Civicist: How Meetup Counters Algorithmic Sexism

Bias against women in the technology sector is still unfortunately pervasive. In a recent survey, only eight percent of female technologists said that they had never experienced gender bias in the workplace. The same study cited other problems in the sector with regards to women, including underrepresentation and a lack of networking opportunities and mentorship. These biases can make their way into the systems that increasingly shape our world, but the technology company Meetup has tried to design their recommendation system so that women are not pigeonholed or left out because of their gender. Read more…

Civicist: New Spill Tracker Enlists Crowd to Help Monitor Pollution After Hurricanes

After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, a nonprofit organization that uses satellite imagery to monitor the environment launched a tool for citizens to report pollution caused by flooding. Built on the crowdmapping platform Ushahidi, the Harvey Spill Tracker maps reports of oil, chemical, or hazardous waste spills and other incidents based on satellite images, eyewitness accounts, and National Response Center alerts. Later today the organization will release an updated version that expands the region covered to parts of the country impacted by Hurricane Irma. Read more…

Civicist: How Scientist-Activists Persuaded Their Peers to March

The March for Science in April was a coup for organizers: 600 marches around the world; an estimated 1.3 million marchers; and more than 300 organizational partners, from the Paleontological Society to the Center for Biological Diversity to the Consortium of Social Science Associations. But for one of the organizers, the biggest coup was finding the right messaging to unite a group of people and organizations famously allergic to the appearance of partiality. Read more…

Civicist: How the Crowd Could Help Keep Zinke Accountable

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke says he wants to be neighborly.

In late April, President Trump ordered the Department of the Interior to review the National Monuments created or enlarged by the Antiquities Act—27 National Monuments in all—with an eye to shrinking or even eliminating some of them. Shortly after, the Department announced that they would give Americans the opportunity to voice their opinion during a public comment period. In the press release Secretary Zinke said he wanted to be a “good neighbor” by “listening to the American people who we represent.”

More than 1.4 million comments poured in between May 11 and July 10, and now that the comment period is over, The Wilderness Society wants to ensure that Secretary Zinke follows through on his promise. The organization has asked their supporters to participate in a crowdsourced audit of the comments to see where Americans’ sentiments lie. The audit will also use machine learning to assess the remainder of the 1.4 million comments that volunteers can’t get to themselves. Read more…