App encourages awareness of female representation in various industries
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Gender Avenger, an online group created in 2013 to raise awareness of disparities, developed an app that tracked the genders of panelists at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival.
The Gender Avenger app has been used to keep track of the total number of female presenters at events compared to male presenters. The app then tallies numbers and releases a pie chart that can be shared on social media. Some better known uses of the of the app included showing the numbers of women nominated for non-acting awards at this year’s Academy Awards (35 women, 149 men).
SXSW, which this year ran from March 13 to 22, annually hosts panels with active members of the music, film, and “interactive” communities—the latter of which focusses on technology, video games, and networking, amongst other fields.
In 2013, SXSW introduced an initiative to see more women speakers at events, updating their policy of inclusion with the statement, “There are thousands of extremely qualified women in the media industry. If you are organizing a session with at least three total speakers, then at least one of these speakers must be female.”
For 2015, the SXSW-specific Gender Avenger app saw attendees report the numbers of presenters at specific panels. The idea behind reporting this year’s numbers was to indicate whether or not SXSW was actually including more women speakers across various panels, or if there were just more panels that raised of awareness of gender-related issues.
The Gender Avenger website has a “hall of fame and shame” page which tracks which events and lists show gender diversity and which do not. One of this year’s SXSW panels, titled “2030 Now: Innovations for the World We Want,” met Gender Avenger’s “hall of fame” with a gender ratio of four women to five men. The panel in question was hosted by members of the UN, and focussed on how the group plans to tackle major global crises in the coming years.
A recent prominent example of Gender Avenger’s “hall of shame” category, updated on March 12, focussed on the New Yorker’s 90th anniversary issue, which featured 19 cartoons—a staple of the iconic magazine—none of which were created by women.
Gender Avenger was founded by Gina Glantz, a political campaign manager who’s represented, amongst other politicians, Al Gore. Glantz spoke out about the issue of gender disparity in an August 2013 article for the Huffington Post, and how she planned to take on the issue, writing, “Everywhere possible when women are unrepresented or underrepresented, an ‘avenger’ will take note, take action, or ask someone else to take action.”