I just read this interesting article on BoingBoing about how the average salary of college-educated US men and women are in sharp decline. There’s an accompanying article by economist Michael Mandel that asks what policymakers can do to try to reverse this downward trend. Interesting stuff.
But then I took a closer look at the numbers. Wait a minute. Men’s salaries are down, sure. But they are “down” to $59,000. Now take a look at the graph of the female college grads. The highest average salary for a woman? Way back in 2003…topping out at $58,000.
Yup. At our most lucrative time in history, ladies, we were still making $1,000 less than the lowest average salary for men in the last 10 years.
This is a particularly striking example of how poor data visualization can completely obscure a huge pattern in the data. By putting the graphs side by side, we assume that they line up. But in this case, they definitely don’t. Let’s take a look at them on the same scale.
This is just a quick and dirty mock-up, but I think you get the picture. Now here’s, MY question, policymakers…what can you do about this?