Read it and weep. Weep with anger at the sheer scale of the absence of data on women’s lives from the most mundane activity through to matters of life and death. Weep with laughter at the fact that men would rather be a blue hedgehog than a female character in a video game. And weep with gratitude for Caroline Criado-Perez, the woman who has given it to us.

At Fawcett we spend a lot of time talking about and producing data. It is gratifying to see some of our research cited in Caroline’s book. I spend many hours of my life explaining why it’s different for women, why we have to think about women in all their diversity, why we have to make women visible in the data including collecting and counting intersectional data etc. But even then as I read page after page, as this book reveals the unfolding breadth of the paucity of data on women’s lives, my emotions range from disbelief to anger, from despair to resolve to do something about it. The simple shocking question is how have we allowed half the global population be so absent, so invisible? The answer, of course, is patriarchy. The power to decide and define what is important, what is superior, what matters, who owns what, still lies overwhelmingly with men. We design male bias in and then bake it for many hours, just for good measure. The default male is the norm and women are deviant. Niche.

One of the most touching sights in recent days has been watching via twitter the response of women all over the world collectively saying “so that’s why!” as they realise that all those individual experiences and things which just don’t fit or feel right, or which don’t respond to their needs are all because their world was designed by men for men. As a result, Caroline probably already has enough material for book 2. For me it’s the bar above my head on the train that I can’t reach when I have to stand on the way to work. It’s the design of the cupboards in my own kitchen (FFS! But in my defence, I didn’t put them there) which are just too high up. It’s being asked to sit on a bar stool for panel debate when I didn’t wear trousers that day so I really would prefer a chair thank you very much.

The book makes the case that men do not deliberately set out to design women out of car safety, leaving women 47% more likely to be seriously injured; nor do they intend to ignore women’s (very different to men’s) heart attack symptoms for example which mean women are 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed. But instead they (and we, as society joins in) simply use that default male for everything. But why should we even think that is going to work? It’s a bit like putting a 10 year old’s clothes on a toddler and being surprised when someone points out that they don’t fit. Importantly, making everything gender neutral doesn’t solve the problem as research shows when we hear ‘person’ we still think ‘man’. So we have to make women visible in their own right.

One of the biggest, most glaring global injustices which Invisible Women addresses is the lack of recognition for women’s unpaid work. This work both enables men’s contribution to the economy and also counts as a major economic contribution in itself. As a result, women are often working longer hours than men when they are both combining paid and unpaid work. Yet the world of paid work is designed around the lives of men who traditionally can work unencumbered by dependents. We know that this is changing, as dads spend more time caring for babies and children, but government policy, at least in the UK, still thinks it’s 1950.

A fundamental point on which the book is very clear is that biological sex matters. From the default office temperature to the design of the crash test dummy; from the testing of medicines to the design of protective clothing for the armed forces; there are physical, biological differences between women and men which must be taken into account. Gender, of course, matters too as this overlays and distorts everything. But one thing is certain, thanks to Invisible Women, we will never look at the world in the same way again.

Pre-order Invisible Women, by Catherine Criado Perez here