Women are big in education ... but not that big

10th September 2010 at 01:00

The graph illustrating the article "Men's disappearing act is cause for concern" (September 3) is a terrific example of the sort of thing Darrell Huff complained about in his famous 1954 book How to Lie with Statistics.

Because two-dimensional representations have been used, the sizes of the figures should be determined by making their areas proportional to the percentages. In this case, however, it is their heights that are proportional to the percentages. This gives a wholly misleading impression, most notably in the last pair of figures where an almost invisibly small man (representing 3 per cent) stands next to a hugely disproportionate woman (representing 97 per cent).

The area of the man is one-thousandth the area of the woman, making it look as if men are outnumbered by women by 1,000 to one, instead of around 32 to 1.

Matthew Handy, Head of mathematics, Dotmaths, York.

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