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Presentation of gender statistics in tables

Modified on 2013/05/21 12:25 by Haoyi Chen Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 4 - Analysis and presentation of gender statistics
Although they may not have the wide appeal of graphs, tables are necessary forms of presentation of data. Many statistical publications have as main objective the dissemination of data collected and have to be specific about the values observed for the characteristics measured, and this can be achieved in large, comprehensive tables. Such tables are often placed in the annex of the publication and therefore called “annex tables”. Annex tables may present information on several characteristics and indicators, covering several breakdown variables in a single table. By comparison, text tables are smaller tables that are referred to in and are part of the main text in the publication. They are often needed as support of a point made in the text. In that regard, tables are always a better alternative than presenting many numbers in a text, making the explanation in the text more concise. The selection of the data to be presented in small tables depends on the findings of analysis in terms of most interesting groups or most striking differences or similarities between women and men.

Finally, some of the data that need to be presented may be easier conveyed in a table than in a graph. Most often, when data do not vary much across categories of a characteristic or they vary too much, tables are a better choice of presentation than graphs. List tables, tables with only one column of data, can be used, for example, to present data with not much variation between categories. They can show, for example, the regions of a country with the minimum values observed for fertility rates or for the proportion of women married before age 18. For instance, Table 4.2 shows the states in India with the lowest proportion of women age 15-19 who have had a live birth. Lists are often in ascending or descending order of the variable, rather than alphabetical order.

Table 4. 2 States with lowest percentages of women age 15-19 who have had a live birth, India, 2005-06
  Women 15-19 who have had a live birth (per cent)
Himachal Pradesh 2
Jammu & Kashmir 3
Kerala 3
Goa 3
Delhi 4
Uttaranchal 4
Punjab 4
Source of data: India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India, 2007. National Health Family Survey 2005-06, vol.1.

List tables or tables with two or more data columns can be used when the values observed for some categories vary extremely compared to the rest of categories. For example, Table 4.3 shows adult mortality rates by cause of death that vary widely from one cause of death to another.

Table 4. 3 Estimated adult crude death rates by cause of death, South Africa, 2008. Selected top causes of death
Crude death rates (per 10,000 persons age 15-59)
Causes of death Women Men
HIV/AIDS 81 65
Respiratory infections 8 11
Diarrhoeal diseases 7 5
Malignant neoplasms 6 7
Cardiovascular diseases 5 7
Injuries 3 12
Maternal conditions 3 ..
Nutritional deficiencies 2 1
Tuberculosis 2 7
Source of data: WHO, Global burden of disease database online (accessed January 2012)

Tables are an interesting form of presentation when the focus of analysis is a breakdown variable that is associated with a number of related indicators expressed in different units. Table 4.4 shows, for example, that in India more years of schooling of women are associated with lower teenage pregnancies, lower total fertility rates and lower under-five mortality rates for their children.

Table 4. 4 Demographic indicators by mother's number of years of schooling, India, 2005-06
Women age 15-19 who have had a live birth (per cent) Total fertility rate (live births per 1000 women) Under-five mortality (deaths per 1000 live births)
No education 26 3.55 81
<5 years complete 16 2.45 59
5-7 years complete 15 2.51 55
8-9 years complete 6 2.23 36
10-11 years complete 4 2.08 29
12 or more years complete 2 1.80 28
Source of data: India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India, 2007. National Health Family Survey 2005-06, vol.1.

Tables may be a better alternative than graphs in presenting changes in the values of multiple indicators (or one indicator disaggregated by a multi-categorical variable) between two points in time. Table 4.5, for example, shows the increase in women’s participation in most of the parliamentary committees in Sweden between 1985 and 2010. Similar tables may be constructed to present, for example, changes over time in participation of women in managerial positions within regions of a country, or changes in sex ratio in the youth labour force within the largest cities of a country.

Table 4. 5 Women in parliamentry committees, Sweden, 1985 and 2010

Per cent women in total members in each committee
1985 2010
Labour market 27 65
Taxation 13 59
Health and Welfare 47 59
Education 27 59
Housing/Interior 13 53
Traffic 20 53
Finance 20 47
Justice 27 47
Constitution 20 47
Environment and Agriculture 20 47
Foreign Affairs 27 47
Cultural Affairs 60 41
Defense 20 35
Social Insurance 60 35
Industry 20 29
All committees 28 48
Source of data: Adapted from Statistics Sweden, 2010. Women and Men in Sweden 2010. Facts and figures. Official Statistics of Sweden.
  • + Box 4.3 Summary of recommendations for user friendly presentations
    • In the presentation of gender statistics, some simple rules apply:


    • Women and men should be presented side by side to facilitate comparisons.

      Women should always be presented before men.

      The words women/men and girls/boys should be used instead of females and males (which have a biological connotation) whenever possible.

      When data are presented to a broader audience, numbers should be rounded to 1,000, 100 or 10 and percentages to integers, to facilitate the comparison between women and men

      The gender-blind total should be deleted in tables and graphs to facilitate comparisons between women and men.

      In tables, align alphabetic text, such as labels, left. Align numeric values right, usually on the rightmost digit. If numeric values are decimals, align them on the decimal point.

      Charts that give clear, visual information should be used instead of tables whenever possible.

      Too many categories should be avoided in pie charts and stacked bars.

      Use the same color for women along all charts

      Preference should always be given to a simple layout in designing charts:

      • Only one type of gridline, either vertical or horizontal should be used, or not at all;

        Ticks are not necessary on the axis representing a qualitative variable;

        Labels for values presented inside a graph are distracting and redundant;

        Graphs with a third unnecessary dimension are misleading.



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