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International Women’s Day: Data Sources for Research

International Women’s Day: Data Sources for Research

Image adapted from “International Women’s Day” by worker via openclipart.org.

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

First recognized by the United Nations in 1977, International Women’s Day dates back to 1909 with the first National Women’s Day organized by American garment workers. Celebrated annually on March 8th, this day highlights the accomplishments of women and the work yet to be done to achieve gender equality across the globe.

One of the ways that governments and civil society organizations can measure how a particular group fares within society is through data collection. Since researchers often ask librarians where to find data and statistics, this blog post in celebration of Women’s History Month provides a selection of online data tools along with resources exploring the gender data gap. These tools can be helpful for students in social sciences, humanitarian studies, journalism, business, health sciences, computer science, and beyond.


Gender Data Sources

Curious about the status of women around the world? Need statistics about gender to support an argument in a paper? Explore the following open access data tools from intergovernmental organizations and global partnerships:

  • UN Women Data Portal – Offers interactive data dashboards, reports, country fact sheets, news, and more. It includes a section with data and reports on the gendered impacts of COVID-19.
Image credit: UN Women | Women Count logo
  • The World’s Women 2020 – Trends and Statistics – An interactive collection of data and stories from the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA). Taking COVID-19 into account, it presents the latest assessments of progress towards gender equality in six critical areas: population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child.
Image credit: Sample data from UN DESA on women and STEM education visualizing data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Database for the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Gender Data Portal from The World Bank – Provides the latest sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics covering agency, demography, education, health, access to economic opportunities, public life, and decision-making. Includes datasets and embedded tools to visualize data.
Image credit: Data visualization of the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments via the Gender Data Portal from The World Bank.
  • OECD Gender Data Portal – Presents selected indicators highlighting gender inequalities in education, employment, entrepreneurship, health, development and governance through datasets and interactive charts.
Image credit: Gender Wage Gap chart via the OECD Gender Data Portal.
  • For statistics specifically focusing on the United States, Census.gov is always a great place to search. Consult the Bureau’s press release for International Women’s Day listing a range of data sources featuring the accomplishments of women. Data.gov is another option when searching for open datasets published by federal agencies.
Image credit: Change in Women’s Participation in Selected Occupations Since 2000 graph via the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gender Data Gap

Despite the resources shared here, finding data about women and gender at home and internationally can still be difficult due to the gender data gap. This refers to data collection where gender is not included as a category for tabulation and analysis. When data is not disaggregated into separate gender categories, researchers are unable to track different experiences or outcomes by sex or gender. 

Curious about how the lack of disaggregated gender data impacts public policy, economic programs, product design, the future of data science, and more? We’ve got you covered with the following resources:

  • Check out the Country Profiles from Open Data Inventory (ODIN) and look for recommendations about disaggregated gender data. This organization “assesses the coverage and openness of official statistics to identify gaps, promote open data policies, improve access, and encourage dialogue between national statistical offices (NSOs) and data users.”
  • Data2X of the UN Foundation advocates for “unbiased and gender-sensitive” data collection methods among national statistical offices. Their online Resource Center offers a glossary, reports, articles, news, and much more about the importance of gender data.
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez (Random House, 2019) is an extensively researched, award-winning book documenting gender data gaps on a wide variety of topics impacting the lives of women.
  • Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein (MIT Press, 2020) recently won the American Studies Association DH Caucus book award. This title presents seven principles for what an intersectional feminist approach to data science could look like. An open access copy is available here from MIT Press.

Still Have Questions? Ask a Librarian!

For these resources and more, check out the Finding Data tab on the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies research guide, as well as other guides such as Demographic Data & Population Studies, New York – Researching, LGBTQ Studies, Economics, and Humanitarian Studies.

If you cannot find the data and statistics you need, use the Ask a Librarian chat service or schedule a research consultation with your library liaison. We are always happy to meet with you one-on-one to dig deeper and explore resources.

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