In February, an excerpt from a new book went viral. In Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, writer Caroline Criado Perez explores the gender data gap and how a lack of research into the needs of women has led to a world designed exclusively for men. Now, a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to send this important book to every MP in the UK.
Tracy King is the woman behind the GoFundMe page. As well as knowing Criado Perez personally, she also has a deeper insight into the problem through her work on women in tech. "As a writer and producer in the fields of STEM and medicine, I've attended All-Party Parliamentary Group meetings for women's health and women in STEM, where politicians and industry leaders work together to improve society for women," she said in a statement. "In order for change to happen, our elected leaders must be educated about the gender gap."
The so-called gender data gap, which Criado Perez uncovered after three years of research, didn't come as a shock to most women. But reading that everything from shelf heights and phone sizes to the safety of cars have been designed with only a male body in mind validated feelings that women had kept bottled up for years. "We knew we were second class citizens but we couldn't prove it before," King told Mashable.
King believes that people in politics have the power to change the course of history. For example, "the government funds a huge amount of medical research, and they could make it mandatory to have gender equality in your research funding proposal," King explained to Mashable. "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.'"
Currently, there are 650 MPs sitting in Westminster. With the help of Waterstones (which is offering a discount of half-price on the book), King wants to ensure every single one has access to a copy.
It's true that MPs could just go and buy their own book, but, as King states, this is unlikely. "The exposure and pressure this campaign will bring helps to ensure they read it," she noted in a statement. "If women make enough noise, they can't ignore us."
King's crowdfunding target is £6,750, and almost £2,000 has already been raised. If the goal isn't met, King will prioritise MPs who "sit on relevant committees and oversee the laws and regulations that affect women." Bu, if more than £6,750 is raised, she will go further than politicians and send copies of the book to other influential people such as industry leaders.
It's vital that this book is seen by as many men as women. After all, it's unlikely that male decision makers have ever noticed the everyday discrimination that women face. They probably haven't had to put themselves at risk of injury due to an ill-fitting design, for example, or deal with a severe lack of medical options.
Time to lift the lid of Pandora's box.