Denmark has a semi-formalised system of VL-groups. “VL” is short for “Virksomhedsleder” which translates to “business leader”. The groups select their own members, and the whole thing is organised by the Danish Society for Business Leadership. The groups are not composed only of business people — top civil servants and politicians are also members. The groups meet up regularly to smoke weed, sing Kumbayah and talk about whatever people from those walks of life talk about when they get together.
Before doing what I currently do, I worked for Ekstra Bladet, a Danish tabloid. Other than giving Danes their daily dose of nekkid girls with fake boobs and keeping punters abreast of phone numbers of the freshest trafficked African prostitutes, Ekstra Bladet spends a lot of time holding Denmarks high’n-mighty to account. To that end, I worked on building a database of influential people and celebrities so that we could automatically track when their names crop in court documents and other official filings (scared yet, are we?). The VL-group members obviously belong in this database. Fortuitously, group membership is published online and is easily scraped.
In case you are interested, I’ve created a Google Docs Spreadsheet with the composition of the groups as of August 2011. I’ve included only groups in Denmark proper — there are also overseas groups for Danish expatriates and groups operating in the Danish North Atlantic colonies. The spreadsheet (3320 members in all) is embedded at the bottom of this post.
Now, with this list in hand, any well-trained Ekstra Bladet employee will be brainstorming what sort of other outrage can be manufactured from the group membership data. How about looking at the gender distribution of the members? (At this point I’d like to add a disclaimer: I personally don’t care whether the VL-groups are composed primarily of men, women or transgendered garden gnomes so I dedicate the following to Trine Maria Kristensen. Also, an Ekstra Bladet journalist wrote this story up some months after I left, but I wanted to make the underlying data available).
To determine the gender of each group member, I used the Department of Family Affairs lists of boys and girls given names (yes, the Socialist People’s Kingdom of Denmark gives parents lists of pre-approved names to choose from when naming their children). Some of the names are ambigious (eg. Kim and Bo are permitted for both boys and girls). For these names, the gender-determinitation chooses what I deem to be the most common gender for that name in Denmark.
Overall, there are 505 females out of 3320 group members (15.2%). 8 groups of 95 have no women at all (groups 25, 28, 52, 61, 63, 69, 104 and 115). 12 groups include a single woman, while 6 have two. There is also a single all-female troupe, VL Group 107.
Please take advantage of the data below to come up with other interesting analysis of the group compositions.