Since women and people of color make less money than white men, is it fair that we split bills evenly? The creators of the upcoming app Equipay didn't think so, so they came up with a new means to split the bill: Based on how much each person at the table makes. The app started off as a joke that won Comedy Hack Day in San Francisco last weekend, but comic and diversity trainer Luna Malbroux, one of the project's collaborators, tells Bustle over the phone that the team plans to finish it and put it out on the app store next month — so you may be able to pay for group dinners more equitably very soon.
Equipay is based on Bureau of Labor statistics on gender and racial pay inequality, which show that women's full-time wage earnings were 83 percent as high as men's in 2014 and that blacks and Hispanics had the lowest wages regardless of gender. "Being a black woman, I find it interesting that a lot of comics comment on 78 cents to a dollar, but that's different for women of color," Malbroux said. "I thought an interesting way of playing around with technology was to explore how those things are in effect specifically with the race wage gap."
So, users enter the amount that needs to be paid along with the gender and race of each participant. As Equipay performs its calculations, the screen facetiously reads, "I hope you stay friends after this." Then, it provides a breakdown of how much each person should fairly pay.
"We've come up with some really complex algorithms that take into account history... just history. We call it affirmative fractions," Malbroux joked in her presentation of the app at Comedy Hack Day, which you can watch in the video below.
As a joke, users who have to pay more than they'd like can "protest" by selecting one of several different excuses, including "I'm conventionally unattractive," "I pulled myself up from my bootstraps," and "I spent $400 on improv classes."
Unfortunately for that person, though, the screen then tells them, "Good for you! But you're still paying up" — unless their excuse is, Tthis isn't an issue anymore." Then, they get a longer explanation.
"First of all, let me explain a few things, boo," the dialog starts off. Then, it cites the statistics the calculations are based on: Women make 78 percent of what men make (which is based on 2013 Census Bureau data), and that number is 64 percent for black women and 56 for Latinas. "Did you think about rates of employment?" it asks. "Look at the lack of diversity in tech."
The joke goes even further. To make fun of people who are socially conscious just to, well, appear socially conscious, there's a "share" feature.
"You may be thinking to yourself, I don't hang out with a diverse group of friends. We've thought of that," Malbroux added in the presentation. If it turns out all the people splitting the bill are white men, the app imposes a surcharge for "reparations one meal at a time." She tells Bustle that it won't actually charge you, but it will suggest places where you can donate the money.
"I think that everyone should be thinking a little bit more about how different intersectionalities of a person's identity affect how they experience life on a daily basis," she says.
The Equipay app is coming to iOS soon, so get ready to give back to your community — or get back, depending on who you are.