Chelsea Clinton Wants to Use Data to Change the World

She might be the former (and possibly future) First Daughter of the United States, but Chelsea Clinton has grown up and is casting her gaze beyond only our own county. In a presentation alongside Ben Fry, principal of Fathom Info Design, at Internet Week on Thursday, she described the work that the Clinton Foundation has recently undertaken to study the progress of girls and women throughout the world. In particular, in 1995 at a conference in Beijing, Hillary Clinton made a historical statement about how women’s rights are human rights. As we approach the twentieth anniversary of that statement, the Clinton Foundation is studying where women were in 1995 versus where they are now.

“We wanted to see where there was progress, where we stood still, and where gaps remained,” Chelsea Clinton said. “I was interested in where the data gaps were around the world and what data insights we could glean … We’re deeply committed to ensuring that this report will not just sit on the proverbial shelf somewhere but that it be a living, breathing accessible platform.” The Clinton Foundation has founded to visualize this data, she said, to encourage regular people to interact with the findings by making it interactive and online.

Not only is NoCeilings an online cache of data, but it is an interactive, clickable repository where users can drill down on a topic, view data by country, compare multiple factors, and so on. It even is moving to mobile, Fry said because they found that half of users were using the product on their mobile devices. “One of my favorite charts is of math scores and standardized test scores for school-aged men and women,” Fry said, “to compare them in terms of ability demonstrated at 18 compared to where they end up in jobs and university majors.” In addition to standardizing the data to make it more malleable, NoCeilings has made it accessible online, including on GitHub, in the hopes that other people can build innovations using this data.

The data doesn’t just cover developing countries, either. “There’s still a lot to be done in our own country,” Clinton said, noting that the solutions to big global problems like child marriage or sexual abuse weren’t inherent in the research, but that simply uncovering the facts could go a long way toward inspiring and aiding the next wave of solutions to empower all of us for the future.