How might we increase the visibility of women of colour and foster an environment of inclusivity to encourage women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

GOAL 5: Gender Equality | By: Shania & Asfa

Girls and women are systematically tracked away from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields throughout their lives. This is often done through our education system, cultural influences, dynamics of power and gender, and the media. These, in turn, create a multitude of barriers and roadblocks for women studying or working in these fields. Additionally, being a woman of colour adds on to those barriers and presents a completely different spectrum of challenges. STEM fields remain heavily male-dominated while women face a lack of opportunities, mentors, and role models. It’s necessary to address this growing issue so that women in these fields can be recognized and supported. Unfortunately, there are currently more barriers than access points for this problem and there are a plethora of stakeholders that contribute to it. One of the biggest contributors is perhaps the lack of awareness and acknowledgment of this issue. Thus, this system map aims to explore the connections between barriers, access points, and various stakeholders, and displays the fact that while our society is a current contributor to this problem, the solution also lies in our hands.

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Henry Hering.
National Library of Medicine

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AIGA 2018.

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Our HMW question was largely influenced by our own experiences and the experiences of friends and family who were involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. As women, we wanted to encourage others to pursue these fields and feel that they have the necessary support network to be able to succeed and thrive in these workspaces. In our research, we came across the concerning fact that many of these professions do not cater to women, especially those with families. If they need to take time off to support their children or spouses, they are seen as less motivated or less serious about their job. We hope that we can change this way of thinking and find a way to support and empower women so they can make positive changes in the world.


As a woman of colour and a visible minority, goal five of the UN sustainable development goals stuck out. I do a lot of activism work on the side and it’s introduced me to some of the most empowering stories and individuals and it’s brought me to re-evaluate my role in the world. I see design as a means to facilitate change and encourage dialogue on topics that are often brushed aside. Design is the ability to have a visual conversation and in this ordinary world, doing something extraordinary may sometimes consist of something as simple as shifting our thinking. Thus, our HMW question is inspired by that and by the realization that each of us are capable of facilitating change on an individual level. Through our research and study of this topic, while we’ve had the opportunity to meet with some powerful and passionate women, we were also faced with the startling realization that there are a lot more barriers than access points and solutions for women of colour and a lot of the discrimination that women of colour face are a result of micro-aggressions and even unconscious biases.