Age + Gender Tally

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The Age + Gender Tally is a method for recording how many people move through or stay in a public space at specific times, along with estimations of their age and gender. This data gives us a better sense of who is using a particular space, who does not feel welcome to do so, or who is unable to access it at all.

For example, community design researchers from Archeworks and Latent Design used the Age + Gender Tally to investigate a veterans memorial plaza in Chicago. They initially found that a handful of men occupy the plaza throughout the day, but very few women do. In fact, they observed an average of 25 women walking through the space each hour, but an average of only one woman choosing to stop and sit. The team wondered: what design and programming elements might make the space more inviting for all? It found that a concert series, along with the addition of low-cost seating, was effective in attracting over 100 women to spend time in the plaza without displacing the handful of men who regularly spend time there. Ultimately, while activated, the gender makeup of the plaza was evenly split between women and men. The research team used this information to craft a series of principles for enriching the public life of other plazas throughout the city.

To use this tool, you will stand in a location where people are moving by, staying still, or engaging in an activity. You imagine a line on the ground approximately 10-15 feet long in front of you and tally the pedestrians who cross over it. As they do, estimate which age and gender category each person is likely a part of.

If you plan on presenting your data externally, it’s important to make clear that this is observational data that will not always accurately reflect the gender identities of people in a space. We recommend Participant Surveys, in which users can report their own gender identity, to gain a more nuanced picture of gender diversity at your research site.

Don’t forget: print this tool double-sided! It is meant to be folded into a booklet.

Our public life tools are free for all to download, use, and remix to meet your project’s needs. If you use this tool, we would love to hear from you!