Caroline Criado Perez, who will be speaking at the DigitalAgenda Power & Responsibility Summit on the 9th October, has won the Royal Society Book Prize for her book ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’.
‘Invisible Women’ exposes the lack of gender-specific data in today’s world that unintentionally leads to discrimination against women in everyday life, with the world ‘designed for men as a default’. Perez examines the effect in such diverse fields as medical research, government policy, technology, media and the workplace.
The Science Book Prize was founded in 1988, and past winners include Bill Bryson and Stephen Hawking. Perez is the fifth woman to win the award in a row, and receives £25,000 in prize money.
Judging panel chair Nigel Shadbolt said that Perez ‘writes with energy and style, every page full of facts and data that support her fundamental contention that in a world built for and by men gender data gaps, biases and blind spots are everywhere. As an AI researcher and data scientist, it makes me look at my field afresh. Read it and be prepared to think again.’
Perez is a campaigner for women’s rights, successfully pushing for Jane Austen to be included on the ten pound note. She described writing ‘Invisible Women’ as ‘hellish’.
‘It really tested my mental strength to its limits, partly because it was a really emotional book to write because of the impact this is having on women’s lives and how angry and upsetting it was to keep coming across this gap in the data.’
Perez has also found that the reception to her book is often less than encouraging. On one occasion, she spoke to medical professionals about some of her more ‘innocuous’ findings, but was met with anger. ‘It was a real shock to me. As someone who doesn’t have a science background, I’ve always looked up to scientists as objective and rational. Even though I knew there was this bias in medical science, I thought that hearing the evidence, they would react in a ‘We need to fix this’ kind of way rather than a ‘What is this stupid woman talking about?’ kind of way.’
Winning the Insight Investment Award “makes me feel I did justice to the material and to the researchers who provided the source material … It’s just great for the book.”
Perez will be speaking about gender bias in data at the DigitalAgenda Power & Responsibility Summit on the 9th October.