Overview (Spoilers Abound):
I find myself struggling to formulate how I felt about Perez’s though provoking read Invisible Women. Don’t let the opening line of my review paint the read in a negative light because I loved almost every compelling account and even had a hard time putting it down. Perez compiled a provocative collection of studies and examples in which women are not included in the overall planning from emergency response efforts, to city planning and medical studies. The analytical training in me appreciated how much of the evidence featured by Perez was supported by scientific literature or further illuminated through interviews with professional experts. Other aspects of her read, albeit well in the minority of the overall content, led into where as a reader I was left feeling conflicted. Even by criticizing these opinions I find myself feeling like a bad feminist, however as a farmer and female I felt like some of these debate points were not strongly backed up by science, unlike the majority of intriguing examples posed. Specific examples that stood out to me were the discussion of tool sizing, farming equipment proportions, cement bag weights, brick dimensions, or the width of the sidewalk cracks. Ultimately, while I understood the points Perez was trying to convey, these aforementioned discussions were outliers in stark contrast to much of the other scientifically backed illustrations. Although, last week as I was walking down the street in my high heels and I proceeded to trip in two different sidewalk cracks within one minute. I had to smile, remembering my skeptical reaction to that section of Invisible Women, that perhaps had more credence than I’d initially given credit. Critiques aside, I hadn’t realized how much of the world was shaped around the default male. Despite the progress that has obviously been made over the past century, as a scientist it was infuriating to realize the obvious and glaring omissions by only studying males, humans or animal models, for clinical studies in the examples posed. This deliberate oversight has the consequence of having female medicine come secondary and reactionary, with potentially life threatening results. Other fascinatingly alarming accounts illustrated the gaps in the design of cars, virtual reality, and voice control for the use of women. Honestly, the most alarming concern highlighted by Perez in my opinion was the future potentially bias, even though it would likely be unintentional, programmed into artificial intelligence, with consequences having far reaching impacts beyond the obvious, e.g., jobs, medicine, education. Overall, Perez employed a multitude of scientific studies and interviews with experts to highlight the role of Invisible Women in a world shaped by the default male.