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Iron Viz Gender Diversity

Two weeks ago, I attended my first Tableau Conference and it was amazing. It was my first chance to meet many of the members of the community and my Tableau idols. But, for me, one of the most interesting parts of the conference came at the very end. After the main conference was over, members of the Tableau community gathered for an event called Fanalytics. After a some brief presentations (including myself, Chantilly Jaggernauth, Emily Chen, and Corey Jones), we broke into groups to discuss various topics of importance to our community. These topics including everything from attribution to hacky vizzes, but the one that most caught my attention was “Women in Iron Viz,” so I eagerly joined this discussion, which was led by Tableau Ambassador, Ann Jackson.

One of the drivers of the conversation was the fact that there have been zero women in the Iron Viz competition in the past three years. And the question, of course, is why? Is there some sort of gender bias built into the contest itself? Are there not enough women entering? Do we need to see changes in the judging process? We had a tremendous conversation, but we were  left with far more questions than answers. At the end of the discussion, we had only one conclusion—we needed to see more data!! Specifically, we wanted to do some sort of comparison between the number & percentage of entries into the feeders and overall Tableau Public activity. So, after the conference, Ann got to work right away and quickly compiled a data set of all Iron Viz feeder entries for the past three years. While she was collecting that data, I reached out to Josh Tapley, who recently created the Cerebro Project, which collects information about Tableau Public authors and their vizzes. It currently contains a cross-section of our community of over 1,200 authors. Once we had both data sets, we did our best to determine the gender of each of the authors (we used some APIs and databases which contain the most common genders based on first name as well as manually reviewed user profiles). In the end, we had a fairly comprehensive data set which allowed us to do the comparison we sought.

But, as is often the case in our field, Ann immediately saw an interesting story in the data and produced this wonderful visualization showcasing women who have participated in multiple feeders. Unfortunately, it’s too wide to embed in this blog, so please click on the image to see the full viz. I personally love the caption in the lower right corner, which reads, “A conversation starter by @AnnUJackson.”


One thing that is very clear from this viz is that women are entering the feeder competitions. But, for some reason, despite so many incredible women entering multiple contests, only men have gone on to compete in the finals. Why is this? Unfortunately, my visualization, which compares feeder entries to activity on Tableau Public in general, doesn’t answer those questions either, but like Ann, I am hopeful that, by shining some light on the topic and providing the data, we might be able to continue this important conversation.



Note: To view this visualization outside of this blog, follow this link.

Ken Flerlage, October 25, 2017

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