Gender data gap puts women at risk
Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men points out that the gender data gap can not only be annoying, but for women at work, sometimes deadly.
The author gives some examples: Guidance on standard office temperature was developed in the 1960s around the metabolic resting rate of the average man. But a recent Dutch study found that the metabolic rate of young adult females performing light office work is significantly lower than the standard values for men doing the same activity. In fact, the formula may overestimate female metabolic rate by as much as 35 per cent, meaning that current offices are on average five degrees too cold for women.
Even more sobering: she looks at fatality and serious injury statistics in the UK and finds that while these have been falling generally, there is some evidence that they are actually increasing in women. In the UK, 8,000 people die from work-related cancers - and although most research in this area has been done on men, it is not clear that men are the most affected. Criado-Perez writes: "Over the past 50 years, breast cancer rates in the industrialised world have risen significantly – but a failure to research female bodies, occupations and environments means that the data for exactly what is behind this rise is lacking." She quotes Rory O'Neill, professor of occupational and environmental policy research at the University of Stirling, and long-time union activist: "We know everything about dust disease in miners. You can't say the same for exposures, physical or chemical, in 'women's work'." Women have different immune systems and hormones, which can play a role in how chemicals are absorbed; they tend to be smaller and have thinner skin, both of which can lower the level of toxins they can be safely exposed to.
Also, as women's employment in traditionally male occupations increases, where they must use tools and equipment designed for men, there is evidence that women are suffering higher levels of strains, sprains and nerve damage. Then there are issues of ill-fitting PPE, causing serious health and safety issues (sometimes lethal); workplace facilities; and so much more! An important read!
Read more: The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashesThe Guardian - an edited extract from Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez, (Chatto & Windus)
Boris Kingma & Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt Energy consumption in buildings and female thermal demand Nature Climate Change, volume 5, pages 1054–1056 (2015); The 'invisible' risks facing working women in France, Equal Times