Tally lets event attendees and media consumers call out the all-too-frequently terrible gender ratios on panels and in Who’s Who lists. We took an existing social practice, where feminists take and share photos of panels with awful gender ratios, and built software to support it.

Tally’s a very simple app: You just enter where you are (or what you’re reading), and the number of men and women represented in this particular slice of the public dialog. The tool generates a representative pie chart graphic for you to share with others, send to the organizers, or just document. Positive ratios are adorned with a happy star, and negative ratios earn a storm cloud.

Tally was featured by MSNBC and has been used at countless conferences — often by the organizers themselves.

An evenly divided pie chart of male and female speakers at TEDx Albany

The app can be used to pressure organizers of unbalanced events, or to praise well-balanced ratios, which we were able to do in our launch at the perfectly balanced Personal Democracy Forum organized by Micah Sifry and Andrew Raisej. (We hit PDF in street team formation, with Nicco Mele giving out promotional stickers like candy).


I came up with the concept for Tally to assist the great work of Gina Glantz. In addition to being Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign manager and a top lieutenant at the SEIU, Gina was one of my first clients at EchoDitto, where we got to work on SinceSlicedBread together. She profiled Tally over at GenderAvenger, the organization she’s launched to advocate for an equitable female voice in public dialog.

Nate Matias and I were the first two Media Lab students accepted into Ethan Zuckerman‘s Center for Civic Media, and have developed a bond forged under the pressures of the institution’s firehose of information and opportunity. This has been our first direct collaboration in a while, though, and it’s always insane to see how quickly and thoroughly Nate works. Yonatan Kogan and I met as a result of this project, but I’ve respected Optimize.ly as long as I’ve known about it, and seeing how Yonatan works makes me realize how lucky they are to have engineers like him.