Raffling Off a Better Path into STEM
Getting Started: Understanding the Experiences of Women in STEM
When thinking about women in STEM and the proverbial gap they face, there are several images that appear in my head. The first is, of course, my own experience, then I think about what I have heard from others, which were all together bad, but I rarely, willingly sought out an extensive account of what the larger population of women go through; mostly due to my sensitivity towards the topic. In this journey, I got to read a bit more about women and how they are trying to be a part of STEM, but are being hindered greatly by their male peers who refuse to treat them as equals and degrade them in various ways merely because of their gender. The very details of each article read added to my frustration, so I began to think of a way to better women’s experiences in STEM.
The idea of creating a website for bridging the gap between men and women in STEM was, at first, fairly doable. Initially, I thought just make a website to get women talking about their experience in STEM, basically whitelisting companies that are okay to work for. Unfortunately, the assignment’s added aspect of an auction-style website is what ultimately threw me off. How does one bring together the idea of the gender gap in STEM and auctioning?
I determined that by building up the female population in STEM and adding more female voices, the gap will close and even out the disparities. By providing an open and welcoming experience, women can see that STEM is a place for them, thus increasing the number of female representatives in STEM. So, the idea of providing STEM experiences or STEMperiences for women to gain positive experiences came to mind.
Of course, it would be difficult to hand everyone an opportunity, so raffling off opportunities funded by women-friendly companies looking to bolster their female population and gain publicity at the same time was my solution. Then I thought about those that are struggling and need a hand in STEM. So, I researched nonprofits supporting women and girls in this area. These nonprofits could benefit from the funds gained through these auctions. Taking this a step further, I created two categories, free entry and paid entry.
Free entry STEMperiences are fully funded by companies that allow women to gain entries for the raffle for free by liking and sharing on social media. Paid entry STEMperiences are directly connected to a specific charity partnered with a company, in which users donate to their fundraiser to gain entries. STEMperiences can range in a variety of offerings, including full expenses covered, internship-style training and onboarding.
Visualizing this idea took a bit of research. What do auction and raffle sites look like nowadays? What companies are women-friendly and have women leaders in the decision making? What are the available nonprofits out there in the world that are working on closing the gender gap in STEM? I searched around on google and collected a window full of tabs showing examples of auction sites, lists of women-friendly companies with top female leaders, and nonprofits that are active in this area. I took notes on what I liked and didn’t like on the auction sites, such as the sheer inaccessibility some are to people in lower income levels, even though some were fundraising for nonprofits. I found the simpler the website the better, with Omaze being the most appealing despite it being a bit too much like a template in some areas.
I then made a list of all the things I wanted to be in my prototype and the color scheme. I kept to the main pages people would visit, home, about, available experiences showcasing the two types of entries, past winners of experiences, and the login/signup page. I wanted to use colors that were meaningful, mainly yellow for opportunity and blue for STEM with other colors as accents in between.
Lastly, I needed a way to handle entries. I remembered when I used to enter sweepstakes there was a raffle plugin that many companies used. After searching back through my early college years obsession with Pinterest sweepstakes, I found Rafflecopter and the cheaper alternative, Rafflepress. I studied their formats and built an example of my own. Afterwards, I went to work putting it all together in Figma.
Although the beginning of the process had me pulling at my early greying hair while trying to complete the rest of my assignments, I somehow managed to get a few good things from it. Firstly, this can be really helpful to actually make in the future. Just thinking about the tears I had when hunting for opportunities as a Junior during my undergraduate, and in need of some form of internship or real world experience, having something like this would have been helpful. In addition, as I want to do design work for nonprofits in the future, this could be a good start. Overall, it was a painfully good experience and I am quite happy with my prototype. If I had more time, I would gladly take this a step forward.
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