Social Awareness Project

Interaction Design / Graphic Design


By using visual impact to stimulate males to be aware of and contemplate the social problem of gender wage gap.


To stimulate males to be aware of the social awareness problem of the gender wage gap, I designed a series of posters and a public interactive installation which would be placed in the bus station. This is a coursework that combined interaction design and graphic design. Only public activity or physical installation are allowed for the interaction part.

According to Lean In and Survey monkey, one in three U.S. Adults aren’t aware of the pay gap — and men are almost twice as likely as women to think it doesn’t exist. Based on the research result above, ideations focus on “how to express this problem” and “how to stimulate audiences”.  A total of 16 interaction design part ideations are sent to the possible audience and let them score each ideation by their visual impact, involvement, creativity, connection to the topic, the ability to lead further thinking, the ability of exhibition tours in future, and whether it fits the environment. The one with the highest score was picked as the final solution, which is a public interactive installation game. The installation combines visual impact and humanistic concern by using a collection game and stylistic visual design to involve audiences.  

Graphic designer, User experience designer, Prototyper, Interaction Designer, Visual designer

ARTD 333

Mar, 2018 - Apr, 2018 

X-mind, imovie, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects 



Equal Pay Act announced in 1963, but experts predict and warn that if we do not put more effort into the issue, the gender wage gap would not be closed until 2059. The gender wage gap has a negative influence on all regardless gender or race. In U.S. women are earning 20% less than men. However, there are still many people do not aware of gender wage gap.

“..according to new research by Lean In and SurveyMonkey,
one in three U.S. Adults aren’t aware of the pay gap..”

This unawareness burdens any effort that are put to solve this problem, because it is hard to fight a problem you do not know is exist. In order to close the gender wage gap, we have to close the awareness gap first.

Project Timeline

The time to finish this project is limited to about one month. Therefore, it is really important to plan my time ahead of the due date. I divided my project into three phases, which are research, ideation, and final idea polishing progress. 



The research goal is to identify whether the gender wage gap is a severe social problem and which group of people would be the most lack of awareness and why.

This is a course project and the time of this project is limited to one month. Therefore, the research part could only take about one week. The research methods I used included media scan and literature reviews.

Based on the research, I found out males usually do not face this unfairness in real life and they tend to not want to admit that they are benefitting from this social phenomenon, so males are more likely to be lack of awareness.

Media scan

In order to find out who are not aware of the existence of the gender wage gap and the reason behind the phenomenon, I conducted this media scan.

“ One in three Americans is not aware of the gender pay
gap––and men are almost twice as likely as women to
think it does not exist.”

-The American Association of University Women 

In 2018 Money census report from Ellevest, a survey data in a women’s investing firm shows that 83% of women believe there are gender wage gaps when men and women work at the same position and perform the same duty, while only 61% of men agreed. Males tend to not aware of the gender wage gaps because they are usually not the person facing this unfair situation.

According to CNN business news, Ariane Hegewisch, who is a study director at the Institute for women’s policy research, says the reason why males do not believe in gender wage gap might because they do not want to believe they are benefiting from this unfairness. When males are told there is the gender wage gap in their workspace, they often choose to escape or make excuses.


1. At this point, I decided the target audiences of my design are males. 
2. Males usually do not face this unfairness in real life, it would be helpful to give them a chance to put themselves
in the female’s shoes.

Literature review

According to the literature review, common topics and questions in the gender wage gap are exposed.

  • The gender wage gap is varied depends on the demographic or geographic. Geographically, the states like New York has a larger earning ratio, which is about 89%. On the other hand, Louisiana and Utah’s earning ratio is about 70%. This result shows us the more modern a city is the more likely for it to have a smaller gender wage gap. (AAUW, Spring 2018 edition) 

  • Today, more and more people think the gender wage gap is closed. It is true that the gender wage gap is narrowing, but in past decades the gender pay gap has changed a little. According to The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations, since 1980 the gender wage gap has been narrowed greatly because conventional human-capital variables like education and labor market experience have improved a lot for women. According to the Pew Research Center, the remaining gap has been steady for the past fifteen years. Stereotypes, gender role in society and discrimination in the workplace still exist. However, 54% of Republicans think the government has given women equal rights with men and they do not need to keep track to the gender wage gap, while only 26% think the U.S. needs more effort towards this issue. Thus, unawareness has replaced conventional human-capital variables in becoming the new burden of the closing gender wage gap.

The Pew Research Center

The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations


1.  To stimulate people to start awaring of the gender wage gap is one of the keys to speed up
the closure progress of the gender wage gap.



In order to understand the university student drivers and potential users, I did three personas, which allow me to design with a great relevance.



In order to investigate more possibilities in the interaction parts, I did the ideations by using different methods of design. The ones in green are using graphic design, the ones in blue are public interactive installation game design, the ones in brown color are video design, while the ones in yellow are more of artistic installation or abstract art. 

[G1]A poster in a public space.
The image identify woman and man work the same but they cannot get equal pay.

[G2]A new design of the back side of airplane

[G3]A new design of the toilet icon.

[G4]A poster in a public space.
It suppose to be post on a cylinder. The image identify a life cycle of a female.

[B1]A public interactive game. Two player can walk on the treadmill. The path is all the same. To win the game, you need to get more coins. Player1 imply man, who can get 1 for 1 coin. While player 2 imply woman, who only get 0.8 for 1 coin.

[B2]A public interactive game. Two player can play under a bus stop. To win the game, you need to get more coins.
Player1 imply man. This side of screen drops paper money. While player 2 imply woman. This side of screen only drop coins.

[B3]A public interactive game. Two player can drag the money at the same time. So they will see who gets more.

[B4]A public interactive game. To win the game, you need to get more coins. Player1 imply man, who can get 1 for 1 coin.
While player 2 imply woman, who only get 0.8 for 1 coin.

[O1]Video thataudience can see the life of the two characters.

[O2]Video that  audience can see the life of the two characters by showing only their shoes.
[O3]Interaction video tha audience can make decisions for the characters in the video.

[Y1]Suppose to put in a public space, maybe a park. People can walk on there to feel the difference.

[Y2]Public artistic piece.
 [Y3]Public artstic piece.
[Y4]Public artistic piece.

[Y5]Public artistic piece. Man with a whole bust, while woman  with parcial broken.

Ideation Evaluations

I conducted an evaluation form of ideations and gave it to three possible audiences to score each of the ideations by its visual impact, involvement, creativity, connection to the topic, ability of leading further thinking, ability of exhibition tours in future, and whether it fits the environment, to find out the best one.

Insights 1:
According to the evaluation forms and feedback, users tend to like the design that will not take too long to look at. Video playing in the public may take too long to watch, thus if the video is too long or needs to be watched entirely to make sense might not fit in the context. Although the games also seem to take a long time, you can start it whenever you want which is much more flexable.
Improvements 1:
The videos are likely to take more than one minute, which might take too long and users might not want to stay there to watch it till the end. So, I decide not to use videos as the final concept. 

Insights 2:
Most of the users agree that games can do a better job on involving audiences than other concepts. Two of the ideation evaluation participants’ gave the bus station interactive installation the highest score. 
Improvements 2:
The bus station interactive game installation works better than other concepts and got the highest score overall. Therefore, I decided to go with this concept. 

The interactive installation’s storyboard can be found below. It basically shows an audience’s reactions and thoughts when he sees and interacts with the installation.

User flow

The two user flows down below illustrate the possible paths of the gender wage gap interactive installation. The first one illustrates one player version, while the second one illustrates two players version flow.
The game goal is to collect as much money as possible. The player with more money at the end win. In the first step, a person walk to the installation, and wave his or her hands to start the game. In one player mode, the person autometically assigned to enter as player 1, while the computer Ai will take player 2. Then the player will wave hands and make a choice of the gender of the player. In the next step, there will be a game tutorial on how to move your character. During the game the player will have to collect as much money as possible. The special icons are negotiation, newborn baby, and stereotype. Both newborn baby and stereotype is going to slow down the drop speed of money. And negotiation will speed up the speed. At the end of the game, the score will shows up and the players will notice the difference between male and female. Then at the end of the game, there will be a informational screen that talks about gender wage gap. 

For the two players version of the user flow, there are nuances from one player mode. In the first step, two persons walk to the installation, and one person can wave his or her hands to start the game. In two player mode, the person on the right autometically assigned to enter as player 1 which is female character, while player 2 enter as a male character. In the next step, there will be a game tutorial on how to move your character. After that players can wave their hands to start. At the end of the game, the score will shows up on the screen and the players will notice the difference between male and female. Then at the end of the game, there will be a informational screen that talks about gender wage gap.

I conducted three concept prototype evaluation sessions with a rough video prototype and asked them a series of questions on how they feel about this game and if this game gives them influences on how they feel on the social issue of gender wage gap.
The structure of interviews are semi-structured.  The most important questions are:

Do you understand what this game is talking about? Do you understand how to play this game? Do you understand the icons in the game? What is the difference on how you feeling on gender wage gap before and after watching this game? How do you feel on the ending screen? What did you see? Which one do you prefer?
The user testing video can be found below. The first part is the opening and the game. 

The second part is a combination of three different ending. The first one is showing the results of the game and the information of gender wage gap. The second one is the results of the game and the posters.

According to the user test, I found out that there are two most important causes of confusion. First, after the first instruction “ waves your hands to start”, the game starts right away.
In order to solve this problem, I decide to add one more instruction on “how to play this game” before the game start.

The biggest confusion is in the ending part. I made three version of the ending part. And based on the user tests, most of them prefer a block of text that describe what is happening in the game. But they also mention that they do not want to read a long and dry paragraph.
The solution that I came up with would be to combine image and text. Or even add voice to it, so people can listen to what is going on.

Participant mentions that the difference on money make confusions, which leads them to a misunderstanding.
I decided to keep the money in the same style.


Visual design moodboard

The visual style is important to the interactive installation, because it can influence audiences’ feeling and whether they want to stop to look at it. I want to convey the feelings of serious, impact, ironic, and retrospect. There were two different kinds of visual styles that I was considered to use, which includes an ironic gaming style and a black and white visual impact and modern style.

Visual design

I came up with a lot of rough sketches about the final idea. First of all, I decided to divide the screen into two parts so two players could play at the same time and people can see the comparison inbetween them. When audiences other than the players are looking at it they will have a better overall understanding about the social problem behind the game.

I kept the feeling and styles of the traditional games for the first one. Although I wanted to use cute visual style to have contrast with the serious social problem behind it to create an ironic atmosphere, it turns out neither attractive nor visual impactive. 

In the second one, I wanted to give it a feeling of impact and modern to indicate that this is a social awareness problem of today. The main color would be black and white. There might be a little of light and bright color to avoid the design being too monotonous.

I used Photoshop to make a static version of both of the styles, and mock up them into the street view to see which one works better. 

1. The ironic gaming style is neither attractive nor impactive enough to make people stop and look at it. Therefore, visual impact may works better.
2. The second one is impactive but neutral, which makes it can fit in any environment. Therefore, I decided to go with the second visual style.
3. Words in yellow creates difficulties on reading. It would be better to keep them all in a similar style.


Interactive installation video

This interactive installation is a motion sensing based game. According to the user flow, the video can be divided into four parts, which includes before start the game, the instruction of the game, during the game, and the result and further thinking of the game. 

At the begining, the users or the audiences have to wave to the machine to start the game. After the sensor feels the players, the game will start with showing “entering”. The sensor will figure out how many persons are playing, the maximum is two persons and the minimum is one person. In case of one player, the player is the one choose to enter the game as female character or male character. In case of two players, the computer will automatically gives two players one as female character and the other as male character. When the sensor notices players are stand still in front of the installation, they will enter the game. 

After players entered the game, there is a instruction video on how to play the game. Because it is a motion sensor game so players will use their body to play the game. To play the game, players control the yellow bar underneath the screen. By moving it right and left to try to collect as mych money as possible. And the instruction video has the same interface with the real game, so players can get used to the game before they start it. 

After the players successfully learned how to control the yellow bar, the game will begin automatically. During the game the “$1.00” is the one users need to collect as many as possible. The “Stereotype” and “Newborn baby” are two of the biggest reasons why women earn less than man. And when players get those two, the speed of “$1.00” dropping down will be slow down. However, females influenced more because of these two problemsm so the size of “stereotype” and “newborn baby” are bigger than male side. On the other hand, men are better than female at “negotiation.” By negotiating the wage with their bosses, people always get a bigger chance on increase their income. So, the “negotiation” can increase the speed and men side’s “negotiation” is bigger than the female side. 

After the game, the score or the total “money” the players have collected are shown and the players can see the different very easily. 

There will be an ending animation after the game results. The animation used “dear audiences” to call audiences’ attention and also imitate the style of letter or email. The ending intends to make the audiences to think about the game setting again. In this way to make people noticing about the unfairness in the working place and the existence of the gender wage gap.

The whole video of the interactive installation game can be checked below. 

Project Takeaway
I love to do social awareness related project, and I hope my design can change the world or the way people's thinking. As an industrial design student, I did not get a chance to do social problem projects before. This experience is both exciting and challenging. The gender wage gap is hard to describe by using images and a couple of words. The process of overcoming all those problems and difficulties are valuable.