Civic data to inspire: the Girl emPower iPad app

We’re proud to see GovTrack’s database put to use to by others to empower individuals. In this guest post, Andrew Cavanagh describes the iPad app he created with Laura Phelps called Girl emPower, which you can find on the Apple app store here. Thanks to Andrew and Laura for letting us share their story.

Civic data, such as the information gathered by GovTrack, becomes more and more powerful as an engagement tool as we get smarter at presenting the data in effective ways. The recently released Girl emPower iPad app does just that — it takes a complicated problem and uses data about members of Congress using the GovTrack API.

Women are starkly underrepresented in political office and many leadership positions, and research suggests that this is partly because girls and young women lack role models in these fields. The Girl emPower iPad app offers a solution to this problem by connecting girls with the women who have already paved the way.

The Girl emPower app was enthusiastically received by leaders in the women’s movement who gathered at the White House’s conference for the Equal Futures Challenge in late April. It was also featured by the White House for what it does to clearly connect young women with their leaders and engage them through the mediums they already use — Twitter, YouTube and tablet technology. The app lets girls use interactive maps to explore their congressional districts, learn about their representatives and follow the latest updates from women leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Remarkably, many of the female leaders have grown comfortable with these mediums for information dissemination too, making them a common ground for the women leaders trying to reach the constituents and the young girls who want to learn how to be just like them.

While it’s important that the women who work on solving inequality in leadership positions connect with the app, it’s most important to the developers that the girls actually want to use it as a tool. That’s why the developers were thrilled to learn that Girl emPower is going to be used in classrooms and included in summer camp and conference materials.

Girl emPower was selected from a myriad of submissions in the White House Equal Futures App Challenge by distinguished judges including: Jack Dorsey, creator and co-founder of Twitter and founder ad CEO of Square; Jocelyn Goldfein, director of engineering at Facebook; Andrew Shue, co-founder of and co-founder of; Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor; Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts; Judy Vredenburgh, president and CEO of Girls Inc.; Tiffany Dufu, president of the White House Project; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Senator Lisa Murkowski; Rep. Barbara Ballard; and Mayor Elizabeth Kautz.

President Obama said the White House Equal Futures App challenge was about creating apps that inspire young women to become leaders. “I want our daughters to imagine themselves as the next generation of leaders in our schools, our businesses, our communities, and in our government as well,” the president said. “As mayors, as governors, as senators and as presidents of the United States.”

To download the free iPad app from the Apple app store, click here:

The Girl emPower project would not have been possible without the great support of the GovTrack API, which powerfully organizes relevant information about America’s leaders. For questions, contact