Tuesday March 01, 2016

EquiTable app splits the bill fairly, bridging the wage gap in the process

An example of the EquiTable's "affirmative fraction" algorithm at work.

An example of the EquiTable's "affirmative fraction" algorithm at work. (EquiTableApp.com)

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"Reparations one meal at a time." That's the concept behind a new app called EquiTable.

If friends are dining out together and the server brings the bill, someone has the delicate task of figuring out who should pay what. Not anymore. There's an app for that.

Luna Malbroux

Comedian Luna Malbroux is the creator and Chief Equality Officer of the EquiTable app. (Luna Malbroux)

"We use an algorithm we like to call 'affirmative fractions,'" Luna Malbroux tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "What it does, basically, is calculate what people should owe based on the percentage of the US dollar they earn."

Luna Malbroux is a comedian and the chief equality officer of EquiTable. According to their website, the app,"helps you avoid the entrenched discrimination that exists in our society — it doesn't split the bill equally, it splits it equitably."

EquiTable app


"You individually put in someone's race and someone's gender," Malbroux explains. "We only use those two things because those are the things that the Bureau of Labour Statistics are measuring."

Back in January, she pitched the app at Cultivated Wit's 2016 Comedy Hack Day. The event brings comedians and tech developers together to brainstorm. She won the competition.

"There's a lot of talk about the gender wage gap," Malbroux explains. "There's still, somehow, a debate about that and I thought an app that calculated based on the US dollar would be a really great way to demonstrate the inequity that happens when it comes to pay."

As you enter your contacts, the app will calculate the diversity level of your table under different categories: "college brochure," "tech start-up," "Oscars 2016," etc.

A protest feature allows users to challenge the calculation with a variety of excuses. The app will then provide statistics to counter the protest.

"We used a lot of actual excuses that we heard and saw in the news, such as 'I'm aware of my privilege' or 'this isn't an issue anymore,'" Malbroux says. "For all those people who are naysayers and are really angry about it, we comically address them within the app."