virginia Wade in 1977. In this line, Murray was also praised for being the first to win two Olympic tennis medals, although by then Venus and Serena Williams had already won four each.

8 More options in the blind selection

The presence of women in prestigious institutions also suffers the voluntary or involuntary effects of this gender gap. The New York Philharmonic, for example, hardly had women in its orchestra until blind auditions were imposed as a method of selection. This change in criteria meant an increase in the hiring of women, which already accounts for almost half of the orchestra. It has also been observed that scientific articles in which the identity (and gender) of the authors are hidden often create a gender gap smaller than usual.

9 Uniforms that do not fit

Uniforms designed for the armed forces, created from a unisex mold, only correctly adapt to the physiognomy of male soldiers. The women of these institutions denounce gun sleeves that do not fit well at the hips, uncomfortable straps, too wide boots and vests that do not adapt to the shape of the chest. Or special devices that only work optimally on one type of thick skin. The poor adaptation of these suits hinders the work of up to 57% of professionals in the sector, as some estimates suggest.

10 Unprotected by the tests

Design errors go beyond something anecdotal. The design of cars, seats, belts and even airbags (and other safety devices) starts with male models as a reference. And the road safety tests that are carried out to test these components are based on tests with mannequins that emulate the body, height and weight of an average man. The results obtained from this process, biased from its starting point, could leave all those who do not fit in this mold unprotected. Especially women.

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