Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

Gender and Willingness to Participate in Unpaid Work Activities

December 18th, 2015

Here are the results of an informal Twitter poll regarding gender and whether or not a person engages in unpaid professional development activities and/or contributions to the profession outside of regular business hours.


This indicates that approximately 14% of the female respondents don’t do unpaid field-related work while approximately 20% of the male respondents don’t do unpaid field-related work. Two of the things I can think of that would make this poll less than reliable are:

  • It was worded such that if you ever once did unpaid work you could have answered yes whereas there very well could be a genderized difference in the amount of unpaid work people do and this poll didn’t get at that.
  • If you aren’t someone who generally participates in unpaid work related activities, you very well might not be on twitter to answer the poll. Twitter participation, I suspect, at least somewhat skews towards those who are interested in professional development. At least in the geo-space. Low sample size in general is also relevant to this bullet point.

However, I think that what the poll might be able to tell us is that we haven’t proven that women do less unpaid work. It was posited at a meetup more than a year ago that perhaps women aren’t as present at meetups, hackathons, and so on, because they are, on average, more apt to be doing other unpaid work (with the hidden subtext being that they were doing the childcare and household chores more than men). And further it was suggested that if hackathons and such would pay their participants, that more women would jump on that train.

This obviously doesn’t prove that at all. However, I think the only way to really get something a bit more scientific going would be to try a meetup or hackathon with a significant payment to all participants and see what results.

Ahem. So yeah, once again you were reading to find out what the answer is when you find out that the researcher says “more study needed.”

Visual thresholds for cartographic features

December 4th, 2015

I was surfing posts on GIS stack exchange, as one does, when I came across this post featuring a French textbook figure on cartographic visual constraints. It’s a handy little reference piece on minimum point sizes, gap widths, line widths, area differentiation thresholds, and so on, so I translated it to English to share with you here.


I’m not by any means a French speaker so if you see any problems with the translation please let me know and I will fix the graphic. (Edited 12/10/15 as per Bennett’s comment below.) I’ve left the commas instead of replacing them with periods, due entirely to laziness and my faith in your intellectual agility.


Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration