For the third installation of Tableau Public Revizited, we’re looking back at a powerful viz created by Kaleigh Piscioneri just over a year ago, on January 30, 2019. In her viz Kaleigh does an exceptional job breaking down the gender gap in sports. Let’s look at a few elements of this visualization that make it so effective.
What makes this great data viz?
- Use of Color – I absolutely love the colors Kaleigh uses in this viz and the faded gray is a perfect compliment to let that red really pop, grabbing the reader’s attention. The red is a powerful color to use here and is simple to understand. Anytime we see red in the viz, we know that color is associated with women, as Kaleigh ties it into the quote at the top of the page, as well as in a couple of other places. I can’t imagine a better use of color to tell this story. In my opinion, Kaleigh nails it!
- Chart Selection – The stacked horizontal bar charts at the top of the viz are nice as they do two things, aiding in the telling of the story while also separating the title from the rest of the visualization.
- Unit Charts – The main focal point of the viz, Kaleigh’s use of the side-by-side unit charts is brilliant. The charts help drive home the disparity in earnings of professional male and female athletes better than any other chart Kaleigh could have placed here. We can quickly see that in 2017, of the Top 100 highest paid professional athletes in the world, just one was a woman. And in 2018, zero were women.
- Donuts – Below the unit charts, Kaleigh looks more in depth at the difference in male to female average salary in three sports; basketball, soccer and tennis. The difference in basketball, where the average female salary is 1.3% that of the average male salary, is staggering to see visually. While soccer is not much better, tennis has far and away the smallest gap of the three sports. I like the use of donuts here, as it allows Kaleigh to add the KPIs in the center, while also including the background image to help the reader understand which sport is which.
- Tooltips – Upon first seeing the side-by-side unit charts, your initial thought is likely that you’re interested in knowing which athletes represent each of the dots. It’s a perfect use case for tooltips and Kaleigh does a great job of including more detail, as the reader hovers over a mark. While hovering on a mark, we can see that the female athlete who shows up in the 2017 Top 100 is Serena Williams. Name, rank, gender, sport, country and salary are all included in a very clean, compact layout. Nicely done!
Exploring the viz – I was particularly interested to see which NBA players would show up each year. The reason being is that in 2015 the NBA salary cap was around $63 million, meaning each team could spend that amount of money on their roster, before being hit with penalties/taxes, if they exceeded that amount. By 2017, in large part to new TV deals, the cap had jumped to just north of $94 million, an increase of $31 million dollars from where it was in 2015. This led to teams over-spending on mid-level (average in terms of talent) free agents in 2017 and 2018, as they had the cap space to burn. Knowing this, I wanted to see how many of those mid-level players made the Top 100. After exploring the viz, I found five players who fit this description; Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, Nic Batum, Steven Adams and Otto Porter Jr. were all among the Top 100, despite none of them ever being selected to an NBA All-Star game. While Batum and Parsons were making eight figures even before their new, free agent deals, the average salary of Barnes, Adams and Porter Jr. jumped from $4.3 million to an astonishing $23.1 million. Nothing like getting a near 600% raise for being just ok at your job!
Overall, I feel Kaleigh does a wonderful job of combining the elements we covered, to bring attention to this glaring gender gap in the earnings of professional athletes. Great viz, Kaleigh!