Every time I need to create a gender-related chart, i.e. the number of men or women doing XYZ and I need to use colour to define between them, I always ask the same question?
Should I automatically use pink for girls and blue for boys?
There are a dozen reasons why not – and I’d prefer not to get into a gender debate here (there are more suitable locations for that sort of debate).
However, when creating charts it’s important to keep things simple and ask as little as possible of the reader. In this case – should be expect the reader to re-align their assumptions about colours, and have to work out that, for example, green is male and orange female?
Chart A – gender-stereotype arguments aside, it’s clear in this chart what the colours represent.
Chart B – we’re now expecting the reader to not only “de-programme” their assumptions about colour, but also use the key to work out which is which.
A few thoughts:
- i guess we should all start “de-programming” ourselves and getting out of the habit of automatically using pink for girls and blue for boys. By continuing to use those colours, we are perpetuating the problem
- How do we speed up the processing of the chart, and remove this extra step of looking at the key.
- Do we come across the same problems with the male and female “toilet” symbols – yes, we understand what they mean, but again, do they cause issues?
- Also, this chart is MUCH harder to read as we are having to analyse the “shape” of the markers (which are very similar), instead of the colour.
Comments are sadly closed due to spamming issues, but I’d love to know your thoughts via the social media buttons you can find on the right!
A data visualisation / infographic showing the results of a survey of young people about their arts activities
The graphic was created for a downloadable PDF report about the Hello Culture conference
The colours matched the corporate branding of the Hello Culture brand, and the division between live and non-live was decided by the client.
The chart was created in Tableau, and manipulated in Adobe Illustrator
I have been a Visiting Tutor at Birmingham City University on and off for more than a year, but today I experienced that mythical “sense of satisfaction” that teachers talk about.
I held a short data visualization workshop for some 2nd year Online Journalism students today – who were incredibly hungry for the information. For the past few weeks they had been gathering spreadsheets and reports and were now desperate for interesting ways to show this. Some were also concerned that they didn’t have any data as such, just lots of information
- data is not just numbers – it is information, lists, reports, structures, things you’ve found out – anything that could be displayed visually
- expand the data – add new information – i.e. bring value to a list of companies by adding company type, location, size etc.
- shrink the data – a list of spending at every university could be rehashed into a smaller dataset of spending in the West Midlands – compare across region.
- compare the data – download the same dataset for previous years, so you can compare over time.
- confused.com? – untangle a complex situation with an organisational chart – help the reader understand who does what.
- processes – have you found out how something gets done? Then, why not create a flow chart showing the process – ie the flow of money, responsibility, communication
- missing information? – start a partial organisational chart – flag up where data is unavailable due to corporate privacy protection – ask why
- tell the backstory – create a timeline showing key events. Helps the reader understand the context of the story
- compare lists side by side – a list of UK universities by League table position, next to a list of UK universities by satisfaction rating – draw lines between the same establishment in each list, and you show any general patterns, are satisfying universities generally the best performing?
- Word Clouds – not to be used for academic/journalistic analysis but definitely interesting as a bit of illustration/front cover.