SSRIC Teaching Resources Depository
California Opinions on Women's Issues -- 1985-1995
Elizabeth N. Nelson and Edward E. Nelson, California State University, Fresno

Appendix C:
Supplemental Instructional Materials

© The Authors, 1998; Last Modified 15 August 1998
Reminder on Reading Tables
Table C1 -- Marital Status* by Sex, March 1995

*Persons age 18 and over

Marital Status
Women
Men
Married
59.2
62.7
Widowed
11.1
2.5
Divorced
10.3
8.0
Never Married
19.4
26.8
Total (percent)
100.0
100.0
Total (in thousands)
99,588
92,008
Source: Bureau of the Census. 1996. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1996. Washington DC: U. S. Government Printing Office. P.55
Sometimes it is not obvious how a table adds to 100%. (See Table C2.) A quick examination shows that it does not add to 100% down or across. (In 1890, 84% male + 18% female would be more than 100%.) To save space, this chart omits the percent of people who are not in the labor force. In 1890, the 84% of the males who were in the labor force plus the 16% of the males who were not in the labor force equals 100%. Similarly, 18% of the females were in the labor force and the rest of them were not in the labor force in 1890.
Table C2 -- Labor Force Participation Rate* by Sex: 1890-1995

*Percent of the noninstitutionalized population who are employed or who are unemployed and looked for work in the last four weeks. (Pre-1947 figures include those age 14 and over, later figures are age 16 and over).

Year Male Female
1890 84.3 18.2
1900 85.7 20.0
1920 84.6 22.7
1930 82.1 23.6
1940 82.5 27.9
1950 86.8 33.9
1955 86.2 35.7
1960 84.0 37.8
1965 81.5 39.3
1970 80.6 43.4
1975 78.4 46.4
1980 77.4 51.5
1985 76.3 54.5
1990 76.4 57.5
1995 75.0 58.9
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1976. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970. (Bicentennial Ed.), Part I (1975), Washington DC: U..S. Government Printing Office, pp 131-32; U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1992. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1992. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, p 383; U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1996. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1996.Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, p.393.

Reminder and Exercises

Frequency and Percent Distributions, Figures and Graphs

Frequency and percent distributions use only a few numbers to describe data.

Frequency distributions use charts to list the range of possible values and the number of cases in each.

Percent distributions convert the frequencies to percentages. (Remember that the percent is the number per hundred, and the proportion is the part compared to the whole. You may want to review basic math--fractions, decimals, and percents, perhaps Overcoming Math Anxiety by Sheila Tobias or Where Do I Put the Decimal Point? How to Conquer Math Anxiety and Increase your Facility with Numbers by Elisabeth Ruedy and Sue Nirenbery.)

Exercise 1.a.

Construct a percent distribution using the information from public opinion polls on women's issues described in Chapter 2. Start with the percent who disapproved of a married woman working if her husband could support her.

Tables should have clear labels and definitions, so start your table with a title at the top that describes exactly what it is. Label the columns and rows carefully. Give the source of the data at the bottom of the table using one of the standard reference formats such as those recommended by the American Sociological Association or the American Psychological Association. (Note: Cite the source you used. Give the original source, e.g., Yankelovich, only if you actually looked it up and copied the figures from it. For this exercise, your source is Nelson, Elizabeth and Ed Nelson. 1997. California Opinions on Women's Issues: 1985-1995. Unpublished manuscript.)

Figures and Graphs

We can present the same information visually as figures or graphs.

Bar graphs and Histograms use rectangles to show the number or percent in each interval. The intervals are marked along the horizontal axis (the bottom) and the frequencies or percents along the vertical axis (the left side), so zero for both scales is in the lower-left corner.

Histograms are used with ordered, discrete or continuous data. Since age in years can be ordered and is continuous from birth to old age, we would put the bars right next to each other.

Bar graphs use separate rectangles for each unit of nonordered, discrete data. For example, marital status--married or single--cannot be quantified or ordered, so we would use a separate bar for each category.

Frequency Polygons use dots at the midpoints of each interval in a similar way. Notice that it would make sense to use a frequency polygon with ordered data such as age but not for nonordered data such as race.

Exercise 1.b.

Construct a histogram or bar chart using the same data as exercise 1.a. Remember that frequencies or percents are usually marked along the left side of the chart with the smallest numbers at the bottom and the values on the base start with the lowest values and go from left to right so both scales use the same zero.

The overall impression produced by a graph depends on the ratio of the measurements of the horizontal and vertical scales. It is important to communicate these quantitative relationships accurately. Experiment with different scales on scratch paper to find one that seems to be a useful way to illustrate your data. Connect the midpoints of the bars so you can see a frequency polygon. Again, be sure to use clear labels. Usually the title of a figure or graph (called the legend) is on the bottom. Include the source of your data in American Sociological Association or American Psychological Association style.

Example with Frequency Distribution, Percent Distribution, Dummy Table, and Crosstab

Frequency and percent distributions use a few numbers to describe the data. Frequency distributions use charts to list the range of possible values and the number of cases in each category. Percent distributions convert the frequencies to percentages.

This example comes from a study of opinions and behavior of California State University Students in 1994. The question related to the students' knowledge of pregnancy facts.

Table C3 -- Frequency and Percent Distribution of CSU Students' Responses to "At What Time in Her Monthly Cycle is a Woman Most Likely to become Pregnant?" 
 
Number
Percent
Beginning
545
27.0
Middle
1,113
55.1
End
361
17.9
Total
2,019
100.0
Source: Survey of California State University Students conducted by James Ross (1994)
The percentages show that over half (55%) of the CSU students answered the question correctly. (A woman is most fertile in the middle of the monthly cycle.)

Crosstabulation

To analyze means to break something down into its component parts and study them in order to gain a better understanding of the whole. We can look at these responses in more detail to gain a better understanding of students' knowledge of this rather important part of human life. Crosstabulation uses tables showing the number and percentage of cases in each combination of categories of the data. We might expect that students would have better understanding of health information related to their own bodies, so female students might be more likely than the male students to answer correctly. So, we hypothesize that females will be more likely to answer "middle." We can make a dummy table showing what we would expect is the hypothesis were supported by the data.

Dummy Table C4 -- Frequency and Percent Distribution of CSU Students' Responses to "At What Time in Her Monthly Cycle is a Woman Most Likely to Become Pregnant?" 
Male Female
Beginning a > b
Middle c < d
End e > f
The next table is a crosstabulation of the responses by sex, so we can look at similarities and differences in the responses of males and females. To crosstabulate by sex, we construct separate frequency and percent distributions for each sex, calculating the percentages down so we can compare across.
Table C5 -- Frequency and Percent Distribution of CSU Students' Responses to "At What Time in Her Monthly Cycle is a Woman Most Likely to Become Pregnant?" by Sex
  Male Female Total
 
Number
Percent
Number
Percent
Number
Percent
Beginning
279
30.8
266
23.9
545
27.0
Middle
448
49.4
665
59.7
1,113
55.1
End
179
19.8
182
16.4
361
17.9
Total
906
100.0
1,113
100.0
2,019
100.0
Source: Survey of California State University students conducted by James Ross (1994)

Women students were more likely than male students to answer correctly (60% of the women compared to 50% of the men answered that a woman is most likely to become pregnant in the middle of her monthly cycle).


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