I was going to put the Monster Spread Sheet away after Part 5 of this series, except that someone who I used to like was mischievous enough to say that she would be interested to know how solo females fare, in the full knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to resist just sneaking a little peek at the relevant data.
After a few instability issues with Excel, and the resultant loss of more than one lot of work (really must save more often!), I’m finally there.
Before we get onto my interpretation of what might be meant by ‘how solo females fare’, it’s probably first worth looking at, in absolute numbers, how many people go solo each year compared to the total number of Challengers:
The first question that sprang into my mind on the question in hand was what has been the male/female split of soloists over the whole history of the event. It turns out, perhaps not surprisingly, that men have dominated the solo category:
The unknowns account for such a small number that the space couldn’t be found to colour it in green, per the key, but I threw them in there purely to help the numbers add up. Needn’t have bothered really as there’s still a rounding error!
Having established how much in the minority solo females have been over the course of the event, the next question that popped into my mind was whether they’ve been increasing over the years, and the answer is that yes they have. Here’s the same male/female split, but on a year by year basis (and where the curves aren’t quite mirroring each other it’s because of the ‘unknowns’, who I didn’t bother to plot):
Whilst the proportion of soloists who are female has been increasing, the next question that came to mind was whether the popularity of soloism has also been increasing amongst females – i.e. has the number of female soloists, as a percentage of all females, increased? It has, and for completeness I’ve looked at the same information for men too:
Probably best to ignore the first year, as the high percentage was caused by the fact that only four women took part in the event, one of whom went solo (clarified just in case you needed help in working out 25% of 4…). In 2012 the numbers were somewhat increased, with 27 women out of 71 being solo.
All very well as background, but it doesn’t tell us much about how those girlies fare, does it? The only information we have to try to answer that question relates to retirements and One-Timers. What I found here is that solo women are more likely to retire during the event than solo men:
The data over the whole course of the event shows that in total 13% of solo women have retired but only 11% of solo men. That one surprised me. I really did think that, at worst, it would be even, considering that in Part 2 it was shown that, overall, women are notably less likely than men to retire.
That only left one bit of information to look at: which gender is more likely to call it a day after just one challenge and never return? At a glance, the answer looks obvious: that it’s the women who are more likely to find better things to do for two weeks in May. However, when you consider that some of those bigger spikes occur when only 2 or 4 women went solo, you start to realise that things may not be quite as simple as they seem – plus there are all of those years where no solo women, but some solo men, were put off. Overall it’s a pretty close run thing, with 9% of solo women and 10% of solo men not returning after their first event – a pretty low number compared with the nearly-50% of all First Timers who become One Timers (as shown in Part 5)
So, there we go. Does that answer your question Louise?
Now, please everyone, no more irresistible data-related questions until at least the middle of next week!
(I confess that the numbers used in this post may not all be entirely accurate. On the original data a person’s status is shown as ‘S’ for Solo, ‘P’ for Partnership, ‘T’ for Trio, ‘F’ for Foursome or ‘R’ for Retired. So, it’s possible to see for definite where someone has been a solo participant, but where a person retired the basis on which they entered is no longer made clear. I’ve worked on the basis that if their entry isn’t followed by a statement as to who they walked with, then they must have been solo. However, I have come across one entry where I believe that a partnering isn’t shown for a retiree (although it’s possible that the person in question entered as a soloist, but on the ground formed part of a partnership or team). That one entry leads me to wonder whether there is a lack of clarity in some of the data when it comes to the original status of retirees.)
Click to go to previous parts of this series of posts: