Shelley Zalis Asks, “What is Your Female Quotient?”

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As the pioneer of online research and founder of OTX, Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient (TFQ) and creator of The Girls’ Lounge, comes from a data-driven research background. Zalis is also well known for creating corporate cultures that strive to achieve work/life balance and gender equality. TFQ is on a mission to move beyond conversations and collaborate with corporations to create solutions for change that advance equality in the workplace. We recently spoke about TFQ, programmatic advertising and more.

Charlene Weisler:  What exactly is TFQ and what specific impact do you hope to achieve with the initiative?

Shelley Zalis:  The Female Quotient is the first company that is bringing together the strongest advocates and best minds to develop and implement gender parity solutions.  Our initial focus for TFQ was The Girls’ Lounge. During CES in 2012 The Girls’ Lounge came about spontaneously when I asked my girlfriends to join me in Vegas and walk the show floor so I wouldn’t feel like the lone woman in a sea of businessmen. What started as a group of 50 friends banding together at a conference grew to 150 women walking the CES floor together. This heartbeat moment made me realize we were on to something bigger than ourselves, and I haven’t looked back since.  Now, in 2016, I see the need for a larger collaborative effort to achieve gender equality in the workplace, and TFQ combines community, collaboration, research and equality solutions under one large umbrella organization.

Charlene: What are some next steps that can be taken to move things forward?

Shelley: It is very important to me that we move beyond conversations and into action and collaboration to effect measurable change. I will be hosting a weekly segment on Bloomberg called Walk the talk which showcases companies that are embracing gender equality and realizing the benefits of a gender-balanced board, management team and organization. I would also like to launch a weekly column, Next Step Solutions, where we can bring women and men in the industry together to work on solving these issues. It is important that we bring men into the conversation. We say “femenism” with “men” in the middle because women and men working together is key to achieving success. 

Charlene: Can you tell me about Contexxt, which is part of your research initiative?

Shelley: I’ve always had a passion for creating new ways of doing things and then making them sticky. Believing that data can be messy and beautiful, the products in the Contexxt portfolio, which are all powered through curation of data sources and applied cultural analysis, are focused on providing advanced insights for business growth. By integrating multiple data sources, connecting the dots and contextualizing complex information, we are creating big data integration solutions for media buying and content optimization, as well as new metrics for advancing equality in the workplace today. We are passionate about what we do and constantly strive to conceive and develop new techniques that leverage our knowledge and innovative thinking to meet the evolving needs of our clients and the workforce. 

Charlene: What do you think programmatic advertising will look like in three to five years?

Shelley: In one word, "Big."  Programmatic will continue to grow in revenue and importance to advertisers as we continue to increase the level of consumer response-level data.  We will see these traditional programmatic data sets expand to include additional elements that will create compelling value for marketers -- elements such as reliability, efficiency, transparency and accountability to the media buying process. The good news is we will still need the human touch!

Shelley can be reached at @shelleyzalis or through her websites and

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