Kate Rabinowitz had a pretty busy 2016, to say the least.
Her open data website, DataLensDC, gained momentum when Rabinowitz published a post about gender disparities among the Data Community DC meetup speaker lineups. She joined Tech Lady Hackathon as one of the three co-organizers. And she started her new site, We Speak Too, as a way of combatting the meetup speaker gender disparity in D.C.
She did that all while she worked full-time as an economist for the federal government. Now, in 2017, she’s said good-bye to her government job and said hello to data reporting full-time.
“I was feeling a little burned out,” Rabinowitz said. “I liked my job, but I love all of these things that I’m doing outside of my job.”
With her new free time, Rabinowitz wants to see Tech Lady Hackathon expand beyond just a one-day inclusive event. She hopes to work with a few other organizations aimed at social good to improve their data visualization and data translation skills (a few are already in the works with details coming later in the year), and while she’s at it, she wants to become a bigger advocate for open data.
And, of course, Rabinowitz has a list of data stories she’s hoping to dig into.
“I have this notebook, and it is a notebook of all the data stories that I want to do, and it’s grown over time,” she said. “It was becoming something like this notebook of guilt—just these ideas I would never get to—and now I can add to them, which is really exciting.”
But one project that she’s already taken on—well, more like oversaw and partnered with—was the expansion of her site We Speak Too into Austin, which launched earlier this week.
Whenever Rabinowitz travels, the Code for DC co-organizer likes to stop at other Code for America events in different cities. It’s a good way to make new friends, she said. So when she stopped through Austin the same week that We Speak Too launched, she shared the site with a few people and sparked some interest. Amalie Barras, an Austin-based user experience designer, was especially intrigued.
So she did her own data analysis of the tech meetup gender ratios in Austin to see if the site was worth it.
“Through secondary research, I found out that in terms of percentage of tech jobs filled by women, Austin, at 21 percent, is actually below the national average of 27 percent,” Barras told DC Inno. “As disappointing as that was, I learned that the proportion of meetup speakers in this sample who are women is even less than that at 16.3 percent.”
Rabinowitz and Barras immediately started looking at how they could redesign the site to include multiple cities and make it less D.C. centric. The final result launched earlier this week.
“I hope more women will add themselves to the speaker list, that organizers will refer to the list when planning their event calendars, that community members will share it with their organizers, and that leaders in other cities will use our framework to repeat this analysis, build on it, and create their own lists,” Barras said.
So also added bringing We Speak Too to more cities nationwide to the list of Rabinowitz’s goals.
Rabinowitz, like any other person who decides to turn a passion project into a full-time gig, is still a bit nervous about her transition. “I have found so much passion in this thing in the past year that it’s something that I have to try, and it very well could be that I can’t do this as a job and it’s not as interesting, and I don’t think that’s going to be a case,” she said.
But, ultimately, leaving her full-time job, the decision came down to one thing: community.
“I am not the first person doing the things that I’m doing,” Rabinowitz said. “There are a lot of people who have expertise with some adjacent field, so being able to so easily find a friendly network of people who are also really passionate about your thing has been crucial for me.”