Identified Project in an Emerging Issue
The Workplace and Gender Equality Agency is an Australian Government statutory division created as one of the enforcers of the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
They work collaboratively with employers to further the cause of equal representation of men and women in the workplace. In their collaborations they provide advice, education and tools to help employers achieve positive gender equity goals. The Data Explorer (WGEA 2015) tool has been created for this purpose, it is an entry point for the public to explore the agencies data more clearly and in detail. It provides overviews of industries by gender pay equity and workforce comparison, and allows the user to explore data across a range of topics in the majority of industries. The Data Explorer also enables the user to specifically compose role and employee types in order to get a more specific result of gender pay gaps. It additionally shows comparison to prior years and how strategies and actions towards gender equality affects this data.
Datasets traditionally face the issue of lack of accessibility and lack of impact due to difficulty in synthetising and processing its complexity. What the data explorer effectively achieves is simplified and visual access to statistics. This takes an issue that is often dehumanised by numbers and brings it into the clear light of day by giving all users simple access to the explorer.
WGEA also encourages employers and employees to use the social media tag #MyEqualityStat to share the statistics uncovered using the explorer. Once again this is a clever way to raise awareness through simple and social digital tools.
The Data Explorer was built and designed by Flink Labs (2015), which is a design agency specialising in data mining and visualisation. Their work revolves around solving problems by designing and creating interactive data visualisations, that in the end provoke conversations and enhance understanding and engagement in the subject. They achieve this through simple and beautiful presentations of complex data in a format that allows both exploration and understanding regardless of analytical ability. Flink Labs collaborates with various different clients, with many projects focusing on the processing and presentation of economic data relevant to peoples everyday lives.
The Data Explorer is an excellent example of a growing area of design where data visualisation is used to communicate a message that otherwise would have been lost in the depths of complex numerical representations. Global leaders in the media space such as the New York Times have adopted data visualisation as a key tool of communication and designers continually improve the visual representation of this information to provide users with an engaging and informative experience (New York Times 2015).
The self service nature of the visualisation tool also plays an important role, where traditional written journalism requires writers to communicate a single point to readers data visualisation acts as a choose your own journey style of communication. This leaves users with access to the most relevant and interesting data to them, rather than simplified and generic information.
Data journalism and visualisation represents a growing amalgamation of the fields of journalism and design. Both rely on the basic concept of conveying meaning to people, with one achieving this through words and the other through images and interactive visual elements. In this particular example data journalism has a significant advantage over traditional written articles, particularly in a situation like this where the issue is often considered a contentious one. Visualisation presents statistics in self service fashion without bias or perspective, this allows conclusions to be drawn by the viewer on their own merit rather than under the influence of the opinion of the author, which has been seen throughout some of my other research in this area.
we see this data explorer as excellent example of the growing practice of data visualisation and data journalism in design. The use of interactive visual design to represent complex datasets to users in a simple and easily digestible form. In this case this visualisation is used to shine a light on the stark nature of gender inequality in the workplace in Australia. Often a hotly debated issue in the media this tool allows users to draw their own conclusions from the queries they put into the tool. As a result the tool is able to draw focus to an issue that is often misrepresented or lost in complex historical records and statistics.