Data Visualization: Critique Wk 4

What’s the gender gap at your pay level?

Created by Andy Cotgreave of Tableau, featured on The Guardian’s Data Blog

This is a great example of taking nationwide data and making it personally relevant to each reader. Interactivity is always tricky because you can end up asking the reader to do too much to make the visualization work. In this case, all one has to do is type in their annual salary, or if they’re too lazy to do that, they can use a slider to gradually increase the amount, or even increase it step by step by clicking on the left/right arrows.

With this we can easily see how the chart responds as the median income level goes higher or lower. Without too much effort, we can see how big the gender gap becomes as the median income goes up. We can draw are own conclusions from this but we can plainly see that despite all the progress made, women are much less likely to earn as much as their male counterparts especially at the top level jobs.

Aside from being able to see a national trend in earnings for each gender, the immediate impulse is to compare ourselves and make a mental image of where we would land on the map. This is why this visual works so well. The graph is uncluttered with extra numbers (although you have the elegant option of viewing them when you mouse-over), the distinction between the male and female icons is clear and distinct and the red median line runs throughout the graph so you don’t have to keep looking down to refer.

While the amount of the gap is obvious, I feel that while searching for numerical answers, the representation becomes a little murky. Why use median and not the average? With the median, it’s a little hard to make sense of the amounts. The median is the middle value. So lets say there is more space to the left of it. This shows how far below the median salary of women is compared to the median of both. But wait! The median of both is represented by the red dot, not the red line, which you have to remember as your income, not the average income. It’s a litte tricky but not impossible to push through.

Out of curiosity, I took the income slider all the way to its maximum (115,000) but found that the values started to disappear after 95,000, so I thought it was strange to see it extend further than that without anything happening.




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