Post 8: Brainstorming possibilities for a design response

By Patricia Roxas

During the tutorial in Week 6, we were finally able to synthesise weeks of research and develop a problem statement. We were asked to respond to a series of questions in relation to our issue, in terms of Who, What, When, Where and Why. I chose to answer the questions in relation to the pay gap as this is what I have been really interested in and focused on throughout my research.

Who does the problem affect?

  • Male/female employees
  • Young men and women seeking for jobs
  • Organisations

What are the boundaries of the problem?


  • ignorance or lack of care as they feel that it is not their issue


  • lack of confidence in ‘selling’ skills and negotiating raises and promotions
  • maternity leave/motherhood
  • career choice- choosing jobs that have lower pay


  •  lack of awareness due to salary transparency or lack of campaigns
  •  millennials are unaware of the pay gap because they are not affected by it and have never experienced it. They only become truly aware once they actually work
  •  belief that the pay gap doesn’t exist or is a myth
  •  gender stereotypes/unconscious bias

When does the problem occur?

  •  ongoing issue which demand actions particularly from young people as they have a unique position in creating change for today and future generation

Where is the problem occurring?

  • issue occurs around the world but I will be solely focusing on an Australian context
  •  the most recent statistic of the pay gap in Australia is ‘Australian women make 83¢ for every $1 a man’ (Khadem 2016)

Why is it important that the problem is fixed?

  •  Men and Women can live happier and healthier lives and free from gender stereotypes
  •  Equal workplace which leads to increased productivity and satisfaction levels from employees. Also, higher financial returns and innovation which in turn leads to an improved economy.

The initial problem statement that I developed during class was: ‘Men don’t care about the pay gap because they feel that is their issue and it affects them’. Although, I discovered that this problem statement was a bit problematic as it was solely focused on men and could be perceived as pointing fingers at men, when in fact the gender equality issue should be tackled by both genders simultaneously. The design possibilities that we brainstormed in class for this problem statement (see Post 9) was also limited and lacked scope therefore I decided to refine my initial problem statement.

In refining my problem statement, I shifted my focus from care to awareness and also to both genders. From my research, I have learnt that lack of awareness is most applicable to both genders between the ages of 18-25, particularly those who are just about to enter the workplace. For example, young men are oblivious to the pay gap or even believe that is a myth. Apart from men, there are also lots of young women in Australia who believe that gender equality is synonymous with same theoretical rights and are unaware of pay gap and glass ceiling until they have actually worked (Commonwealth Bank 2016). I can certainly attest to this as I had no knowledge of the pay gap prior to undertaking this research task. Thus, the problem statement that I concluded with was:

Young men and women lack awareness thus engagement in the issue of the pay gap because they are not affected by it and have never experienced it

As I brainstormed possible design solutions for this problem statement, I kept in mind 3 key points in terms of how to create awareness of the pay gap amongst young people. They are:
1. Visualising the pay gap in a compelling manner as opposed to statistical statements
2. Evoking a greater sense of empathy
3. Making them feel that the issue is real and continues to exist today

Possible Design Solutions:
1. Data visualisation + Participatory design: women and men take pictures and enter in their job on a touch screen platform nearby a large screen. The pictures are then displayed on the screen and categorised according to industries. Women’s pictures are cut out by a certain percentage depending on the pay gap relevant to their job.
2. Data visualisation: displays the tweets of women complaining about the pay gap in real time and a purely text based format. The tweets are displayed as lines of black text on a large screen situated in a public space except the adjectives which are highlighted or set in a different colour. This allows one to focus on the feelings of women and the effects that the pay gap has on women. Adding the quote ‘women who earn less than men were four times more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 2.5 times more likely to be depressed’ could help make people realise that the pay gap is a serious issue which deserves attention.
3. Service design: Pop-up store which offers food/products and charges men a few cents more than women. They are situated in various locations in Sydney particularly near universities to reach a large number of people.
4. Service design: Add-on that lets you view the salaries of female friends on Facebook (only if they have published it) and a comparison to male’s salaries in the same position as they appear on your daily feed.
5. Service design: Online platform which aims to prove that the pay gap is not a myth by allowing women to share their personal stories involving unequal pay, minimum wage or bias in the workplace.


Commonwealth Bank 2016, How do Millennials view gender equality in the workplace?, viewed 20 September 2016,  <>.

Khadem, N. 2016, ‘Australian women make 83¢ for every $1 a man earns: report’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March, viewed 20 September 2016, <>.