In the last lecture, we looked at what gender is, how it is different from sex, and how it is at least partly a “social construct,” meaning, a reality created by society and culture. All social constructs serve some purpose, but they can also create very adverse “brute facts.”
Big Question to Answer: Just how much gender inequality is there in the world and what does it look like?
One of the “brute facts” related to how the female gender is constructed is the inequality, the vast difference between the lives of women and men. While we might understand that in the abstract, what does it mean on a personal level? Here’s a story of someone facing the brute fact of gender inequality:
Intro article: The Worth of a Girl
How common is Mwanahamisi’s experience? It is undoubtedly different from the lives of typical modern Japanese or American young women. To answer that, we need a lot of excellent data to understand what is happening in the world today. Individual stories are critical of course –they make abstract issues human. They are not enough, however, since they may not tell us much about the bigger picture.
A better picture comes from what is called “Big Data.” This is information from large sets of data that can be analyzed by computers to show patterns and trends that are often hidden.
This “Big Data,” though, is often difficult to understand, even for experts in the field. Interactive graphics (from reliable sources!) are great tools to help us understand the state of gender inequality worldwide.
Exploring “Big Data” of Gender through Information Graphics
[ Adapted from 7 Data Visualizations that Opened the World’s Eyes to Gender Inequality by Katja Iversen, at medium.com ]
1 Gender Equality in Schools Decreases Child Marriage
Mwanahamisi was lucky to escape a young marriage, but many of her friends and family were not. And the way she escaped showed something remarkable. The education that young women receive is directly related to how soon they marry. The more school, the later the marriage. While this is not the only factor (especially not in Japan!), the trend is pretty clear.
Use Gapminder to see the changes over time, as well as comparisons between countries as of 2005. (Note, this is the most current data that Gapminder has.)
Challenge 1: What is the data for your country? Which country has the earliest first marriage? How many years of schooling do young women in that country receive? Which country has the oldest age of first marriage? Why do you think that is?
2. What’s Your Pay Gap?
Source: The Wall Street Journal
In the US, women make, on average, 78% of what men earn for the same jobs. Globally, the rate is 50%. This interactive graphic looks at the pay gap in 442 occupations in the US.
Challenge 2: Use the graph to find the pay gap in the field (or similar field) to the one you hope to enter after graduation. Which fields have the smallest pay gap? Which fields have the largest? What could explain this situation?
3. Abortion Rights Around the World
Source: The Guardian
Abortion laws vary greatly around the world. While only six countries completely ban (make illegal) abortion, there are many places where abortion is greatly restricted. This includes several parts of the United States. Many people, including the United Nations, consider access to abortion part of the reproductive rights of women.
Lack of access to safe abortion can lead to women trying unsafe and hazardous methods and is a leading cause of death during pregnancy.
Challenge 3: Using the chart, find which countries ban all abortion. Then, find out information about your country. Under what circumstances is abortion permitted in your country? What was the “Maternal Mortality Rate” in your country in 2010? Which countries have the highest “Maternal Mortality Rate”? What might explain this?
4 How Nations Stack Up on Gender Equality
Source: The World Economic Forum
This final information graphic shows the gaps between women and men across four key areas — economics, politics, health, and education — to determine which are the best and worst countries for gender equality
This data comes from the 2016 report by “World Economic Forum.” It covers 144 countries and has eleven years of data.
Challenge 4: Which are the top five countries overall? Do any of them surprise you? How about the bottom five? Any surprises? Next, which of the four areas — economics, politics, health, and education — has seen the least amount of growth globally over the past decade? Why do you think this is so? Finally, find the information for your country about those four areas. What is your comment about your country’s data?
Leave your answers to challenges 1 ~ 4 in the reply below. Due before next class. [Note: While each of these information graphics is accessible through a smart phone, they are much easier to navigate on a larger device, like a tablet or a noteboook computer.]