Manila, 8 March—Happy International Women’s Day! Here’s to all the women who hold up half the sky. For IWD this year, we thought about doing a women-centric infographic, coming off the pretty good reception of our previous infographic on happier countries.
And since we’re in the middle of the Philippine election season, we decided to do a Women in Power infographic. Specifically, we wanted to take a historical view on women in elective office, particularly in the House of Representatives, Senate, Vice Presidency and Presidency. We wanted to know how far we’ve come, and if any of it amounted to anything at all—an open question, as far as we’re concerned.
As for period coverage, we decided to go as far back as data available would allow. As it turns out, the Roster of Legislators on the official House of Representatives website goes as far back as the 1st Philippine Legislature, which was in session from October 1907 to May 1909. And yes, that means I now have an Excel file with all members of Congress since 1907, with each legislature occupying a separate sheet, and the women’s names highlighted.
As for the Senate, the List of Previous Senators goes as far back as 1916, or the Fourth Legislature.
After going through all the legislative periods, I came up with a summary headcount showing the number of congresswomen, senators, VPs and presidents who were in office for every period. I also noted some notables for that year—for example, I noted the first congresswoman Elisa Ochoa, and the first female senator Geronima Pecson.
The main infographic depicts the actual headcount of these people and presented the data like the volume bars in a karaoke machine, because we wanted to show the voice of women getting louder as more women got elected into office.
However, an ordinary headcount does not take into account that some positions are more important than the others; for example, there is only one President, but it’s a far more important position than a congresswoman or a senator.
To address this, we came up with the Women in Power Score, which employed weights to differentiate House of Reps seats from Senate seats, from vice presidential and presidential seats.
Computation is straightforward: 1 point for every House seat, 3 points for every Senate seat, 5 points for every Vice President, and 7 points for every President. We then plotted these in a separate bar below, grouping together scores by 15-point intervals and assigning color codes for every range.
We also decided to highlight education statistics, which we obtained from the World Bank, because we wanted to show how women’s educational attainment improved over the years alongside all these women coming to power. We enjoyed figuring out how to represent this data set, and we were pleased to end up where we did, because they look like ballots hehe.
Aside from these data we obtained from the House of Reps and Senate websites and the rich resources of the World Bank, we also wanted to include other relevant data such as the proportion of women who ever served in the Senate and the Lower House as against total men.
Lastly, I thought it’s also important to track down some milestone legislation for women over the years. Thankfully, the Philippine Commission on Women already had a compilation here.
Considering how this was even more of a cram than the last one—only a week or so to do everything, plus data-gathering/scraping/visualizing—this turned out immensely well.
In fact, if there are lacking elements, it’s likely from my end (Research)—I actually have some dynasty and party-list related datasets that did not make it to deadline. If anything, Cha made damn sure that all available details are accurately and clearly depicted in their rightful places. Amazing work as always.