Press for Progress - Our Design Hack for International Women's Day

By Clare Reucroft | 09/03/2018

Following the success of our 2017 Design Challenge for International Women's Day, we partnered up with Macclesfield College and SHIFT again on Thursday 8th March, to help students consider ways of tackling deep-rooted social issues and encourage positive change regarding gender equality. 

As with last year, the students shared their thoughts on current issues facing women today and we helped them to understand the purpose of a design hack – essentially, an event where people come together to understand a certain problem and come up with ideas on how they might make things better. We started the day by highlighting just some of the problems that we feel make International Women's Day an important annual event:

  • There are 1.75 billion women in the workforce
  • 300k work in tech across North  of England - only 17% are women
  • Annual pay for women now equals men’s salaries from a decade ago
  • There are 96 Justices of the High Court  - 76 male and 21 female

We split the group up into three teams and gave them the following problem statements to choose from:

  1. Children’s clothes are frequently marketed as girl clothes and boy clothes, often using stereotypes around expected likes and behaviours
  2. Sexual harassment or violence against women occurs at home, schools, universities and workplaces, which is a growing concern for girls
  3. Women playing sport do not get the same coverage or recognition as men, which affects attitudes, salaries and the choices girls make.

The only constraint for the day was that the students had to involve digital engagement and consider how their solutions would be achievable and implementable.

However, addressing these issues is no easy task and so to help the students along, we ran a couple of exercises to facilitate generating as many ideas as possible. As an example, we had the students draw multiple sketches of a coffee cup, to illustrate the process of creative thinking and how to unlock new ideas. 

Students working around a table


After lunch, we encouraged the teams, with the support of their teacher, Rachael Carney, to pick one of their ideas to take forward and develop further. There were three prizes handed out to the teams at the end of the day.

The outcome

The team addressing Problem 1 were given the award for the most creative idea – they proposed holding an exhibition on clothes, incorporating a virtual reality app featuring interviews with well-known figures, talking about what they wear and why they wear it. The idea was based on using role models across sport, TV, film and music, some of whom who may be known for their clothing choice, talking about what clothes mean to them.

Problem 2’s team were given the prize for the most implementable idea. They suggested a children’s TV show, which would encourage good manners and teach children the difference between right and wrong. This would build on the social media campaigns and anti-bullying charities that exist for older children but the TV show would be aimed at younger children, to make them think about gender-based bullying and stereotypes from a young age.

Lastly, the prize for the most developed idea went to the team tackling Problem 3, who came up with the idea to run a nationwide “Get Involved” day, using a website and an app to promote the day and encourage participation in physical activities. They really explored stereotypes and access to  different sports, recognising that class, background and wealth also affect the sporting options young people have. 

Students showing their sketches and design ideas

We really enjoyed hosting this design hack day again and we were pleased to see this year’s students getting stuck into the problems and coming up with some great ideas. They demonstrated great teamwork and were incredibly cognisant of the myriad of issues regarding gender inequality. Here’s to next year’s hack!