Welcome to the latest installment of Data Tells a Story, in which we round up our latest favorite data stories. This week: the data gender gap; using data to grow the perfect Christmas tree; and how colleges are like Amazon.
Apple Health, a “comprehensive” app that lets users track “everything from calories to electrodermal activity to heart rate to blood alcohol content to respiratory rate to daily intake of chromium,” is missing an important component: it doesn’t track menstruation.
Many of the menstruation and fertility apps that exist now are also lacking in that they focus on moods (“men want to know when their girlfriends are going to be grouchy”) and approach getting pregnant “like a level in a video game.” Some women developers are creating tracking apps to meet their own needs and address the gaps seen in apps like Apple Health.
Hillary Clinton also recently addressed this gender gap in data gathering and proposed a “gender data revolution” in order to paint a fuller “picture of the lives of women and girls” and “make the case for why public policies around the world need to change.”
For instance, in India “only 6% of women were officially counted as employed,” but “after further research, it was discovered that women do six hours of unpaid work on average outside of the traditional economy every day.” Bringing these women “into the paid economy at the same level as men,” says Fortune, would increase India’s GDP by $1.7 trillion.
In 2012, Clinton announced the Data2X initiative, which has the goal of using “data to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
After the grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen, President Obama announced the creation of a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Newsweek suggests that in order for the approach to be “truly ‘21st Century,’” data must be used to improve performance, and the “the task force needs to recommend ways to collect data about various aspects of police operations and provide open access for rigorous public examination.”
What’s the best way to grow a Christmas tree? Let big data tell you.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and other partner universities are developing software “that will connect genetic, physical, and environmental data housed in more than 15 major plant databases.” The collection and analysis of such data not only benefits crop science, it helps “to help address important ecological issues like reforestation and climate change.”
Combining this data with information obtained via drone technology can help scientists begin to understand important questions such as the effect of climate change on a forest’s biodiversity.
About 125 colleges and universities around the U.S. are using “the performance data of former students to predict the outcomes of current ones.” Using a process similar to that employed by Amazon and Google to predict consumers’ purchasing behavior, schools have “seen impressive declines in the number of students who drop out, and increases in the proportion who graduate.”
The payoff, says TIME, “goes beyond graduation rates.” Students who stay keep paying tuition, and schools can avoid the cost of recruiting new ones, which is about “$2,433 per undergraduate at private and $457 at four-year public universities.”