The Alphabet Project

I is for Inventors


When I was growing up, my family told me I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to do. I never once doubted that I could be a woman in STEM. I had strong female role models throughout my education and even when I was the only woman in the room, I was rarely made to feel out of place.

But I am one of the lucky ones.

For so many women and girls, this is not the case. They may be told that they can be anything and do anything, but they may not see any role models around them. They may grab opportunities but be spoken down to or asked to fetch the coffee (yes, this does still happen). Fortunately for me, this has only happened a few times and I’ve had a strong enough network around me to show me that it’s their problem, not mine.

As soon as Adam told me what this week’s theme was, I knew I wanted to look at female inventors, but when doing some background reading, I found a BBC article that asked the question “Why are so few women inventors named on patents?”. I followed the link to the original piece by the Intellectual Property Office and knew I wanted to focus on this.

The Viz

An original draft of the viz had viz in tooltips and multiple dashboards, but I wanted to lay it all out on the page and have the data tell the story. Without wanting to get on my soapbox, women are hidden away all too often without me hiding them in my viz.

I also didn’t want to use the old “pink for a girl, blue for a boy” colour palette so I dug out an old blog by Lisa Charlotte Rost that I’d read and built upon a tweet from John Burn-Murdoch. I loved the idea of using the palette from the “Votes for Women” campaign as part of the suffrage movement, just like The Telegraph.

Once I’d built the charts out and placed them in the viz, I began adding text to explain the viz but the description of how data was collected didn’t really fit. It’s an important part of the viz and I didn’t want to leave it out, so I created my own info button and added it as a tooltip.

I love adding an info button in a viz.
I created this one in powerpoint and added details of how the data was collected.

Finally, I’ve included links to or and want to encourage you all to take a look at both sites. They are both doing brilliant work to encourage girls into STEM subjects from an early age and keep them engaged.

What’s next?

I’m known as a bit of a magpie by my friends and family. I love anything that sparkles, so next week’s choice was an obvious one for me…

J is for Jewels

Be sure to check out Adam’s viz next week and don’t forget to read his blog


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