Men are often the default subjects of design, which can have a huge impact on big and critical aspects of everyday life. Caroline Criado Perez is the author of Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, a book about how data from women is ignored and how this bakes in bias and discrimination in the things we design.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars. The issue is about a design flaw. That might be I am not exaggerating here the single most common design. Far in human history, it potentially affects everything we have ever built. Its consequences are felt by. More than half of people worldwide, and most people don't even notice it. But that's all Thanks in no small part to the work of one woman, my name's Caroline created Paris. I am a writer and act, who has written an incredible book, my back his cold, invisible women, raising data biased, no wait. Sorry, that's the push title. What is the american title? we all have is called invisible women data by in a world designed for man, I know the british people swam with an american people Is this a non swear? Podcast cost you Where are you like? We can probably bleep at outright.
I'll try to keep it to a minimum and honest Caroline created Peres, good reason to swear, because this design flaw, in addition to being everywhere, is really annoying but like so many of the worst design flaws, it can be r d notice at first to demonstrate just how hard Caroline started off by tell me a story that begins with a joke about gender, Basically, in this town, called Colson, they got in Sweden, they would do a gender analysis of all their local town policies, someone said, I will obviously snow caring weight have anything to do with gender it does sound on the face of it ridiculous. How can snow clearing have anything to do agenda for all this of course go, go clouded streets. The way you'd think all cities would plough their streets. Starting but the major arteries followed by local roads and sidewalks. It seemed about is generalists as you could get, but actually it turned out
so heavily related to gender, because male and female travel patterns are not the same and are far more likely to travel in a fairly simple way, using a car for a twice daily commute? out of the city center. You can see The way the most cities are laid out with major arteries going in and out of downtown and what's called and arterial system which makes a lot of sense. If you are a man, but it turns out the way. We women travel is very different. Women have these more complicated travel patterns, which called trick chaining, say, for example, a typical travel day for women might involve dropping the kids off it. Before she goes to work, picking up some groceries on the way home, maybe dropping in on an elderly relative, and so women are much more likely to be walking and women also much more likely to use public transport going on these local rights rather than just directly to a commercial area when
let's no ploughing schedule was first designed all this trip. Chaining done by women simply wasn factored in because it wasn't considered work, but actually this work Tributes hugely to GDP, in fact made discovered that If you put all the unpaid care what travelled together, it turned out that travel for them. Purposes with almost Much has trouble for paid work, and suddenly you know if you collect Acer in that way, suddenly becomes a totally different proposition once the circle. And I started looking at the data through the lens of gender. Suddenly, the The idea that the city of Cross Gaga Sweden should plough its major arteries first didn't make intuitive sense, because that's really really great, forgetting in and out of downtown. But it's not very good for travelling between different suburbs, which is the kind of trouble that women are much more likely to do
so the City Council of Carl's Coca, realizing that it's hard to push a buggy through three inches of snow than it is to drive a car decided to flip. There's no clearing, policy on its head from now on it would be. The minor streets and sidewalks that were ploughed first, followed by Major arteries, what would they didn't expect was would actually save the money because it turned out vast dramatically reduced the admissions into accident, an emergency because they were right is much easier to drive a car. You three inches of snow than to push a buggy and pedestrians whip, simply dominating admissions into accident. An emergency and women were dominating the pedestrians and so bites the simple thing of changing the order in which they cleared the snow. They had this dramatic effects on their health care, I'm not was not an insignificant cost. You know this one
This found that it was three times the cost of the winter road maintenance. But the point, the story isn't that girls go get saved money or even at women suffered fewer injuries. It's that the snow, clean policy. Poorly designed, even though the city planners had started out with the best of intentions units, like the travel ban, though I know you're, let's make women full overrun fracture that palaces that'll be ready funny they just pray. Seated along the presumption that what would have worked for them with just work. For society, and when this the smoke hearing schedule was devised, unit would have been men coming up with that schedule and it did work for them, but they forgot, as happens so often in public policy. To remember that women exist This goes all the way back to the fact that you know this isn't just transport infrastructure. This is pretty much everything
today. I am talking with Caroline Kyoto Perez about the largest and most persistent data gap in history. The failure to collect data on in from women when designing almost anything and the consequences of not just for women, but for everyone. So you talk about this a lot in your book, which is that the at the root of almost all these design, problems, which don't seem to take them into account, is the fallacy of thee fault mail. The idea that, when we picture a kind of default human, when we design something whether we like it or not, we picture a sick man, where there are times in your research, were you discovered that you yourself were making a default male assumption?
I mean that's kind of how I got into feminism in the first place was realizing that I had this male default in my head, that whenever I pick should anyone on the agenda wasn't specified. I was picturing a man, so you know a lawyer, a doctor, John List, a scientist in any one. I was constantly picturing men and- and that was really shocking to me, because not only not only the fact that I was doing that, but also the fact that I haven't noticed. I was doing it because it is really shocking. How could I not noticed I'm a woman? How would I know? How could I not notice there was always picturing the opposite. Excluding those weird
so. We really are so used to seeing men as the default that most people onto where that they are ignoring women, but for people who are developing tech for people who are developing workplace policy for people are developing medical research. You know I wrote this book to kind of Troy, wake those people up, because I don't think that they are bad people. But by not collecting sex disaggregated data. What they are doing is having really serious negative, potentially fatal results for weeks will you mention medical research? How does the absence of women in data gathering effect, medicine, size, basically the vast majority of medical research and therefore the vast majority of knowledge. We have is based on the male body, so cruel sorts of diseases in because the a we have received
them the way we treat them the way we diagnose them has been based on research on men, women get misdiagnosed so, for example, heart attack women are more likely to die following a hoss tech than men and that's for a whole host of reasons. First, which is that theme. Aha stack symptoms are not, the horse tax symptoms that we have always been to say me. I had always been taught that that was having chest, pain and pain down. My left arm. I was having a heart attack and It turns out that actually, those are not the typical hearts tax symptoms for women. Women are more likely to experience breathlessness nor share fatigue. What feels like indigestion answer, women, don't realize having hawdtack said they go to the doktor, but even if they do go to the doctor doctors don't realize that women are having a hot shack in Messina. All doctors, degree But you know there is this higher rate of misdiagnosis and is partly because FEMA Hostile,
symptoms are seen as atypical, even though they are very typical for we. None in fact male hostile symptoms are a typical for women. Only one in eight women will experience chest pain, for example, but we just because of this way that we see men as the default male hush. Acceptance is seen as the default and female heart attack symptoms of scene. This kind of mish variant his wishes stunning, because if there was some kind of thing that affected you, one percent, the violation. We wouldn't think of that. Is a niece problem yet, but I mean We do in all sorts of areas. They mean another area that springs to mind is car crashes, so the cock test, dummy that has been used for decades to test car safety has been based on fifty percent or metal and I see there is a problem in opium- nobody's differ from male bodies and all sorts of ways, and we have fewer net muscles. We have less up a body
for mass Spinal column, the different pelvis is the different. You know said these are all issues that need to be taken into account, but we ve got this. Fifty percent, all male dummy Of course, the fifty percent or mail is the fiftieth central human and that she, what what is quite enraging really is that when this was introduced in the nineteen fifty there was actually a debate about having a female crushed s dummy. As happens so often car manufacturers lobbied against it on the basis that it would be too expensive and presumably it doesn't cost effective safety data. We collected effects the design of the car. Exactly and the result is there cause. Just don't fit women very well so, for example, the seat belt. Hasn't been designed to accommodate women's breasts. We haven't developed to a seat it accounts for pregnancy. Similarly, women. Need to sit much further forward,
than men. In order to reach the pedals oversee. Quite an impulsive popping out strife bets, That leaves women out of what called the standard seating position and it puts them Much higher risk in a frontal collision and onions All of this together means that women are forty, seven percent more likely to be seriously injured and seventeen percent more likely to die than a man if there in a car crash, and so in that is negligence but I think it gets even worse because Sitteth belatedly regular just have realised that women do exist in an inch eleven, the. U S realise that women existed in twenty fifteen. The EU realise that women existed. They finally introduce yeah female process Tommy's yet, but I mean they haven't really realised that women exist because see the car crash tests dummy that they are using is not an anthropometric plea, corrects It's a scale down MEL dummy
even worse than that in the EU. This scale down male dummy is only used in one out of the five regulatory tests and only in the passenger seat. So basically all you can say based on those tests is that we have data on whether its safe or not for scale down men to sit in the passenger seat. But we ajar Data on whether it safe actual women to sit in the passenger seat and no doubt at all on what it's like for someone who might be slightly similar to a woman to drive things like snow ploughing and medical protocols and car safety are just a few instances where there is a critical data gap either because there is data on women or the data that exists is not sex disaggregated. Even as an innocuous as the width of a piano key has been designed. The only with male hand sizes in mind in militaries. Across the world market, regulations have been designed based solely on the average male straddling, with disastrous results for female recruits
construction tools, safety, equipment, building codes, smartphones voice, recognition, software, all of it designed using a corpus data in which women more Please do not exist, but after this break will look at another example that might just provide a blueprint for how to do things better in the future. We often don't think of winter is a time of growth or creation, but if you think about it, it's the perfect time to greet your own website. Is your cooped up your thinking about being productive and now square space can help you do it. Whiskers based can take your cool ideas, you ve creative content, your services, goods, and you can turn them into a beautiful website in just a few clicks. Does it because there is
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arranged in a circle on the ground, with a pot placed on top of them in a fire underneath, and the problem with this type of state is that the themes that are given off are incredibly toxic, and it's not just at the themes are really toxic. It's how long, women and children are exposed to the themes, because also the three stone stove is not very efficient, so they will be in a poorly ventilated room being exposed to. I think one estimate with something like this- plenty of more than a hundred cigarettes per day, and this seems like something like we ve had stoves and ovens for a quick. Long time. Why wasn't this fixed a long time ago did even try yet say there have been attempts by development agencies to develop these clean staves? That don't require you to be up to the national great, but we still have this big problem that they are being adopted and the reason they aren't being adopted adopted is incredibly simple. It's that they are
designed, without anyone going and speaking, to women and asking them what they need and what they want. How are they lacking the current designed the issues? that's just it. I just sort of hilariously basic. They keep develop, staves that, for example, increase cooking time women already cooking festive five hours a day later have more time to spend cooking. Also, they often require for attending and again you know when you to spend so long cooking, you need to be held multitask, again, this is something that has been factored in. One clean cook, stove wisdom and I'm they it it required, a certain amount. Maintenance and v design is just sort of assumed. I well. The household will take care of that, but actually maintenance.
In that way was a man's job men didn't want to maintain these stoves because they thought well. Why do I need to unite? She can just click on the old style stoves. I wonder I wanna waste my time maintaining the stove another one was in a similar issue that the stove was too small to just put bits of wooden. You had shot the wood up again that was a man's job, they weren't doing it. So the women didn't get to use these stoves. This all these really Rooney simple things that should have been caught at the design stage. If you know if they had just gone and I can do the women and said you know, what do you need and they would have said what we need. Something that's means We don't have to spend more time cooking, that we can look after our kids while we're doing it and that we don't need mantelpiece swift because they weren't and so programme after her around the year after year has failed for these really really basic reasons.
How many years are we talking about what decades one and and the really frustrating thing is that often reports get produce that basic. He say that it's the women's fault, the women unwilling to learn how to use the stoves. All the women are choosing to cook in these dangerous toxic themes and then that one really is just insulting yeah. I mean Emulous reminds me lay all this language in the crash tests that women are the out of position, drivers and It really does like there's a moment where designers in people studying this finally see women, and that is trying to find I'm gonna blame yeah, I mean I should have connect this to the default mail.
Is this position of will? There must be something wrong with the women we ve got a fixed, the women that never is actually something that we apply to men. And and- and I think it becomes most clear when you are looking at things like you know, workplace initiatives were You know the idea is are what we need to build up women's confidences, it's that women are confident enough, that that's. Why, then all getting promoted? That's? Why not, then? I'm going for promotions. That's! Why do they not cheat exquisite subject and yet study after study has shown that actually women a pretty good at assessing their their skill, their intelligence and ass. She is men who tend to overestimate the skill and intelligence. And so when you see that the new sort of have to think well, maybe it's not that the women rate themselves to lose the men rating themselves too. High, but just we just never
like that. You know that, because the met the male is the default, its assumed will, that must be the right level of rights and the women are wrong. So we gonna fix the women. Did anyone bother to design a stove based primarily on the input of wind, and, if so, what what did they create? They did have a happy ending, say yeah a few years ago, researches in India, instead of trying to create a whole stove, they created this, this device that you can put on any cookstoves and basically, it cuts would use and caught smoke to comparable levels. It's very, very cheap. It's used with Recite pulled metal material and its being picked up, not just in India. You know there have been studies in Kenya in Ghana with the same device with similarly positive. Results that women are adopting this and basically guess how they found out how to do this. The Hague as women went and they
women revolutionists save what these researchers did. That was different. Was they started off on the basis of what do women actually need what women ass she want? How can we provide that and say the researches went to ask women? You know what is the issue coming in from above and saying you, women, new, very serious, naughty use. The stove I mean when I, when I read your book, it's kind of both satisfying in enraging about it. Is that the the solution is pretty simple. It's just. Talk to women, gather data and think of that war, you're, making things or include women in the process. The whole time D. You find yourself hopeful, dispirited, angry oh, I feel really angry. I am incredibly pissed off for Greece- is in it it's so frustrating and and particularly when it
comes to areas where I know that researches knows that there is a problem and and the inner Amin often get asked wiener. What's the most, king thing you found my poems more people ask that question is an obvious question to us. Because there are so many shocking things, because there are so many shocking things, it's quite different locations and actually also after a while you become sitting numb to it, because it's so awful You know women are dying and car crashes. Women are dying from heart attacks. Women are dying from unclean cookstoves. So after a while, it's not the examples. It's the excuses that make you really angry and to this day I have had let's say not totally friendly exchanges on twitter. When certain researches, you actually say where we can't test on women, because they have periods,
and that words complicate the results and, and and that's just enraging, because they you know, as I know, that yes periods do. In fact commonly through that have an impact on without throat. That's been something that you personally, but you need to know, and yet you know twenty nineteen and I have medical researchers. You know trying the oh well will start in men and if we find anything interesting than will include women which, again positioning mail is the default and Sport is one of the things that makes me most angry. Is there It is to think about how many drugs for women have we misdoubt zone because they didn't work for men when we started testing them. Do you see the the end? of excuses or like is this, I mean a we reaching an end where you can no longer have these
pieces or is still just as bad as ever and deafening eve not reaching an end, I am not trying to make you have a good Good view of this. I share your pessimism and yet so I am honey, You mean you asked me. How do I feel writing a book and writing a book? I felt absolutely despondent Since the book has come out. I have felt more hope and that because the response has been actually quite incredible both men and women, women, the main response and an reaction has just been one of relief of now the world suddenly make sense, and I realize that there is something wrong with me. I just have a body that hasn't been
factored into the design of pretty much anything but in all safe from men. I've had so many men get in touch telling me about how They are changing their hiring procedure and how they are changing their research procedure and how they are changing buildings that their designing, incorporating They have read in the into the way that they work projects that they are involved in so. If you were to grab a solution you to make this better What I mean. I want my answers: gonna being good, let's go for men to collect sex disaggregated data either because I really is simple: it is that simple and ass. She had an amazing thing that happens yesterday was here, and I think this is perhaps my my biggest wind to date with the sky,
this government have started a working group on collecting sex engender disaggregated data as a result of the book, and that was I mean that's just amazing how we gotta Scots I've meat they are. They are great and I'm gonna have to move that when we break set Scotland to be the only safe havens. Caroline create O Peres's book is called invisible. Women data bias in a world design ferment available wherever books are sold and a highly recommend you go out and buy a copy, because its other examples of gender data bias that will have you questioning the default Sis Man design assumptions of the world around you, it's truly illuminating and infuriating and conspiring all at the same time,.
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Ninety nine percent, invisible was produced this week by Jo Rosenberg Music by Sharia Katy mingle is our senior producer course. Tat is the digital director thrust. A team is Fitzgerald Senior, editor, Joline Hall Sharif Use if every Miss Vivian leaves Sophia Clatter and me roman Mars. We are directive. Ninety one point: seven K, L W in San Francisco and produced on radio row in beautiful, downtown, Oakland. California, ninety nine percent of Israel, as a member of Radio Tokyo from Pierre, accept, fiercely independent collective of the most innovative shows in all thought, casting find them all and Radio Tokyo Donovan. You can find the show enjoying discussions about the show on Facebook. You treated me at Roman Mars in the show. Ninety nine p I work, run Instagram and ready to, but if you My comment on your least favoured examples of gender bias and design. You can do that and I m p I dot org.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.