Reading Comprehension – Most of recorded human history is one big data gap
XAT 2021 Exam Paper – Reading Comprehension – Most of recorded human history is one big data gap
Read the following passage and answer the three questions that follow.
Most of recorded human history is one big data gap. Starting with the theory of Man the
Hunter, the chroniclers of the past have left little space for women’s role in the evolution of
humanity, whether cultural or biological. Instead, the lives of men have been taken to
represent those of humans overall. When it comes to the lives of the other half of humanity,
there is often nothing but silence.
And these silences are everywhere. Our entire culture is riddled with them. Films, news,
literature, science, city planning, economics. The stories we tell ourselves about our past,
present and future. They are all marked—disfigured—by a female-shaped ‘absent presence’.
This is the gender data gap.
The gender data gap isn’t just about silence. These silences, these gaps, have
consequences. They impact on women’s lives every day. The impact can be relatively minor.
Shivering in offices set to a male temperature norm, for example, or struggling to reach a top
shelf set at a male height norm. Irritating, certainly. Unjust, undoubtedly.
But not life-threatening. Not like crashing in a car whose safety measures don’t account for
women’s measurements. Not like having your heart attack go undiagnosed because your
symptoms are deemed ‘atypical’. For these women, the consequences of living in a world built
around male data can be deadly.
One of the most important things to say about the gender data gap is that it is not generally
malicious, or even deliberate. Quite the opposite. It is simply the product of a way of thinking
that has been around for millennia and is therefore a kind of not thinking. A double not
thinking, even: men go without saying, and women don’t get said at all. Because when we say
human, on the whole, we mean man.
This is not a new observation. Simone de Beauvoir made it most famously when in 1949 she
wrote, ‘humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself, but as relative to him; she is
not regarded as an autonomous being. […] He is the Subject, he is the Absolute—she is the
Other.’ What is new is the context in which women continue to be ‘the Other’. And that context
is a world increasingly reliant on and in thrall to data. Big Data. Which in turn is panned for Big
Truths by Big Algorithms, using Big Computers. But when your big data is corrupted by big
silences, the truths you get are half-truths, at best. And often, for women, they aren’t true at
all. As computer scientists themselves say: ‘Garbage in, garbage out.’
Q.! Based on the passage, which of the following statements BEST explains “absent
A. The absence makes the case for the need for presence.
B. By its sheer absence, it is present.
C. The presence is felt due to the specificity of the absence.
D. The absence is female-shaped, making it present.
E. Because of the absence, one can recognise its presence.
Q.2 Based on the passage, which of the following options BEST describes “double not
A. Whenever humans are mentioned, it is men; further, women are not mentioned.
B. Men, over millennia, always confused human with being only male.
C. Men not thinking and women not being allowed to think is due to double not
D. Men’s rejection of women as humans and women’s acceptance of it is the double
E. Over millennia, men and women have been conditioned to treat women as unequal.
Q.3 Which of the following statements can be BEST concluded from the passage?
A. The gender data gap is amplified by data-based decision making.
B. Emphasis on data-based decision making, can be devastating to women, given the
gender data gap.
C. The need of the hour is to revisit the past, and reduce the gender data gap at the
D. Women have never been treated as distinct identities which causes the gender data
E. Over millennia, men ignored women, which resulted in the gender data gap and