Review: The Invisible Women, C. Criado Pérez

Rating: 5 out of 5

It’s impossible to define how good this book is. This is not because the content cannot be objectively evaluated, but because most criticism that is easy to let fly would be not driven by the content, i.e., the statistics and facts that the author presents, but rather by superficial comments. I think there may very well be some statistical or factual errors in such a work, but these won’t affect the message that the author is trying to get across: the world is designed unfairly for (at least) half the people who live in it.

From a layman’s perspective, I wish more space had been dedicated to stories explaining the statistics. The numbers were all astonishing, but the most effectual for me were the stories where the author described how aid organisations got developmental procedures entirely wrong as well as how the addition of a single woman into a team could change the perspective of that team completely (in many cases making it much more successful at answering customer needs).

The other (regretful) problem is that such a book, no matter how long, can only address so many complaints. The author has wisely chosen to focus on the most important potential readers, i.e. the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries other than these feature: Sweden is often brought as a point of comparison, Austria (Vienna to be exact) is mentioned in good terms regards to city planning, and Japan of course comes through the story every now and then as well. However, for a native of someone other than the UK or the US, the question after reading this book is: how bad is the situation in my place? The answer, in all likelihood, is that it is pretty bad—and one can certainly hope that more science is dedicated to the inclusivity of women everywhere in the future.

I consider this an essential read. The problems I noted above are with the form—in a sense we could have endless local versions of this that track how our regions are managing to improve in time—and not the content. As a large-scale introduction into the topic, Ms Criado Pérez’ work is, however, vital for anyone who even utters the word “equality”.

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