Caroline Criado Perez

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Writer, Broadcaster and award winning feminist campaigner, Author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, about her career.

Caroline is also one of the keynote speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Caroline will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

Caroline is a writer, broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner. She is published across the major national media, and appears in both print and broadcast as a commentator on a wide range of topics.

Her first book, Do it Like a Woman, was published by Portobello in 2015. It was described as “a must-read” by the Sunday Independent and “rousing and immensely readable” by Good Housekeeping who selected it as their “best non-fiction”.Eleanor Marx hailed it in the New Statesman as “an extended and immersive piece of investigative journalism.” Her second book, INVISIBLE WOMEN: exposing data bias in a world designed for men, is published in March 2019 by Chatto in the UK & Abrams in the US.

Caroline has a degree in English language and literature from the University of Oxford, and studied behavioural and feminist economics at the LSE. She was the 2013 recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year award, and was named OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

At the conference, Caroline will expose data bias in a world designed for men. She will be discussing how, in a world largely built for and by men, women are systematically ignored.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I took my time figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. I didn’t go to university till I was 25. It was there, in my second year, that I read a book called Feminism and Linguistic Theory – and everything changed. I had always dismissed feminism and feminists, preferring to see myself as “one of the guys.” But this book made me realise that one of the things I had always dismissed (that so-called generic male words like “he” to mean “he or she” or “man” to mean “humankind” were in fact not generic at all) was absolutely correct. Because it made me realise that I was in fact picturing a man whenever I heard those words. And that completely transformed my world view, in no small part because I was just so shocked that I had been picturing men for 26 years and had never noticed. It made me evangelical about making everyone else see this bias too. And that is what pretty much everything I’ve done since has been about.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Absolutely not! I meandered to where I am today.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

I’m not sure I particularly see myself as a motivational speaker! I am passionate about changing people’s minds about feminism and speaking is one of the ways I try to do that.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

When the Scottish government announced that they were setting up a working group on collecting sex and gender disaggregated data in large part because of my book. That was incredible.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

They will understand why it’s so important to collect sex-disaggregated data!

What are your top three tips for success?

Do what you’re passionate about.

Don’t worry about people thinking you’re not “nice”: if you’re a woman trying to change things, a lot of people won’t like you.

Get a dog.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

All the hate that accompanies any woman with a public profile

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

All the women who fought for our right to vote. They were so gutsy and fierce, and more radical than we can ever imagine being. The sheer effrontery of demanding the vote in the 1800s! I don’t think we can understand how outrageous a demand that was. But they fought all their lives for it against seemingly insurmountable odds – and they won. That gives me hope when I feel hopeless.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Women do 75 per cent of the world’s unpaid carework and it has a massively negative impact on their health and their careers. It can be be overcome by governments collecting data on this work (without which everything would fall apart) and creating policy to support it, including policy that encourages men to do their fair share.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Free universal childcare.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

If boys think you’re too loud they are the problem, not you.


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