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Invisible Women: not for cows

Invisible Women
Invisible Women: not for cows
By Caroline Criado Perez • Issue #82 • View online
Morning GFPs! No rambling preamble from me this week, let’s just get straight to it!

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
As longtime GFPs will know, I’ve been talking for years about inadequate PPE for women, and since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic I’ve been trying to highlight the many PPE issues that female healthcare workers in particular face – and getting called morally indefensible for it 🤪.
Anyway, this week I was really delighted to be able to support Women in Global Health (WGH) as they presented their important report Fit for Women? Safe and Decent PPE for Women Health and Care Workers.
The key findings will not surprise any GFPs (PPE designed for an average caucasian male won’t work for most women, hello!), but the report is still well worth reading, and definitely worth sharing, not least for the testimonials garnered from interviews conducted by WGH with female healthcare workers in 50 countries.
And so on. It’s a crucial compendium of the voices of the women on the ground, and a really important contribution to the fight to get female healthcare workers PPE that actually lives up to its name and protects women.
If you’d like to catch up with the event, which included some brief opening remarks from me, followed by a presentation of the report and a panel discussion about its findings, you can watch the recording below:
#FitForWomen ? Safe and decent PPE for women health and care workers- Women in Global Health
#FitForWomen ? Safe and decent PPE for women health and care workers- Women in Global Health
Default male of the week
Short and sweet entry this week, GFPs…
Inspectre Moseley
Checking the side-effects of my meds... ah yes, the two sexes - Ordinary and Female.

Cc: @CCriadoPerez

#defaultMale #invisibleWomen https://t.co/3NcgO0jmx6
…or maybe not so sweet
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Product of the week
Regular GFPs may remember that back in September 2021 this newsletter featured the Elvie Trainer – a smart pelvic-foor trainer, reviewed expertly by me and my, er mario-playing f*nny.
Well this week I’m giving you a review of the Elvie Pump: Elvie’s ultra-quiet, wearable electric breast pump.
GFPs, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been emotionally invested in this pump ever since I interviewed Tania Boler, Elvie’s founder, for Invisible Women back in 2018. At the time she was just about to launch the pump – and it sounded fantastic:
[Boler] is scathing about what is currently available on the market. ‘It’s just horrible,’ she says, bluntly. ‘It’s painful, it’s loud, it’s difficult to use. It’s quite humiliating.’ I think of trying to hold a conversation with my sister-in-law as she sits on the sofa with her top off, her breasts wired up to a machine. ‘It’s not even that complicated to get it right,’ Boler adds. The notion that ‘it would be nice to pump while you’re able to do something else, rather than having to spend hours a day sitting there chained to this noisy machine’ should, she says be ‘a basic requirement’. But some- how, it hasn’t been. When I ask her why she thinks this is, Boler muses that perhaps it’s different for her because she’s a woman. So ‘I just go in with: “As a woman what do I want from this?” ’  (IW, p.172)
When I spoke to Elvie about their design process, they told me that the first thing they did was to speak to lactating women about what they needed from their breast pump which earns them their first big tick from me.
From here, they developed their six “unbreakable design rules”:
ultra-quiet, hands-free, discreet, easy to use, smart and ‘not for cows’!
Cows inform me they have no comment to make at this time
Cows inform me they have no comment to make at this time
So GFPs, did they succeed? Over to GFP Alice, who kindly provided me with her breasts for the purposes of this review.
“It’s the dog’s b*ll*ocks”
Thanks, Alice.
“The first thing to know is that breastfeeding takes up an unbelievable amount of your time,” she expands, thankfully.
So expressing milk is like an extra chore on top of that. But with this one, you can just put it in your bra on the other side while you’re already feeding. It makes things that much easier. Also, you can move around with it: you’re not sort of stapled to the couch for further lengths of time, than you already would be, basically. So it’s incredibly freeing. 
By which she means she enjoyed watching an episode of White Lotus and finding at the end of it that she’d expressed three ounces of milk without thinking. And, frankly, who wouldn’t enjoy that?
artist's reconstruction of GFP Alice feeding her baby while pumping and also watching White Lotus
artist's reconstruction of GFP Alice feeding her baby while pumping and also watching White Lotus
Alice was road-testing the Elvie Pump with her second baby, so she’d already tried other electric pumps before when she was breastfeeding her first baby. “They’re plugged into the wall so you’re actually sat there like a dairy animal, having to hold it on,” she tells me. “It’s dehumanising, very dehumanising.”
By contrast, the Elvie Pump is “already being held in place, and it’s charged remotely and it actually works. Which is nice. Like, it actually does the job of extracting milk. I’m such a convert. I love it.”
Perhaps the thing Alice loves most about the Elvie Pump is that it doesn’t take up valuable hand real estate. “You already never have a hand free,” she explains.
You’re permanently trying to do things with one hand when you’ve got a small baby. Just anything that frees up a hand is really really useful. Everybody says when you have a baby, “oh get used to not sleeping.” No, f*ck that. The thing that you need to get used to not doing is having both hands free. It drives you berserk and anything that frees up a hand is just an amazing boon.
At this point, Elvie’s designers are nodding enthusiastically, because, they told me, the doing-things-one-handed-thing was an integral part of their design:
As we began to develop the Elvie Pump product, it became obvious that many mums need the ability to do things one-handed – as their baby is often being held in one arm, whilst they do activities with the other. That’s the reason that the milk collection bottle on Elvie Pump can be removed from the Hub with one hand, and the Pump with Elvie app Control screen is designed for use with one hand.
They also told me that – GFP alert – “as average smartphone sizes have increased since we launched the product, we have updated the’ Pump with Elvie’ app Control screen to make sure that it’s still easy for women to use one-handed despite the average screen size changing.”
Bestill our beating GFP hearts!
None of this will surprise Alice, because the thoughtfulness of the design was something she repeatedly highlighted to me. “Someone who has used this has clearly been involved in the design process,” she said. “Like there’s all sorts of little things about it which speak to the fact that someone’s actually used it at some point in the testing and design process.”
For example, “all the parts unclip in an easy to figure out way, and then you put them into the dishwasher and then into the steriliser so it’s easy to keep it clean.” Alice was also was a Big Fan of the two bra adjuster straps that are included with the Elvie Pump. “So on nursing bras,” she explains, the straps “unclip so you can get your boob out. And this has these strap extenders, these little plastic things that you clip into the strap so that you can just put it inside your bra.”
It turns out that this thoughtful feature came about as a result of, drum-roll please, speaking to women
GFPs be like
GFPs be like
ikr. But apparently it is actually possible to find women and speak to them. Who knew!
During the development process for Elvie Pump we spent a lot of time speaking to women about their breastfeeding journey. It became clear that finding the right bra(s) was important and time consuming - and costly. We wanted to ensure that Elvie Pump could be used with the bras that users already had, which is why we designed the bra adjuster - so Elvie Pump users didn’t have to wear or buy a specific bra
I don’t know, it’s almost like engaging with your user base before you design something makes business sense or something???
it'll never catch on
it'll never catch on
And now for some EXCITING NEWS!
Elvie has very kindly given UK-based GFPs a discount code for 15% off Elvie Pump Single, Elvie Pump Double and the Elvie Curve. The code is CAROLINECP15 and it’s valid from 31/01/21 – 07/02/21, for UK-based readers only. Woohoo! GET PUMPING, BABY 👶
I know some international readers may be disappointed – Elvie has suggested signing up to your local Elvie mailing list to get alerts about future discounts.
If you do end up buying one let me know - I’d love to hear from you!
Homework
Very easy homework this week, GFPs: share the Women in Global Health PPE report far and wide! Tweet it! Facebook it! Instagram it! Other-social-media-sites-that-I’m-too-old-to-understand it! Stop people in the street! Bore your partner, your children, your dog! You know what to do 😘
Poppy pic of the week
me too, popsy, very effing much me too
me too, popsy, very effing much me too
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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