5 Plots on Gender You Have to See

Here are some of the latest and greatest Plotly plots! Check out our Tumblr to see this same post with the interactive plots embedded, and to find more awesome content.


In the words of Tammy Wynette, “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman” — but it’s hard for so many other reasons than the responsibility to stand by your man. Ladies face a lot of challenges in the workplace and the classroom, and these five plots illustrate just that.

1. Women Make Less Money than Men for the Same Jobs

This line and scatter chart is adapted from Ben Chartoff’s recreation of one that appeared in the New York Times in 2010, under the title “Why is Her Paycheck Smaller?” From the Times:

Nearly every occupation has [a] seemingly unbridgeable chasm between the size of the paycheck brought home by a woman and the larger one earned by a man doing the same job.
See the interactive graph

As you can see, the gap gets wider for higher-earners, both in raw numbers and proportionally.

2. Sometimes, Being in the Minority at the Bottom Correlates to Being in the Minority at the Top…

Joshua Drew at Columbia University published a preliminary figure of the gender ratios of conference speakers to conference organizers for Society of Conservation Biology meetings. The result? If there were fewer women organizing a conference, statistically fewer women spoke at it.

We graphed seven years of data from the Society of Conservation Biology annual meetings and showed a strong relationship between the number of women organizing a symposium and the number of women speaking in that symposium
See the interactive graph

Be careful drawing conclusions from this plot, though. As plot #4 shows, the relationship between representation and discrimination is complicated!

3. …and Women Are In the Severe Minority In Engineering and Technology

Randal Olson is a PhD in Computer Science, and had noticed most of his classes had a pretty paltry gender ratio. He ended up digging into the details of gender distributions across undergraduate majors over time, and writing a blog post about it.

See the interactive graph

He uncovered the fact that, particularly compared to other departments, there are proportionally few women in engineering and technological fields. While you can’t get very far these days without tripping on an article about the tech gender gap, there’s value to visualizing it — the gender ratio in Computer Science is back down to what it was in the ‘70s!

[The gender gap in Engineering and Technology] has severe consequences. Computer Science and Engineering majors have stagnated at less than 10% of all degrees conferred in the U.S. for the past decade, while the demand for employees with programming and engineering skills continue to outpace the supply every year.

4. Even Female Professors Tend to Favor White Males

Professors Katherine Milkman at Wharton, Dolly Chugh at NYU, and Modupe Akinola at Columbia sent thousands of identical emails to professors across the country. The emails were written in the voice of a prospective graduate student interested in the professor’s research, and requested a ten minute meeting.

Researchers randomly signed the emails with names that signaled different gender and racial identities — “Brad Anderson” is one name that they used to signal “caucasian male”, “Keisha Thomas” signaled “black female”, “Gabriella Rodriguez” signaled “hispanic female”, etc.

Then, the researchers tracked the emails for responses. Read the details here.

See the interactive graph

Basically, in every department outside the Fine Arts, emails signed with a “white male” name received more attention than almost any of the others — even when the professors were themselves women or members of a minority group.

Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from Caucasian males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions. Counterintuitively, the representation of women and minorities and discrimination were uncorrelated.

5. And If That Wasn’t Enough — Women are “Bossy!”

This last plot has to do with Sheryl Sandberg, who is perhaps the most famous woman in technology today. She thinks “bossy” is a gendered word, with serious consequences for young girls. Her non-profit LeanIn.org and the Girl Scouts of America have teamedup to “eradicate” it.

From the “Ban Bossy” website:

When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up.

Linguist Nic Subtirelu, who writes at Linguistic Pulse, decided to investigate the actual use of the word “bossy.” Was it mostly leveled at women? Was it mostly leveled at children — (“Is the word ever used to describe anyone over the age of 11?” one skeptic asked)?

Yes, and yes.

See the interactive graph
In my sample, bossy was used nearly three times as frequently for women and girls as it was for men and boys. I found no evidence to suggest that this trend is specifically related to young girls as adult women were labelled bossy at nearly the same rate relative to men as girls were to boys.

Subtirelu later discovered that only 37% of the people mentioned in the CCOA are female, which means this effect is even more dramatic.

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