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Invisible Women: Gmail's delicate constitution

Invisible Women
Invisible Women: Gmail's delicate constitution
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #79 • View online
Hellooooo GFPs! And a special birthday hello to Invisible Women‘s unofficial patron saint: Simone de Beauvoir, whose birthday was yesterday.
I opened Invisible Women with an epigraph from her masterpiece, The Second Sex…
Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth. – Simone de Beauvoir
…partly because it’s perfect – I mean LOOK AT IT it could not be more perfect – but also to illustrate my immense debt to de Beauvoir. Her groundbreaking analysis of women as the relative Other to man’s Absolute Subject provided the philosophical underpinning to my own work and without her there is no Invisible Women.
So Happy Birthday, Simone, and thank you for helping us see through the bullshit ✊

GFPs, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I spent mine making like 2020: furiously wiping down my phone with antibacterial wipes (remember that?? 😱 and cleaning all your shopping? let’s never do 2020 again) after a traditional meeting of said phone with a service station toilet bowl.
GFPs, it me: 😱😭😷🤢🤮
Anyway, it was a lesson to me, the pocket queen, to never again deviate from my firm rule: adequate pockets or GTFO. I was lured in by the siren song of the ridiculously comfortable Uniqlo jeggings (they even do THERMAL ones shut up no YOU’RE middle aged), and decided to make a slight exception to my hard and fast pocket rule. To be clear, they HAVE pockets, I haven’t completely taken leave of my senses, but they only have (far too small) back pockets, which resulted in the traditional phone meets toilet bowl disaster.
Anyway as well as me seriously contemplating doing a Larry David and just chucking the vile defiled phone in the bin before realising that I literally just upgraded and definitely can’t afford a new one, this led to an interesting (YMMV) conversation with the A[American]B[beefcake] when I emerged from the toilet about 15 minutes and much antibac later.
GFPs: HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF THE TOILET BOWL/ PHONE ISSUE. How the Subject half live, eh?
Anyway I’m swearing off Uniqlo jeggings: does anyone have any recommendations for a replacement that won’t imperil my phone which I am still trying to convince myself is now clean? 😬
In other news, it has come to my attention that many of you didn’t get the last newsletter before the Christmas break.
🍆🍆🍆
🍆🍆🍆
I can’t think why. Anyway, for those of you who have serious p**** envy, you can catch up here. It was a, er, banger of an issue 😏
I will try to avoid upsetting Gmail’s delicate constitution in future, but if you want to go extra on making sure you always get this email you couldn’t go far wrong in adding [email protected] to your contacts.
And if you want to go REALLY extra, I found this handy guide for whitelisting a newsletter…on, uh, another newsletter’s website…
🤠
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This week’s newsletter is kindly sponsored by Elvie.
Elvie was born out of the frustration of one woman: Tania Boler. After Tania had her first child, she quickly became fed up with the lack of innovation in tech solutions for women who have been pregnant and/or given birth. She also felt frustrated with the cultural norms that stop women from talking openly about their bodies. And so, in true GFP fashion, she decided to do something about it. That thing was founding Elvie, a company that produces tech that women actually need and want by doing that revolutionary thing: asking women what they want and need. 
Elvie’s product design process always starts by listening to women, finding more about the challenges they face - and then applying world-class design and engineering technology to create better solutions that work with women’s bodies.
Check out their smarter technology for women here
Gender data gap of the week
GFPs, I’m breaking with the habit of a lifetime and kicking the year off with some good news! Just after the Invisible Women newsletter broke for Christmas, the UK government published its Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England. Not the catchiest title, but I guess Invisible Women was already taken
GFPs tragically I really am as pleased as she looks
GFPs tragically I really am as pleased as she looks
Anyway, it’s just a Vision, so there are no firm commitments – we have to wait for the Spring for the full strategy – but here at Invisible Women HQ we take our wins when we can and this Vision is a positive first step.
There was a lot to like in the Vision, some good stuff on reducing maternal and neonatal disparities (as most GFPs will know, black women in the UK are four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women) and on access to “high quality menopause care” including the need for primary healthcare doctors to be better educated on the menopause. There was also a brief mention of the need to strengthen “healthcare and workplace support for women and partners affected by pregnancy loss and other pregnancy and fertility-related issues” – perhaps they would like to follow my 8 point plan for fixing miscarriage care.
I also appreciated the acknowledgement that women want “findings from clinical studies and other types of research [to] be made more widely accessible […and] disseminated in a way that is accessible for women from all backgrounds, in order to allow women to educate themselves on issues that affect them.”
I mean, that would certainly make my life easier…which as we all know is that should form the foundation of all government policy.
But of course, GFPs, my greatest excitement was saved for the data section, not least the acknowledgement that
there is an overall need for more research into women’s health including that looking specifically at sex differences in conditions, and for greater monitoring of the diversity of research participants, including in NIHR-funded studies.
I am also a fan of the plan to
work alongside the forthcoming Data Saves Lives Strategy for health and social care to consider how we can make better use of, and increase access to, data collected from heath and care services. This will be crucial in efforts to tackle sex data gaps.
and VERY EXCITED about the “ambition” to
embed routine collection of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) research participant demographic data, including sex and ethnicity, and use this data to ensure that our research is representative of the society we serve
The government has also announced that they will be appointing a Women’s Health Ambassador to help drive change. This is crucial: all the research shows that unless you have someone whose literal job it is to keep track of and push institutional change, it just…doesn’t happen. Of course, it does depend who they appoint and how much power, if any, they will have. So one to keep an eye on, but the noises are good.
Bonus Gender data gap of the week
Those GFPs who were lucky enough to get the 🍆 edition will remember that as well as discussing the, er, male organ, we also discussed lady parts and the data gap thereof. Anyway, GFP Rebecca got in touch on that note with this interesting little titbit (hope the slight hint of naughtiness in that word doesn’t freak gmail out too much)
I was recently on tramadol and during my time on it, was unable to experience pleasure during sex. I started to Google and got lots of papers on the use of tramadol to control premature ejaculation, but nothing at all on women’s pleasure. I asked my GP and she said it would be a very uncommon side effect but not impossible.
It’s used to treat nerve pain so it’s not a stretch to think it would also numb pleasure. I have my doubts that it’s a genuinely uncommon side effect (particularly with the PE link in men). I suspect no one has bothered to record it in women because women’s pleasure is not considered a serious issue.
I suspect you may be right, Rebecca.
Default male of the week
Never mind me making like 2020 over Christmas, never one to be outdone, the Sunday Times has seen fit to make like 1920 (ok ok 2016, although it SHOULD have been unacceptable to have an all-male all-white science line up since 1920).
GFPs, when I saw the tweet I thought, surely, SURELY, this is a joke about manels. But no, on clicking through, it turned out that someone really truly had somehow mocked up that picture and NOT NOTICED ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.
Actually to be fair to The Sunday Times, maybe they really WERE just making like 2020…
🤦‍♀️
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…but I really thought we’d ALL AGREED NOT TO DO THAT (making like 2020 I mean, although manels too tbf)
Anyway, perhaps it’s not entirely fair to single out The Sunday Times (although srsly what were they thinking with that mock-up): they certainly aren’t unique in this seeming inability to remember female experts exist, and not just because the New York Times did the same thing in The Year That Shall Not Be Named.
A 2021 paper analysed the “most highly visible COVID-19 media experts in the USA, Switzerland, Greece and Denmark” and found that the most visible media experts did not correlate with the most highly cited experts, aka arguably the ACTUAL EXPERTS, and in fact the majority of these COVID-19 experts had not, as of August 2021, even published anything on COVID-19. Naturally, they were mainly men.
In the analysis of US experts specifically, not a single one of the female experts who make the top 2% of academically cited experts was found to have featured in the US media.
Now, we can argue about publication and citation as a fair metric for assessing expertise, but given the media expert sample in question skews so heavily male, I don’t think we need to worry about that too much. From Invisible Women:
Career progression in academia depends largely on how much you get published in peer-reviewed journals, but getting published is not the same feat for men as it is for women. A number of studies have found that female-authored papers are accepted more often or rated higher under double-blind review (when neither author nor reviewer are identifiable). And although the evidence varies on this point, given the abundant male bias that has been identified in academia, there seems little reason not to institute this form of blind academic audition. Nevertheless, most journals and conferences carry on without adopting this practice.
Of course, female academics do get published, but that’s only half the battle. Citation is often a key metric in determining research impact, which in turn determines career progression, and several studies have found that women are systematically cited less than men. Over the past twenty years, men have self-cited 70% more than women – and women tend to cite other women more than men do, meaning that the publication gap is something of a vicious circle: fewer women getting published leads to a citations gap, which in turn means fewer women progress as they should in their careers, and around again we go.  (IW, p.96)
And on that note, I was tickled to spot this line in the paper’s methods: “All citation metrics and rankings thereof exclude all self-citations.”
Ha, ha, and indeed, ha. And if you will, lol.
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GFPs fixing it
Anyway, it’s not all bad, because in the face of the traditional news media basically doing this to female experts
We have Dear Pandemic, which not only presents all the expertise you need on the pandemic, but elevates female voices while doing it. What’s not to love?
Dear Pandemic
2/ The pitch: We're a bunch of Nerdy girls posting real info on the pandemic. We curate COVID-19 content and battle disinfo for the greater good. We love facts.

@HelenBranswell @bhrenton @angie_rasmussen @emilynussbaum @CherylStrayed @BrendanNyhan @MSF_USA @ashishkjha @SaadOmer3 https://t.co/GKZNxIjyOT
And shout-out to John Burn-Murdoch, the FT’s Covid data analyst and one of the men adulated in the Sunday Times’s magiography (that’s the new word I’ve coined for hagiography about men and it’s definitely catching on) for recognising the unfortunate female shaped data gap in the piece and giving credit where it’s due.
John Burn-Murdoch
For no particular reason ...

A Sunday thread highlighting just a tiny sample of the brilliant women whose tireless work has shaped my understanding of Covid-19
I guess he’s the FT’s data guy for a reason. You can stay, John.
Product of the week
SEND ME YOUR POCKETED JEGGINGS!
Poppy pic of the week
Loyal GFPs may remember the undisputed high-point of this newsletter, my greatest ever achievement, the What We Do in the Shadows / Poppy mash-up.
Anyway: LOOK WHAT I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS AND LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM ABOUT IT
I will share a completed pic once I have completed it. Anyway, have a proper Poppy pic:
BONUS DOG MATERIAL
The AB discovered this unbelievably charming letter from Gertrude Stein about her dog, Basket, who we believe to be the previous incarnation of my mum’s dog Toby, because Toby is Basket and Basket is Toby. If you do one nice thing for yourself today (other than reading this EXCELLENT newsletter I mean), make it reading all about Basket.
All About Basket: A Letter from Gertrude Stein About Her Beloved Dog ‹ Literary Hub
I’m not sure it will be quite as wonderful reading it versus having the AB read it for you, which is how I discovered it. Maybe I’ll make him record it for next week’s newsletter 🤠
“he solemnly tried”
“he solemnly tried”
“he protruded first one side and then the other”
“he protruded first one side and then the other”
To be clear, Toby does have his own basket, he just inexplicably chooses to try to fit into Poppy’s aka “the little Mexican dog’s” basket
Right! That’s it, my dear GFPs! Until next time…! xoxoxo
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Caroline Criado Perez

Keeping up with the gender data gap (and whatever else takes my fancy). Like the Kardashians, but with more feminist rage. Plus, toilet queue of the week.

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