Numbers don’t lie, but when rendered into graphs and charts, they can be incredibly misleading. Case in point, this Reuters visualization of the glass ceiling in Fortune 500 companies.
On its own, this image (by graphics editor Steve Culp) looks so positive. You can watch as women build a mountain to the top of the corporate food chain! How high do they climb? Who knows! It’s to the top of the graph! And everyone knows that graphs, above all else, should go up! Up is good!
But look closer, and you’ll see, women CEOs only account for 4% of the Fortune 500.
It’s a visual lie brought to light by New York artist Jonathan Keller Keller, who corrected the graphic by adding a persistent, more reasonably scaled y-axis. Without question, Keller’s fix provides a more accurate, grounded presentation of the truth: There may be more female CEOs than there used to be, but a woman at the head of a Fortune 500 company is still a very rare sight indeed.
UPDATE: Reuters has added the improved graph to their story.