Gender Gap Grader API Enables Gender Data Revolution

A new tool is available to perform gender analysis on any large data set. Gender Gap Grader uses a databank of world names to analyze any data set by likely gender, taking into account regional differences that might mean that a name used in one part of the world is typically male, while in another region it's more likely to be female.

Elian Carsenat (left) and Elena Rossini (right) from Gender Gap Grader presenting at API Strategy & Practice/APIDays Berlin

“The conversation around gender is pretty much center stage,” co-founder Elena Rossini said in a presentation at API Strategy and Practice/APIDays in Berlin last week, “especially now with the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working together to spotlight gender equality with the #GenderDataRevolution initiative.” Rossini said she is inspired by one of Hillary Clinton’s remarks that "gender data does not just measure progress, it inspires it."

Gender Gap Grader provides an API toolkit based on the NamSor name recognition software. Believing that “APIs can be a powerful tool for social change,” co-founders Rossini and Elian Carsenat have created the API tools specifically to help analyze gender in large data sets, with a goal of publishing gender gap estimates in all industries at a granular level. Studies so far include one of airline pilots, which found that only 7% of the world’s pilot workforce is female.

“Names can be very complex,” said Carsenat. “Our mission is to support the gender data revolution by allowing any individual to run an analysis of names to see the ratio of men and women.”

Gender and racial inequality in the fast-growing, economic power engine of the tech sector has come under increasing scrutiny in the last six months, as many begin to ask why an emergent industry that encompasses new disciplines in mobile, data science and the cloud should be repeating the same power and inequality differences seen in more traditional labor markets.

Recent IT studies include a data science survey that found that women data scientists earn $13,000 less than their equivalent male counterparts, while interactive data published on The Wall Street Journal using the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics API shows that female Web developers earn 79.4% of what male Web developers earn, with female computer support specialists hardly faring any better, earning 79.8% what their male counterparts earn.

Rossini showed an angel investing study by Gender Gap Grader that analyzed data using the AngelList API and revealed that among the 650,000 names in the database, only 9% were women and that of the 19,000 angel investors, only 7.4% were women.

Gender gap analysis of AngelList from Gender Gap Grader

At the Berlin conference, Rossini and Carsenat also discussed preliminary findings of a study to be released in June that reveal that women account for between 13% and 33% of people who have their research published in the sciences.

Rossini pointed out that there is a “powerful economic case that when a company is more diverse, they are more profitable.”

Joelle Emerson, CEO and founder of Paradigm, is familiar with the gender gap tool and told ProgrammableWeb:

Analyzing the gender divide in big data sets enables us to see concretely how gender gaps play out in different contexts and can inspire people in positions of power to act. Marc Benioff's recent announcement that he is evaluating pay across Salesforce and giving raises to close existing pay gaps is a great example. (Outside the workplace context, FiveThirtyEight has done some interesting research.)

In the workplace alone, there are many areas beyond pay in which we can and should be analyzing gender-based disparities. On the internal side, we can look at promotion rates (are women being promoted at a slower rate than men?) and performance evaluation data, and on the hiring side, we can look at whether there are any gaps in the rate at which men and women pass through each stage of the recruiting process.

It's exciting to see a growing number of tech companies thinking about how they can use data to better identify and respond to gender gaps in their workforce.

4 Examples of How the Gender Gap Grader API Could Be Used

While the Gender Gap Grader website highlights a few large-scale studies of gender analysis, there is also a wealth of opportunities for using the Gender Gap Grader toolkit across business and government.

Here are four examples of how the tool could be used:

Reducing the Risk of Women Leaving the Tech Industry

Analyzing payroll differences and career trajectories can help tech companies identify inequalities that may prevent them from leveraging the benefits of having a diverse workforce with women in leadership positions.

"We support and encourage companies to analyze their payroll and bonuses for systemic gender inequities," Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, told ProgrammableWeb. "We also recommend analyzing career progression rates to see that on average women are being promoted at the same rate as male counterparts."

Percival added:

Data is showing that women are leaving their tech careers midcareer at a rate of 56%, and they are reporting feeling stalled in their careers at the same time their male counterparts are reporting their careers taking off. Analyzing for systemic inequalities can bring to light hidden biases and quickly reduce the exit rate of women from tech.

Analyzing Company Ownership by Gender in Specific Industries

The Gender Gap Grader could be used in conjunction with the OpenCorporates API to identify which industries have the most inequitable leadership and where women leaders are most recognized.

Reviewing Gender Differences Within a Large Corporation or Government Body

Last year, the city of Palo Alto, California, used Gender Gap Grader’s API along with other NamSor APIs in a RapidMiner integration tool to analyze the differences between male and female employees within the city authority. City authorities, corporations, government bodies and other enterprises could use the Gender Gap Grader toolkit to review their payrolls and management teams to analyze whether women are being paid equally to their male colleagues, and to measure the level of women in management positions within the organization.

Analyzing Economic Development Initiatives by Gender

Governments at all levels, investment funds and philanthropies all have funding programs available to support new economic development from microenterprise and seed funding to series level investments. These initiatives could apply the Gender Gap Grader to analyze whether they are distributing their funding disproportionately.

Developers can access an API toolkit, which includes a RapidMiner Starter Edition and NamSor APIs. An API key is not required to experiment with the tool, but developers can register for more professional plans with higher-volume processing. Professional-level toolkits also include diversity analytics by country, culture and ethnicity to enable additional equity analysis.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities.