By Natalie Borghi
With weeks and weeks of research into workplace gender equality within Australia, it’s become increasingly more evident just how complex the issue is. Through this week’s task we once again collaboratively brainstormed our issue with others researching the same issue. Our main objective however, unlike previous maps, was to brainstorm potential design proposals to address our issue.
We outlined five key questions which helped to develop a potential idea:
Who | What | When | Where | Why
1. Who does the problem affect?
The main stakeholders within the issue are female and male employees and employers in the Australian workforce. This particularly covers women currently in the workforce, seeking higher positions, as well as younger employees, who would like extra guidance with their career path.
2. What are the main boundaries of the problem?
The main boundaries include:
- Gender stereotypes; Traditionally, men were expected to be leaders, whilst women worked in lower positions.
- The “Glass Ceiling”: In many fields of work, statistics have shown female employees generally reaching a certain employment level and not advancing to higher roles.
- Disproportionate presence of males and females in certain workforces; male and female dominant work fields. E.g. women in teaching and nursing, and men in engineering and firefighting
- Lack of female role models for younger women to look up to
- The way the media portrays female employees
- Some women under selling their skills, and a lack of confidence
3. When does the issue occur?
The issue occurs predominantly when women are striving for higher work positions, or when younger women are planning out their career goals.
4. Where the problem occurs
From research, the problem is a global issue, however in the context of my study, it predominantly occurs in the Australian workforce.
5. Why is the issue important, and why does it need to be fixed?
This issue is important because it’s affecting the gender balance of employees in Australian workplaces. It’s affecting current and future female employee’s decisions about where they want to work, and their career goals. Despite various workplaces pushing for more female employees and CEOs, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve complete workplace gender equality.
The problem needs to be fixed in order to tackle gender stereotypes, and perceptions of women as workers. If an employee is capable of doing a job, gender should not act as a barrier. It will also help to boost the confidence of female employees who need it, so they can feel encouraged and cared for by their workplace.
Narrowing Down My Issue to a Design Statement
Over the past weeks I’ve found it difficult narrowing down my issue to one main focus. I started looking at the gender pay gap, and the glass ceiling and how the two correlate. I found these to be very broad, so I was interested in digging deeper into the problem. I came across a few articles which mentioned how choices of work field, and confidence of females are affecting factors, which caught my attention. As confidence instability is something I can relate to, I decided it would be interesting to look further into how the confidence of female employees affects their job choices, and in turn, the glass ceiling and pay gap.
I came across a quote which stated, “Women don’t feel supported by management and they have a hard time fitting into stereotypes of success within the company”
(Mitchell, L. 2016)
Despite being very generalised, it further pushed the point that gender equality isn’t a “woman’s issue.” I believe the focus should be on organisations changing their views so they can become more accommodating of female employees.
“Gender stereotypes within the Australian workplace often prevent female employees from advancing in career goals of higher work positions.” (Note: This is variable)
Brainstormed proposal ideas:
My design proposal would be aimed at creating awareness within 18-24 year old females, and preparing them for entering their desired fields of work. Through collaborative brainstorming, the following is a list of five potential design ideas.
1. Information or Career days for females who need support planning out their career goals, or needing advice
2. Face-to-face mentoring of younger women by older/more experienced women or men in the same industry
3. Career help line App: An app which allows users to find and talk to employees in senior roles from their desired field.
4. Female-focused job searching app or forum. Companies specifically looking for female employees, such as male-dominated fields, can sign up to the app. Female users can then apply to the companies which are signed up
5. Recruitment campaigns for female employees within a range of fields. For example, the ACT Fire and Rescue promoted a female recruitment campaign and received a 500% increase in female applicants (Reinfrank, A. 2016)
Through my research, I’ve been particularly interested in the idea of mentoring younger employees. As the target audience is 18-25 years olds, I’d be creating a design proposal for individuals who are either still studying, looking for a job in their desired field, or currently in the workplace.
As mentoring already exists as an effective solution within multiple workplaces (including engineering, teaching and trade work), I’d be interested in proposing an idea which still provides a some sort of mentoring, however the individual does not have to be working or affiliated with a specific workplace. By encouraging and supporting females from earlier in their career, it’ll hopefully build a stronger foundation for later on, and support their career goals.
As per my third brainstormed idea, I’d be interested in producing a service design in the form of an app. Female users, would be able to find senior employees from their desired fields, and ask any career-related questions or express any concerns they have. These employees can be female or male, and can be from any work field. Multiple reports have suggested a range of male and female mentors is an effective idea, as it promotes a diverse range of knowledge and demonstrates the point of gender equality; men and women helping each other out.
They can sign up to the app as mentors, providing useful information or just bits of advice for any user who needs it. The user can choose their desired field from a list, and then follow steps to finding an appropriate mentor.
When the senior employee signs up to the app, they can name which company they work for, which will promote that particular company as being “pro-gender equality.” This, in turn, will not only be providing useful information to young female employees, but also a list of companies which support gender equality. It would help to positively affect female employees as well as Australian workplaces.
The app could be discovered through a selection of touch points. These could include word of mouth, advertising posters around educational institutions, advertising by companies who have their employees signed up to the app.
Reinfrank, A. 2016, ACT Fire & Rescue Places Landmark 50 per cent Quota on Female Recruits, ABC, viewed 15 Sep 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-23/500-pc-increase-in-number-of-female-firefighter-applicants/7194058>
Mitchell, L. 2016, Busting the myth that women are missing the extra confidence chromosome, Women’s Agenda, viewed 17 August 2016, <http://www.womensagenda.com.au/career-agenda/lessons-learned/item/6719-busting-the-myth-that-women-are-missing-the-extra-confidence-chromosome>