That Map from The Washington Post About Female/Male Ratios Is Way Off. Here’s a New One…

While women comprise 49.6% of the global population, they have the majority in the United States, where 50.8% of the total population is female. But what do the numbers look like at the state level?

The Washington Post put together a map yesterday purporting to show which states had more women than men and vice versa. Their map was widely circulated, jumping to the number one spot on the popular subreddit Data is Beautiful.

In fact, it was the newspaper’s most read story for awhile…

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.00.56 PM

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The only problem with this map and the accompanying post is it’s dead wrong on a number of points.

Here’s the simple map that was created by the Washington Post

Male Female States

The map is very high level and only shows numbers for two states — the one with the most women and the one with the most men…supposedly.

I was initially suspicious that Alaska was listed by the Washington Post as being predominantly female. Several commenters were also scratching their heads at that since the state has a strong reputation for having a male majority, so I wanted to dig a little deeper. (Yes, I have a very exciting life.)

The Washington Post cited the “2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau” as their source. This is public information, so I went to the Census Bureau’s website, where all of this information for each state can easily be found.

Sure enough, Alaska wasn’t even close to predominantly female.

Unfortunately, that was just the first of several glaring errors in what the Washington Post had published. Once I found the first mistake, I had to keep looking for others. It’s a problem, I know.

Here’s a list of their mistakes in both their map and in the four brief paragraphs of text that accompanied it…

1. Alaska, Hawaii, and Oregon weren’t the right color on the map.

The Washington Post listed Alaska and Hawaii as having majority female populations while Oregon as listed was predominantly male. Those were all wrong.

2. “In 40 states, there is a slightly higher number of women than men…”

In fact, there are 39 states with more women than men.

3. “Females make up 51.6 percent of the population in Rhode Island, the highest rate in the country. Alabama, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma follow, each with 51.5 percent.”

There are a number of problems in this paragraph, most notably that while Rhode Island’s population is in fact 51.6% female, so is Delaware’s, which you’ll notice is missing from their list of the top states.

Additionally, there are four states (not five) with 51.5% female populations — Alabama, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. You’ll notice that New York is missing from their list, while Maine (51.0%) and Oklahoma (50.5%) were erroneously included.

4. “North Dakota, with 51.1 percent, has the highest ratio [of males]. Nevada is second with 50.4 percent, and Utah is third with 50.3 percent.”

With a population that’s 52.4% male, Alaska actually takes this prize in a landslide. North Dakota is second with 51.1%, but Nevada is actually 5th and Utah is 6th. So who’s 3rd and 4th?

Wyoming comes in 3rd, just behind North Dakota with a 51.0% male population, while Hawaii clocks in just ahead of Nevada at 50.5% male.

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Since the Washington Post story was so sloppy — and since I’m a bit of a freak who would rather read Census data than sleep — I made a new map to reflect the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 data…


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10 responses to “That Map from The Washington Post About Female/Male Ratios Is Way Off. Here’s a New One…”

  1. Sam P. E. says:

    Quit saying “in fact” when you talk about data and samples. Sampling error is a big deal :)

  2. xuinkrbin. says:

    Funny how the states which keep electing Officials supposedly engaging in a “war on Women” seem to come from states where the majority of the population is Female.

  3. ISO says:

    Am I the only one that noticed the fourth section and the map do not line up?

  4. akol says:

    exactly… and “we want more women in power without voting for them”!

  5. Joey White says:

    There are much better tools I could have used, but I hadn’t made something like this before so I just used what I initially found, which was a pretty simple Google template you can find here. It’s the second from the top.

  6. Shawn says:

    What, you expect a paper as highly biased as the Washington Post to actually do homework? How dare you! How can they so poorly portray the truth if they us actual facts?

  7. df says:

    Yes, oh god save us from social differentiation. The very idea of culture is reprehensible to me as an endlessly special individual.

  8. Hyronious says:

    It looks like the same map as the one the Washington Post used, so he probably took their map and recoloured it one state at a time using a fill tool on Photoshop or something similar.

  9. EconAdam says:

    I’m guessing these results are driven largely by women outliving men on average. It would be interesting to see this for people under 40.

  10. Chris (Guess) says:

    Chris isn’t gender normative. It’s the short form of both Christine and Christopher.

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