Friday, January 1, 2010

Year-end obit round-up by the numbers

It happened again. Women did not die in 2009 at the same rate as men. At least according to the obituaries.

I wrote about this last year when the ratio was 36 notable men to 7 notable women. In the Notable Deaths of 2009, it was 41 notable men and 12 notable women, which is an improvement in representation (22.6 percent in 2009; 16.2 in 2008) and scope (including a basketball coach, a choreographer, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, one of two Kennedys in the list).

Apparently, being a person of color is even better guard against death, as only four non-whites were in this list: one Asian (Kim Dae-Jung, former president of South Korea), one Latin American (Ricardo Montalban), and two African-Americans (historian John Hope Franklin, and Michael Jackson).

The decade-end round up also showed these disparities with 150 men to 35 women (19%) and (as best I could tell) 30 non-whites in the total (16.2%). Of the 16 African Americans represented over the course of the decade, nine were singers.

Last year, I wrote, "I will be curious to see as the years go by if these proportions change: if we'll start seeing more notable women politicians, business leaders, and scientists; if African-Americans will be recognized for a greater spectrum of achievements. I expect that we will see this changing before our eyes. I look forward to it."

I still do.

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