Meet the Men Who Thought Up and Created the GenderAvenger Tally App

(NOTE: Last week GenderAvenger launched the GenderAvenger Tally, an app created especially for all of us who want to make sure that women are always part of the public dialog. The GA Tally lets you create a “gender balance” pie chart for an event you see advertised or attend, an anthology, a “top 30” list or anything else where women should be (or are) represented. You simply put in an identification of what you are tallying — such as a hashtag or name of an event, publication, etc. — and the number of men and women. The GA Tally creates the pie chart and offers a quick click thru to post on FB or twitter. Read my blog for how the idea and beta app came about.)

Matt Stempeck

Matt Stempeck

Yonatan Kogan

Yonatan Kogan

Nate Matias

Nate Matias

When GenderAvenger was still an idea and not yet a web community, I met my friend Eli Pariser, the founder of Upworthy, at Café Select in New York for dessert and brainstorming. Sometime during the conversation he said that I needed to figure out how to use conference hashtags as part of the communication about gender balance. I tucked it away in my “really good idea” file. Two months later, after the launch of the GenderAvenger website, Matt Stempeck, an original GenderAvenger enthusiast, called and told me he had a “really good idea.” It turns out it was about how to use hashtags and more to make social behavior part of our communications strategy.

Matt wanted to create an app that would allow GenderAvengers everywhere to create pie charts including hashtags to visually present the gender balance in any area of public dialog. Matt offered to shepherd the development of the app. He sprang into action, introducing me to Nate Matias from MIT’s Center for Civic Media. I googled Nate and discovered his impressive history of developing data science for gender equality, which made his agreement to become part of the team a driving force to move forward. Matt, Nate and I had numerous conference calls. I admit that 20% of the time they spoke in a language I didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter, because the richness of the remaining 80% was incredibly rewarding and informative. I was especially grateful to Nate who took on the initial coding when his wedding and honeymoon were just weeks away.

Knowing Nate’s schedule and the need for ongoing tech expertise, I called my pal and GenderAvenger Founding Team member, Yonatan Kogan, who was back in SF (where I am from) and working at Optimizely. Matt and Yonatan huddled and agreed that they could create a beta app for introduction at the upcoming Personal Democracy Forum Conference in NYC. We all liked the idea of launching it there, as Micah Sifry, co-founder of PDF, has for years worked hard — and succeeded — at increasing gender balance (this year overall it was 50/50!). How nice to be able to launch with charts accompanied by a smiling star rather than a black cloud — the graphic that appears when a chart shows an underrepresentation of women. (Time for a shout out to our webmaster, Elan Morgan, who stepped in to create the design elements.)

The team worked right up until Avengers Matt, Susan Askew and Nicco Mele, PDF attendees, started handing out stickers and business cards. (Matt’s title read, “Pie Chart Enthusiast”) with the app url. I think we were debating what to call it up to a half hour before it launched. So glad that Susan came up with GA Tally.

The GA Tally is still a work in progress. The team of Nate, Matt and Yonatan will continue to guide its development.

Now it is up to you to use the GenderAvenger Tally to let folks know about the importance of women always being part of the public dialog. When you see something — an ad for a conference, a list of authors in an anthology, a “top” list of “important people”, etc. — go to GenderAvenger Tally. You can make conversations happen that influence decisions about gender balance, and you may just start to see the changing ratios we all want!