I’ve always been a people-watcher. As a little girl, I would sit at the edge of the playroom only mildly impressed by the toys splayed across the floor, but fully engrossed by the adults in the next room who offered me a glimpse into my future. Now, I people-watch on the subway, in parks, at the mall.
People are fascinating.
Coffee shops are great for people-watching; data is better.
Every millisecond we generate a bounty of data. With every purchase, click, tweet and photo snapped and shared we create a window into our lives. Data explains who we are and what we do. It helps us understand the world around us – and improve it.
If you work with data, you’re aware of how empowering insights are, but you may forget just how cool data is.
This is why we started the #DataDiaries.
Each month, we’ll share a video of someone “geeking out” about a piece of data that resonates with them. The data points will all be vastly different, in terms of subject matter and their significance to each individual, but every video will highlight the human element of data. They’ll be fun to watch, and I bet they’ll make you think of one or two data points that gave you a “lightbulb moment.”
I’m going first.
My lightbulb moment came during a tedious two-hour commute home, as I watched a documentary called Miss Representation. Caroline Heldman, Associate Professor of Political Science at Occidental College, said: “Little boys and little girls, when they are seven years old, an equal number want to be president of the United States when they grow up, about 30 percent. But then you ask the same question when they are 15, and you see this massive gap emerging.”
I hit pause. Talk about a powerful statistic. I started texting friends “Hey did you know…” messages.
Never before had a statistic felt so personal. At one point, I had wanted to be President. In seventh grade, my family visited the White House, and I bought a book entitled, “How to become President of the United States”. I still have it. But, somewhere along the way, that dream just faded away.
I think the documentary’s tagline hits the nail on the head: You can’t be what you can’t see.
The data makes a compelling case:
- Women make up 51 percent of the US population; however, women comprise only 20 percent of Congress.
- 79 women have served as national leaders in 58 different countries. The United States is not one of them.
- 37 women have served as governors; the record number of women serving simultaneously is 9.
I guess it’s easy to lose sight of this reality. I certainly did. But data doesn’t.
Data pulled me back and demanded I really think about where we are as a society and what I hope to see change. I don’t have the answers, but at least I’m thinking. And hopefully you are too. Data did that.
A close-up on Lindsey:
Lindsey Pritzlaff is a Content Marketer at the IBM Center for Applied Insights, where she manages the communications strategy for research projects and leads video production. Lindsey joined IBM in January 2015, bringing a broad range of experience across marketing and communications channels. Prior to joining IBM, she produced for Fuse News, a music news show. Lindsey previously worked as director of communications for Make-A-Wish New Jersey and began her career at CBS News. Throughout her career, Lindsey has lived out her passion for storytelling. Her work spans vastly different subject matters, from interviewing rapper T.I. to covering the 2008 presidential primary. Lindsey is a lifelong resident of New Jersey and uses her two-hour commute to watch Netflix—or nap. An avid sports fan and ”retired” athlete, Lindsey volunteers as a soccer coach at the high school for which she previously played.
Fun fact: Lindsey was on an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Figure It Out” with Summer Sanders.