Makeover Monday: OCDE Women Work Hours

Last week I attended the first Data+Women meeting in London, organized by Emily Chen from Information Lab and Sophie Sparkes from Tableau. The idea is to create a platform to discuss some of the issues affecting women’s careers in tech a predominantly male industry.

Read more about it here and join us next time

As if on purpose this week’s MakeoverMonday  looks at a chart by Credit Suisse on an article about women’s working hours across the OCDE countries. Click the image below to read the article.


Here’s what I liked about it, the chart is clean with no grid lines as we’ve seen previously, and the number of categories aren’t so many that it becomes hard to see the distribution.

However, the chart title is confusing “Female hours worked relatively low” I’m unsure at what it’s referring to. Is it a specific country? The original article was focusing on the US but as working much more that other countries.

The number of countries selected is unclear, why these ones? I personally would have added some context for the reason behind these in the article. For instance the choice of France a country with a history in workers rights and one that is already looking at flexible week hours in comparison to the US, a country with notorious failures when it comes to hours worked, holidays and maternity leave, to me is a better story than. “Women in the US work more.”

To create mine, I had this thought of doing panel charts, which I’ve seen recently done by Ramon Martinez here, however as soon I checked twitter to see what others had done Andy Kriebel had beat me to it and created the best way to visualise the data. See it for yourself here.

After that I played with a few ideas and got some inspiration from the Financial Times team. I really like their design and the clean and smooth look they achieve.


My first attempt was OK, I decided to compare regions first before drilling down to country and I liked the tree-maps and the area charts on their own but together they were very overwhelming.


I decided to switch the charts to a bar chart but horizontally aligned, which resulted well I think, after that I still had to deal with the area charts, which turned out to be better as line charts and this is the end result, click for interactive version:

Women work hours

To finish I created a note to show when Portugal is selected and it disappears when any other country is picked. This is to explain the sudden increase in 40+ hours and the comparable decrease in 35 to 39 working hours. Sometimes if time allows it’s useful to add some extra information that helps the viewer understand changes in trend better.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit of the process I go through when creating a visualisation such as this, we often only see the end result but the number of iterations behind the scenes is staggering, sometimes we have to try and try until we find something we are happy with. Other times the simplest of charts is the best.

Don’t forget to check out the other entries on twitter.

Thank you for reading