Women in Data Visualisation

Feeling frustrated after listening to an all-male panel discuss data visualisation using examples that had only been created by men, Stephanie Evergreen decided to collect a list of all of the badass females working in the industry, who perhaps don't get enough credit for all the awesomeness they bring to the field.

She has handily categorised the list by:

  • Bloggers with data visualisation instructions
  • Bloggers with data visualisation advice
  • Designers with inspirational portfolios
  • Putting data visualisation in the news
  • Speaking / teaching on data visualisation
  • Tweeting about data visualisation

She admits that she has more than likely missed off a few women, but do check out the full-list over on Stephanie's site and give them all a follow on Twitter.

I admit that I often feel pretty lucky to work in a field where there are so many inspirational women to look up to, and yet in the grand scheme of things we're still under-represented. At data conferences the majority of speakers are still men (though the number of female speakers has significantly increased), of the books I have read relating to information design, only one has been written by a woman and I would guestimate that most of the blogs in my data visualisation RSS feed are written and run by men. I don't really even need to mention the distinct lack of data design "godmothers" or "heroines", though we have an abundance of "godfathers" and "heroes". 

That's not to say that things aren't getting better. I certainly follow many more dataviz-women on Twitter now than I did a few years ago, more and more women are writing about and publishing in the space and it's been refreshing to see female-led studios win global awards and gain huge amounts of recognition for ground-breaking work. 

In my experience, the data visualisation community has always been welcoming, and I can't honestly say that I've seen the same outright displays of sexism that I have in other industries (I'm looking at you web design and game development... ), though that's not to say it doesn't exist (yes, I know it's hard to believe, but women can code).

I'm hoping that with more and more women joining the field, we'll start to see a change in the ratio and a more equal level of representation across the board. Although it is disheartening that Stephanie felt she had to create this list to remind everyone that there are in fact some fantastic ladies in this space, I wonder how long the list would have been 5 years ago. It's encouraging to see how this community has grown over the past few years, and I hope it continues to move in this positive direction.