Snow Clearing is Sexist?

by | Oct 1, 2020 | ICT4D |

Women use public transit more than men. Therefore they use the sidewalk (also called pavements in parts of the world) more than men. And men drive more than women.

However, most cities clear snow off the streets first and leave the sidewalks till much later. And yet, it’s easier to drive through three inches of snow than push a buggy through it. A study in one Swedish town found that pedestrians were three times more likely to be injured in icy conditions than car drivers; and 70% of those injured were women.

One of the reasons for this, argues the book Invisible Women, is not lack of data, but lack of looking at the data. Assuming men and women are the same and thereby using a ‘gender blind’ approach results in missing key aspects – like who uses what transportation.

Snow clearing stood out to me probably due to being Canadian. There are many other examples – how cars are designed, public toilets, office temperatures, and so on.

While creating a presentation this week, I googled ‘person icon’ and noticed the vast majority of options are male. I faced the same challenge looking for icons of groups, networks, and so on.

Data is a reflection of life. And life is unequal. Therefore the data is too. However, more and more data is shaping our culture – societal and organisational culture.

Most teams leading digital transformation or disruption work in organisations are male dominated. And, writing as a male, we miss things staring at us in the data. Or don’t notice missing data. And so the ratchet turns and we exacerbate the inequality.

Maybe it’s time to put ‘diversity of team’ as a performance metric in all leaders and managers performance appraisals?

Photo by Victória Kubiaki


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