The Data on Racial and Gender Bias

Among some of the more fasincating facts I have found includes research that Ian Ayres from Yale has done on the topic of racial bias in society. He has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times today:

Bus drivers were twice as willing to let white testers ride free as black testers (72 percent versus 36 percent of the time). Bus drivers showed some relative favoritism toward testers who shared their own race, but even black drivers still favored white testers over black testers (allowing free rides 83 percent versus 68 percent of the time).

A great follow-up to Sunday’s Nick Kristof column:

The study found that a résumé with a name like Emily or Greg received 50 percent more callbacks than the same résumé with a name like Lakisha or Jamal. Having a white-sounding name was as beneficial as eight years’ work experience.

These data points might be alarming and depressing. Our reaction might even be to deny that this is the case. But we cannot fix problems without seeing and identifying them. One interesting point raised by Matty Yglesias yesterday:

the statistical controls that reveal that don’t make the problem of the wage gap go away. They help us identify where it exists. Some of it exists inside the companies where women work. Some of it exists inside household dynamics and broad social expectations of how family life should work. And some of it exists at the level of occupations, where women’s job opportunities are structured in an economically unhelpful way.

Once we figure out that a problem exists, and where it exists, it is much easier to tackle it.

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson on Net Neutrality

From Medium:

Make no mistake, speed impacts the bottom line. Research from Google and others demonstrates that delays of milliseconds have long-term negative impacts on revenue. If people click on an Etsy seller’s shop and perceive images loading slowly, they will click away, and that seller will lose the sale. This isn’t just about a high-bandwidth service such as video. It’s about any business that depends on the Internet to reach consumers, including the entrepreneurs on Etsy.

Flowing Data for Data Visualization Ideas

How The Wirecutter Works

David Carr linked to this Google Hangout about The Wirecutter and Cooltools. It was an interesting conversation that explained the Wirecutter’s approach to things, and how they are the modern Consumer Reports:

DJ Patil's Memo to the American People

DJ Patil is well known in the data science community and I think it is great that the Obama Administration scooped him up to help with their data efforts. He has outlined his role and the potential impact of data science today:

The Obama administration has embraced the use of data to improve the operation of the U.S. government and the interactions that people have with it. On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13642, which made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information. Over the past few years, the Administration has launched a number of Open Data Initiatives aimed at scaling up open data efforts across the government, helping make troves of valuable data – data that taxpayers have already paid for – easily accessible to anyone. In fact, I used data made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve numerical methods of weather forecasting as part of my doctoral work. So I know firsthand just how valuable this data can be – it helped get me through school!

It is exciting to see the administration embrace the power of data. I hope that other governments follow their lead.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.