Book Review – Invisible Women: Data bias in a world designed for men

It is no news for us women that we suffer gender bias in several areas of our lives, especially in the workspace, academic space, and our own homes, but when we read the data about it, those injustices become even more clear.

In the Book Invisible women, by Caroline Criado Perez, we take a deep dive into how the world is designed to benefit men, and how we women are penalized in our careers, especially when deciding to start a family. The book is filled with eye-opening examples of how we women have the odds against us, and how much work still needs to be done to close the gender gap.

Inequalities in the workspace

Globally, women do 75% of the unpaid work, which includes taking care of the household, the children, and taking care of the elderly. A study in the UK found that men enjoy 5 hours more leisure time per week than women. An Australian study found that when men and women start to cohabitate, her housework time goes up, while the male decreases, no matter status or country.

Not only that, in companies women are asked to do more undervalued work than their male colleagues, and they say yes because they are penalized as being unlikable if they say no. This is a problem across several workplaces. Women usually are the ones taking notes, cleaning after everyone, and organizing events like birthday parties in the office as well as at home, which increases their workload.

How motherhood penalizes women, their careers, and earnings

A series of studies found that when women enter motherhood, their careers are severely penalized. Many women accommodate their care responsibilities with careers by taking part-time work once they become mothers. Women make up to 75% of part-time workers. Part-time work is paid less per hour than full-time work, in part because it’s rare that a high-level post is offered part-time or with flexible working hours. Women end up working in jobs below their skill level because it offers the flexibility that they need, but not the pay that they deserve.

When women take part-time jobs, they tend to be more administrative positions that don’t lead to a career path with chances of getting promoted.


Some say that women going part-time is their own choice, but is it really a choice when if they don’t go part-time the children aren’t properly taken care of and the housework doesn’t get done? A study found that the gender pay gap widens after the first 12 years a child is born to 33%, as women’s careers and wages stagnate.

Men build their own closed social circles in the workspace

Another issue is that companies seem to reward long hours in the office with promotions, which is a gender bias beneficial to men. As women tend to be the ones watching the children, while men are free to spend more time socializing with their superiors by, for example, having drinks after office hours. This creates a bond that tends to increase their chances of getting a promotion in the long run. Technically, women could do the same things, but it’s much more difficult for them when having small children at home.

White men are rewarded at a higher rate than equally performing women belonging to minorities. They tend to get up to 25% more of the performance-related bonuses by doing the exact same work.


An analysis of 248 performance reviews collected from a variety of US-based tech companies, found that women receive negative personality criticism that men simply don’t. Women are told to watch their tone, step back, they are called bossy, aggressive, emotional, and irrational. Out of all these words, only “aggressive” appears in men’s reviews, twice saying that they should be more aggressive.


More than 40% of women leave tech companies within 10 years, compared to 17% of men. A study found that women didn’t leave for family reasons, but because they were constantly passed out for promotions and had their projects dismissed. The main reason for women having their projects dismissed is the fact that men tend to support their male colleagues more than their female colleagues.

Moving forward

Understanding the data behind gender bias is fundamental for us women to close the gap that pushes us behind in so many aspects of our careers, and the author provides over 70 pages with hundreds of links to sources which you can check that data from.

This is an excellent, research-based book that highlights how women often remain invisible in many spheres of life, due to a deeply embedded male perspective in institutions, often without thinking. There are of course generalizations, but patterns are important to detect those issues.


We are aware that a lot of progress has already been made, but a lot more needs to be done in order to move towards a society with more gender equality. It ́s important that we keep speaking about these issues, so share this article and bring that conversation to your company, to your university, or to your social circles. Patriarchy takes different forms but remains powerful because often gender bias goes unnoticed.


Camilla Brandao

Career Club DK Advisory Board Member.

Media Specialist

Connect with Camilla  on LinkedIn!

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