Understanding statistics

There are many ways to learn about and understand gender equality. Statistics are one way we count and track social change.

While statistics are useful, it’s important to understand what they mean and what they don't mean. We can start with an understanding of the nature of the data collection itself: Who is asking the questions? How are they asking them? Who is answering the questions? For example, people who do not have telephones, have low literacy, do not speak English or French, or who are not comfortable talking to a telephone interviewer may not be counted in a survey.

We need to view statistics with caution and a critical eye. Statistics can’t tell us how it feels to experience inequality, poverty, or violence. In some cases, statistics can’t even tell us what the real numbers are. The vast majority of incidents of violence against women, for example, are never reported.

In Yukon, our small population makes it challenging to draw conclusions based on statistics or to compare statistics with other jurisdictions. Sometimes statistics can’t be released because the sample is too small to be statistically significant or because of concerns about confidentiality. Fluctuations in the numbers in Yukon can appear more dramatic or more variable than in other jurisdictions.

What statistics can do well is work as ‘indicators.’ Because the same statistics are measured over time, they become statistical indicators that can show change.

Statistics are a quantitative measure. Qualitative measures—like interviews, stories or focus groups—are also important. They may be even more so when it comes to measuring effects on complex or marginalized populations. For this reason, this site includes qualitative measures of equality, featured on the interactive timeline.