Makeover Monday – Week 1, 2017: Pay disparity in Australia’s 56 highest paying professions

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2017, a year of Makeovers is ahead of us. 52 weeks, 52 data sets, 52 opportunities to practice and hone our skills to visualise data and tell stories.

Week 1 kicks off with a look at the income differences between women and men in Australia’s top paying jobs.

The original article has been posted on Women’s Agenda and much to my dismay there wasn’t even a visualisation to ‘makeover’. It’s just a list of job titles and their salaries.The data came from the Australian Government and a further article rounds out the background information.

Let’s start with the original ‘visualisation’:

Screen Shot 2017-01-01 at 12.31.24 pm.png

What I like about it

  • the jobs are ranked in order of income
  • the split into men and women makes the lists more digestible and as most readers are probably more interested in the top 5 jobs, it is still somewhat okay to expect them to do the comparisons of each gender in their head
  • if readers only care about the professions and their average income, the relevant information is available in this list

What I don’t like about it

  • I have to do a lot of work in my head to make sense of this data/information, such as reading everything, jumping back and forth between rows to compare, compute in my head, etc.
  • it is not engaging at all. It’s just a data dump. What does the author want to achieve with this? The article was written by a woman on a website focused on women (“for career-minded women”), so does she want me to just acknowledge the information? Does she want me to get angry? Does she want me to take action? I don’t know…
  • If you have to do a list, maybe at least provide some categories of the jobs, e.g. grouped into industries or by education level, etc. And given that most of the jobs are listed against both genders, the author could have created a table with the numbers for each gender next to each other in a single row per job. That way at least we can see straight away what the pay difference is for that profession.

What I did

For me it wasn’t enough to just visualise how much men and women earn in different professions, but of course to also show the difference between them.

Click on the picture for the interactive version on Tableau Public


My dashboard aims to tell a story around these differences within the following parameters:

  • I created sets of the 50 top paying jobs per gender (to stay close to the original article and what they looked at) and then combined them to come up with 56 unique professions and 100 gender + job combinations
  • for these jobs I compared the average taxable income for men vs women and the number of individuals in such roles
  • Lastly I also found it interesting that in those 100 top jobs (gender + job combination) the higher paying half was mostly occupied by men, while the lower half was mostly females. So I also looked at the share of that total income and how it is distributed.

And that’s all I did for this week. There are many more aspects to this data and plenty of directions in which people can take their data story for Week 1. This is the view I chose, aiming to keep it simple, just like in the past 🙂


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