The gender data gap. Why women don’t see every day sexism
The sexist secrets hidden in the gender data gap
We know that the world is designed by men, but the gender data gap shows more complex undertones.
At the end of a training or coaching session, there are always women who will approach me. Often they say: "I have been very fortunate. I have never experienced sexism or harassment myself". Usually this is followed by a sympathetic smile for those who have suffered. Sadly, the reality is that they too probably have had those experiences, they simply are not aware of them. Statistically more than 90% of women recognise they have been subject to sexism in the workplace and even harassment. Maybe those women are in that happy ten percent. But sexism is so deeply embedded into our culture that we are frequently unaware that we are surrounded by it all the time. The reason that women don't see every day sexism is for exactly that reason - because the gender data gap is so pervasive, they don't even realise it.
Overcome sexist preconceptions and make your presentations explosive with our FREE Power Word List.
We are bombarded on a daily basis with sexist ads, images and products. We see gender imbalance in politics, news, business and movies. But on top of that, women are also factored out of other less obvious areas of discrimination. Invisible Women: A World Designed for Men, written by Caroline Criado Perez, is this year's top business book. In it she shares the impact of discriminatory data that disadvantages women.
Unfortunately, it contains what seems like a never-ending list of gender blind statistics. This is based on a one size fits all approach to many things - which is a male size. We know that organisations are designed by men, for men. Now we have the data to back it up. Perez demonstrates how gender inequality is well "baked into" the home, the workplace, public life and healthcare. It is so systemic that it's hardly surprising that such high numbers of women are oblivious to the level of sexism they are experiencing, have no idea this is going on and the reasons behind it.
Gender data gap
Perez provides background information to some of life's gender mysteries. It's now clear why women don't have "potty parity," as the Americans call it. This is the way there are always queues for women's' loos. Essentially women take longer to pee and as architects have traditionally been men, they haven't factored that in. Women use stalls and men use urinals which are easier to pack together. Bottom line - footfall through a man's bathroom will be faster.
Amongst other things, we discover why office temperatures are kept 5° too cold for women. Plus we learn, as we already know from yelling at our GPS systems, that voice recognition software struggles to identify softer and lighter female voices. In addition, we find out that cars are designed around the body of “Reference Man.” The results of this are startling; although men are more likely to crash, women involved in collisions are nearly 50% more likely to be seriously hurt.
There was a further study on heart disease. It found that women "were less likely than men to be treated with many of the evidence-based therapies that should be used.... and were also less likely to go for cardiac catheterization and receive coronary stenting."
Data is the basis of design. 70 years ago the first computer programmers were women who crunched numbers during World War II. Today the balance has changed dramatically. Women make up a mere 11% of software developers, 25% of Silicon Valley employees, and 7% of partners at venture capital firms.
As Apple found out when it designed the iPhone, there were apps for every bodily function known to man (quite literally). Yet there were no apps for the menstrual or menopausal cycles. Why? There were no women on the team. In a study of six million journal articles, male lead authors were 21% more likely than female lead authors to use superlatives like "novel", "first", "excellent", "remarkable" to describe their work. Papers that used this positive framing were cited 13% more often.
The future of gender data
As the future of design will be AI led, the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society has launched the Women & AI Daring Circle. They aim to develop “concrete steps” to increase the participation and visibility of women in creating artificial intelligence systems. This is to ensure the promulgation of research and data standards that are accurate, reliable and non-discriminatory. The biggest challenge is that women represent only about 22% of all AI professionals worldwide.
All of this is not to say that every day men get out of bed intending to be sexist. Some sadly and clearly do, but for the vast majority, they don't even know they are being sexist. They often don't even see what is going on around them. This is their normal. It is also the status quo for women many of whom don't see it either.
So if a woman suggests that she personally has not experienced sexism, rather than putting it down to her good fortune, use it as an opportunity to raise her awareness on the gender data gap.
Unconscious bias is a business issue. Create a more inclusive culture with our Unconscious Bias Training Workshop.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
JUNE 16 TH 2020 - HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVELY
Corporate Online Lockdown Learning Event - European Patent Office .
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
The minute your image pops up on someone screens people are looking for clues about your personality, your credibility and your competence. A strong online leadership presence is vital.read more
Daily habits to create boundaries during lockdown are vital for a number of important reasons especially to navigate work life balance during confinement. We have to find a way to make that critical separation from our working and professional selves from our other roles for our physical and mental well being.read more
Re-entering the job market can be daunting but our post-corona job search tips for 50 somethings provides all the direction you need to prepare.read more