Thought this was…

Thought this was fascinating -- Sri Lanka's Women Ranked Ahead of U.S.

The World Econ Forum ranked "countries by the gender gap between men and women from a report by the World Economic Forum, based in Geneva. The countries are ranked in four areas: economic participation, education attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment."

Sri Lanka is #16 while the U.S. is #19. Interesting! The highest possible rank is 100 -- it looks like Sri Lanka's women do excellently well in economics and do a bit more than half as well as the men in education.

overall %: 74.58%

economic participation: 89
educational attainment: 57
health and survival: 1
political empowerment: 6

[later note: as Jed pointed out in comments, I totally got confused about the rankings -- 1 is top, 100 is bottom. So reverse my commentary below.]

But pretty awful in politics and horribly in health and survival. Sigh. I guess if you manage to survive, you have a decent shot at doing okay financially.

I admit that I'm surprised that American women are lagging so far behind American men in education -- I had thought that we were approaching parity at the college level. I'm not sure how to make sense of that statistic. (a score of 1, almost complete inequality)

4 thoughts on “Thought this was…”

  1. The combination of percentages and ranks is very confusing, but I think you may have misinterpreted the columns.

    The first column is a percentage, where 100% is the highest. But the other columns appear to be ranks, where 1 is the best.

    So the US is 31st in economic participation, and Sri Lanka is 89th. The US is 6th-best in terms of gender gap in educational attainment, and Sri Lanka is 57th-best. Both are ranked #1 in health and survival. Sri Lanka is ranked 6th in political empowerment, while the US is 40th; which suggests that Sri Lanka does a much better job than the US of reducing the gap between men and women in politics. That appears to be the main reason Sri Lanka ranks higher than the US in the overall scale.

    I’m not absolute certain I’m understanding it right, but I think I am—note that the top-ranked countries have a 1 in the Education rank and the bottom-ranked ones have numbers well over 100.

  2. I think Jed’s right, but the table still doesn’t make any sense to me. How is Iceland, with ranks of 18 1 96 1, higher than Lesotho, with ranks of 1 1 1 34? Or if higher is better, why is Switzerland’s 30 71 74 13 worse than Lesotho’s numbers?

    The only thing I can think of is that the percentages aren’t just a function of the numbers; that what they’re actually doing is coming up with a score for each of the four things, turning that into the overall percentage, and then also listing the *ranks* for the scores, rather than the scores themselves. That’s very opaque, though.

    A bit of evidence: Lots of places have a 1 for education; the second lowest number is Ukraine’s 23… And in fact there are exactly 22 places ranked (tied for?) 1.

    Interesting data, but a terrible presentation. Tufte would not be pleased.

  3. You can see the full report over here. The percentages are the average of the scores in each category, not the RANK in each category, so they do make sense.

    (Iceland’s overall score is 85.0%, with 75.4% in economics, 100% in educational attainment, 97.0% in health, and 67.5% in politics; Lesotho’s overall score is 76.8%, with 87.9%, 100%, 98.0%, and 21.3%, respectively. The gaps between nations in terms of politics is MUCH wider than the other categories, while the health gaps are the smallest.)

  4. Actually, the economics one has a slightly wider range… here’s the spread for all four, out of 134 nations:

    Economic participation and opportunity: 87.9% to 19.5%
    Educational attainment: 100.0% to 50.9% (the top 99 nations are over 95%)
    Health and survival: 98.0% to 92.9%
    Political empowerment: 67.5% to 0.0%

    Overall ranks go from 85.0% to 46.0%

    As for the two nations at hand, here’s the breakdown:

    UNITED STATES
    Overall: 74.1%
    Economic participation and opportunity: 79.9%
    Educational attainment: 100.0%
    Health and survival: 97.9%
    Political empowerment: 18.6%

    SRI LANKA
    Overall: 74.5%
    Economic participation and opportunity: 60.1%
    Educational attainment: 99.3%
    Health and survival: 98.0%
    Political empowerment: 41.0%

    (All percentages have been rounded to the nearest tenth.)

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