Recruiting Geeks for Human Rights!

Scientist / Data Analysis Engineer / General Techie

Want to help save the world with your code? Like going to hackathons and wish you could get paid to work on a good cause full time? Want to help assemble evidence used to convict dictators of war crimes? We're Benetech's Human Rights Data Analysis Group, and we're hiring right now!

What we do:

Benetech's Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) develops database software, data collection strategies, and statistical techniques to measure human rights atrocities. This technology and analysis is used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations around the world.

We help the human rights movement speak truth to power, because we believe each story of human rights abuse is a tool for justice.

Check out recent press coverage of our work, featuring the head of our human rights team, Dr. Patrick Ball, in Foreign Policy magazine and NPR's On The Media.

What you will do:

  • Write computer programs for human rights data analysis projects.
  • Process, clean, and transform data.
  • Run data standardization and de-duplication.
  • Write and run statistical analysis in R, including survey estimation, geospatial analysis, and general linear model fitting.
  • Maintain and develop our data deduplication (entity resolution) framework written in python and Java.
  • Write and run web crawlers and scrapers for data collection.
  • Data archeology: recover data from ancient files in odd formats. We use free and open source software whenever possible, but we're pragmatic and work with what our human rights monitoring and advocacy partners need, so our environment is a pretty eclectic mix.
  • Design and implement data visualizations, including everything from simple static charts and maps to custom interactive visualizations on the web. Familiarity with python, R, and JavaScript libraries for charting, mapping, and vis is helpful.
  • Maintain and develop our team's automated data processing and analysis infrastructure (POSIX-environment command line tools built on bash, make, python, and R).
  • Maintain and develop our team's internal groupware websites: a MoinMoin wiki, a rietveld code review deployment, and several small custom sites built on Django.
  • Teach good programming practice and provide general programming and tech support (everything beyond basic IT stuff) to the rest of the team, who are experts in statistics and social science with varying degrees of techiness. Perform a little bit of GNU/Linux system administration.
  • Write technical descriptions of HRP methods and projects at many levels of detail for academic publications, white papers, grant applications, grant reports, and internal documentation. Automate generation of publications based on data using LaTeX and Sweave. Give technical and non-technical presentations of HRP projects at conferences.
  • Coordinate analysis and writing work with human rights monitoring and advocacy organizations, academic collaborators, and courts throughout the world.
You will work at Benetech's Palo Alto office; some domestic and international travel may be required.


  • Bachelor's or Master's degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or related field.
  • High level of attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and ability to balance/manage multiple simultaneous tasks on your own.
  • If hired, ability to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

Small to medium scale programming, with an emphasis on readability and maintainability. Experience or interest in:

  • Qualitative text mining & analysis. Distributed and parallel algorithms, machine learning, computer security & crypto, data visualization, web programming, and statistics.
  • Strong interest or experience with our main tools: Python and R.
  • Interest or experience with other technologies we use, including Java, LaTeX, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, bash scripting, make, SWeave, BibTex, Weka, svn, Django, and xml processing.
  • Interest or experience with unicode, unusual character encodings, and handling non-latin character sets.
Also helpful:
  • Interest in and comfort with languages other than English, especially Spanish, French, Russian, or Arabic. Knowledge of or fluency in other languages is *not* necessary, but in your CV/resume, please note your level of skill (reading/writing/speaking) in any languages other than English.
How to apply:

Send a cover letter, a CV/resume, and a description of an interesting piece of software you've written to Please include the position descriptor HRP-CS in the subject line. Please use open file formats (PDF is fine). In the cover letter, please explain what interests you about the Benetech Human Rights Program. We are especially interested to hear comments on our work (available on Tell us how you would strengthen our team, and the global cause of human rights.


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