In my very first edition of this newsletter
back in August of 2019 I wrote about how the growing movement of women (and a heartening number of men) all fired up about closing the gender data gap had made me feel less angry and less alone.
There are a few questions that I’ve been asked repeatedly in the six months since Invisible Women came out. “What was the worst example of the gender data gap you came across?” is a common favourite. “How do we get men to read it / are any men reading it?” is another. But probably the most common one is, “How are you not furious ALL THE TIME?”
I’ll get to the other two questions, but to answer the final question first: it’s because of all of you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still furious a lot of the time, but I spent three years writing the book in a state of permanent rage, with no outlet. I felt alone and isolated with this explosive knowledge. I knew that what I was writing was important – too often life or death important. But I also knew that there was a chance I wouldn’t be believed. After all, I’m not a scientist. And I’m a woman. A woman writing about sex and gender. I knew – and my research confirmed this – that all this meant I was up against some in-built assumptions that would make me a far less credible witness than, say, a white male psychology professor to just pluck one example out of nowhere.
And that knowledge, that permanent anxiety, on top of the facts I was uncovering, that I wouldn’t be able to do those facts justice, made me furious. All the time.
But then the book came out. And there you all were. An army of very visible women (and yes some men). And not only did you tell me that the world suddenly made sense to you, that you felt seen. You started sharing your own stories. You started telling them to me, to other people, to strangers in queues for the toilet.
And I stopped being so angry. I stopped feeling so powerless, alone at the top of my mountain of gaps. I felt like I was witnessing the birth of a movement.
But I also started feeling a bit anxious again. Here I was, in the privileged position of being sent personal stories, research papers, engineering solutions, concrete changes that were being implemented as a result of someone having read *my* book. Plus more toilet queues than I knew what to do with. And I knew that these were all important. That something needed to be done with them. But what?
This newsletter was my answer to that question and I’ve been writing it on and off ever since, joined by an increasing number of simply awe-inspiring people.
The responses I get after every edition are always so wonderful. So many of you so kindly get in touch just to tell me how much you enjoy the newsletter and obviously these emails always make my day. Others get in touch to share traumas they have experienced that relate to something I have written about that week, and knowing the newsletter has made you feel less alone, or has made you realise that what happened to you wasn’t your fault, never fails to humble me. Still others get in touch to share their expertise on a topic, or to share examples of gender data gaps they have come across, or to share papers and articles they think I will find interesting – which I always do!
I also am regularly contacted by readers who have been inspired by the book and/or the newsletter to create something of their own – an activist group, a company, a product – that will close a data gap or correct a male bias, and of course these are some of my favourite emails to get, because this is exactly why I wrote Invisible Women: I wanted things to change. I wanted people to know what I knew, and then be inspired to go away and fix something in their area of expertise. These people are sometimes getting in touch just to thank me for inspiring them, but they also often get in touch for advice or to ask if I have any contacts I can share with them.
I feel, when I read these emails, more than ever, that this is a movement, whose power could be unstoppable. The only thing stopping us from fully unleashing that power is that at the moment it’s all mediated through me, one person who is doing this in her spare time. Invisible Women could be so much more.
So, deep breath, this is where I ask you if you’d like to take one further step on this journey you’ve been on with me. I want to do far more with this project than I am currently able to do. I want to be able to track what is going on in the world of gendered data gaps and default male biases much more closely. I want to track where we are going right and where we are going wrong. And I want to really turn this into a movement. I want to be able to connect people – I want to be able to connect you. Because closing the gender data gap was never going to be the work of one person: it was always going to have to be a movement. And the more emails I get from you the more I think: WE NEED TO BE CONNECTED. All of us.
What I want to create is a space where GFPs can meet and discuss ideas, plans, experiences. I want to build a proper community around this newsletter. This already happens to a certain extent on my instagram and twitter…