2020 - Ongoing
Montfermeil, Île-de-France, France
Simone de Beauvoir 1949: “humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself, but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute- she is the Other.“
To see the world trough a male perspective is considered universal ‘neutral”, to see the world through a female perspective is feminism, niche, ideological, atypical.
Films, news, literature, science, city planning, economics : they are the stories we tell ourselves about our past, present and future. They are all marked- disfigured- by a female- shaped absent presence. This is the gender data gap.
This neutrality became very concrete in 1970. A 40-year-old man weighing 70 kg became the point of reference, a “typical” model with which our world is riddled. Most of the infrastructure and equipment that we use every day has been designed without regard to gender differences.
One of the most important things to say about the gender data gap is that it is not generally malicious, or even deliberate. Quite the opposite. It is simply the product of a way of thinking that has been around for millennia and is therefor a kind of not thinking. A double not thinking, even : men go without saying, and women don’t get said at all. Because when we say human, on the whole, we mean man.
40 yr old/70kg is a series illustrating the “data gap”: women are undeniably absent from the majority of statistical studies, to the detriment of their health, their safety, and sometimes even their life.
The gender data gap isn’t just about silence. These silences, these gaps, have consequences. They impact on women’s lives every day. The impact can be relatively minor. Shivering in offices set to a male temperature norm, for example, or struggling to reach a top shelf set at a male height norm. Irritating, certainly. Unjust, undoubtedly. But not life- threatening. Not like crashing in a car whose safety measures don’t account for women’s measurements. Not like having your heart attack go undiagnosed because your symptoms are deemed “atypical”. For these women, the consequences of living in a world built around male data can be deadly.
**** Project built through the book by British journalist Caroline Criado Perez, awarded the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2019 for her free Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.
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