Imagine getting dressed in the morning and pulling on your one-size-fits-all pants and one-size fits-all sweater. You slip on your one-size-fits-all shoes and take a look in the mirror.
Do you look and feel your best? Ready to kick ass and handle whatever the day throws at you?
More likely, you’re tripping over your clown shoes. Your sweater hangs to your knees or barely covers your stomach. Your pants are either too long or too short – there is no in-between. Even though these garments get the job done on a basic level, their usability is not optimal. You don’t look or feel your best, and you’re already at a disadvantage before you leave the house.
These clothes weren’t made with you in mind, and it shows. You’ll have to work harder than those in tailored outfits just to do the most basic tasks without getting left behind.
From the size of our phones to the temperature of our work environments, women are doing what we’ve always done: making the best of an ill-fitting situation and adapting as quickly as possible to get the job done.
Hard to believe? Let’s look at the data (or lack thereof)…
“We are living in a world made for men, itself a product and a way of thinking that has been around for millennia – and which, is therefore a kind of not thinking…It comes from assuming that a male’s viewpoint is the ‘default’, while women – half of the global population – are a niche interest.”Caroline Criado Perez, Invisible Women: Data Bias in A World Designed for Men
If you’re a woman who can use her smartphone easily with one hand, you’re in the minority. Smaller hands (on average women’s hands are an inch smaller than men’s) mean more typos, more difficulty zooming in and out, and less convenience due to needing 2 hands to perform functions men are able to complete using only one hand. Not to mention that screen sizes keep getting bigger. Plus, it’s widely reported that voice recognition on smartphones responds better to male voices than female voices. Et tu, Siri?
Do you have to keep a sweater at your desk at all times because of your frigid work environment? That’s because standard office temperatures in the United States are based on calculations from the 1960s on the metabolic rate of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man. Everything about that sentence is outdated! In 2015, a study discovered that a woman’s metabolic rate can be as much as 35% the male rate by these calculations – meaning up to a 5 degree difference in which temperatures feel comfortable. That’s not all, though. From the design of your chair to the size of your keyboard, ergonomics most likely took their data from male users, not females.
Women are 47% more likely to sustain serious injuries in an automobile crash. Why? Well, for one thing, women are generally shorter and sit closer to the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals. This placement is not ideal and will result in more internal injuries upon impact.
Secondly, it wasn’t until 2012 that the government began adequately using female-proportioned crash test dummies. Safety features and statistics completely ignored half the world’s population when designing the vehicles we trusted to keep us alive every day.
It’s no secret that women serving in the armed forces and as first responders have a harder time than their male counterparts. Setting aside the staggering numbers of sexual assault and sexual violence against women in the military, there are some very basic issues with what our female soldiers, officers, firefihgters, and even astronauts have to wear.
Protective gear is primarily designed for male shoulders and male hips. Shirts and pants are designed for male bodies with very few curves. Even the sizing can be an issue, as female astronauts discovered in 2019. When NASA announced it would have to cancel its all-female space walk because there were not enough properly sized space suits to fit the team, there was quite an uprising on Twitter.
Scanning our school textbooks over the decades reveals that only 10% of the names mentioned are female. Of course, we know that’s partly due to centuries of oppression and patriarchy – white men’s names are in the books because white men had the power, made the decisions, and won the glory.
But we also know that women have spent those same centuries making huge contributions to society and history that have been ignored, forgotten, or flat-out stolen by men.
Of course, the problem is that it’s a major challenge to change our education to provide more accurate, inclusive stories. And once a young girl has spent a year in the classroom hearing about the accomplishments of 1 woman for every 9 men, she starts to think – ever so slightly – that boys are smarter and more capable than girls. Her dreams get smaller, and her self-confidence drops.
Women deserve to attend schools, utilize the best technology, and thrive in careers that don’t treat them as “invisible” just because it’s convenient. They shouldn’t have to work twice as hard for equal footing.
It’s our world, too, and we’re sick and tired of “making it work.”