Creative ways of representing the gender gap

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So, a bit more than 50% of the world’s population are women. About 22% of the world’s elected legislative representatives are women (see here) and the UK is just about average on this front.As of January 2014, 9 women served as Head of State and 15 served as Head of Government.(There are 195 independent states in the world).

Sounds a bit abstract? Here’s another way of thinking about it:

Here’s a picture of world leaders and influential politicians participating to the Charlie Hebdo solidarity march. Look at it carefully:

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish paper in Israel decided to photoshop and crop out female politicians, because their editorial policy forbids pictures of women. Let’s see how this looks like:

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Monday graph: 30000 Brits claim unemployment benefits in EU countries

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Fresh from the Guardian!

EU_Unemployment_DatablogThere’s some data missing that may be relevant (I’m thinking especially about Britons claiming unemployment benefits in the Netherlands) but it’s still very interesting.

One thing the graph does very well is to remind us that yes, British people on benefits in EU countries do exist, it doesn’t only happen the other way around.

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Monday Graph: UKIP Maths

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This Monday, I’m featuring a very interesting and witty resource I discovered on Twitter: UKIP Maths are debunking affirmation made by UKIP members in their campaigns, and fighting them with cold hard facts.

Let’s look first at this graph; column on the left shows the Government’s estimates of the percentage of the UK population born overseas; the column on the right is from a 2013 ONS poll and shows the percentage of the UK population that respondents intending to vote UKIP at the next elections believe was born overseas.

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(In case you’re wondering, the general public estimated the number of foreign-born people in the UK as higher than the actual figure, at around 25%; but UKIP supporters overestimate it by a wider margin).

So, UKIP supporters tend to think there are much more immigrants in the country than there actually are. Fair enough.

But it gets more interesting…

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David Cameron misreads statistics again

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David Cameron the mask slips

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No way. Just… no way. There are many things I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages; things that are not David Cameron. But do I ever catch a break?

Turns out Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, has issued a letter refuting the Prime Minister’s claims yet again. This time, it is over his affirmation, in his Conservative Party conference speech, that Britain “is paying down its debts”.

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Thank you to Dr. Eoin Clarke for sharing!

Stuff Explained Sunday: Mean, Median and Mode

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Since I’ve been writing about statistics quite a bit (here and here), and since I happened to come across a really cute illustration on a blog in (I think?) Bosnian (yay for Google translate!), this week’s Stuff Explained Sunday will be about mean, median and mode.

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So, we can see in this illustration how much each of these guys (individuals in the population) earned last month.

Now, we could say that the arithmetical average wage in the population is $5,700; with the variant “look, the average worker at my company earned $5,700 last month, can the union get off my back already??”. Which is arithmetically correct.

Except this gives us a very skewed view of how most individual guys in the picture are actually for themselves: only 4 people in the group are earning $5,700 or more, 20 are earning less, and a lot of those 20 quite a lot less.

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This happens because the distribution is skewed.

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A quick recap for David Cameron

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David Cameron the mask slips

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So, glancing at the paper on my way to work yesterday, I came across this :

“Cameron also joked about taking legal action against pollsters who suggested the two campaigns were neck and neck, when the final result saw 55% vote no to independence and 45% yes.

“I’ve said I want to find these polling companies and I want to sue them for my stomach ulcers because of what they put me through. It was very nervous moments,” he said.”

Now, now… see what that statistical margin of error can do? The moral, gentle readers, is that learning about statistics can save you a stomach ache.

Also, do learn how to read demographic stats, too.

On “voodoo polls” and why we shouldn’t ever use them

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So, after writing about David Cameron’s shoddy use of statistics in the Telegraph and now the margin of error in one YouGov poll that might just have changed the fate of the referendum and what happens after, I found myself thinking a lot about how official statistics and opinion polls are being used and reported in the media, and what pitfalls lie there.

Today, for instance, i want to talk about the “voodoo poll”, so called because it’s about as scientific as voodoo (and presumably because for the serious researcher seeing it reported as a serious poll in the media feels like a stab in the heart from a distance).

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A “voodoo poll”, or open access poll, is one where a non-probability sample of participants self-select into participation.

In human language: sampling is the use of a subset of the population to represent the whole population. In probability sampling (random sampling), we have ways of calculating the probability of getting any particular sample, and therefore we can rigorously infer from the sample to the general population.In non-probability sampling, we do not; and therefore we need to use them with care.

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