“Learning to navigate a male-dominated environment is really important,
and I think there are a number of women who have figured that out.”

IT security employee at a government agency


A scoring platform that measures industry efforts to achieve gender balance in the workplace.

Fifty50 Laptop Crop


Fewer women in make it into the STEM workplace than men. And, the women who do make it into tech specifically, end up leaving the workplace at twice the rate of men due to a number of reasons related to the tech industry culture. How might we improve the STEM workplace experience for women early in their tech careers?


Out of this was born the Fifty50 Score. The score creates a quantitative scale to rank companies. Each company’s score captures key activities which represent their efforts to achieve workplace balance. The three main activities include pay gap, headcount and retention rate. It also considers other key factors including employee policies, benefits and perks, support programs, claims and filings, and targeted recruitment.


We needed companies to be able to pinpoint areas of improvement and track their progress. Within the system is a dashboard for companies to use internally to both recognize problematic departments and positions and track progress over time not only internally, but also against other companies in the industry.


We also needed to empower employees to participate and influence change within their own companies, as well as make informed decisions when considering offers of employment. Users anonymously contribute their own salary information, reviews of company benefits, policies and support networks to create a rich view of aggregated user data which is compared against information submitted by a company. Aggregate data is publicly visible, while individual employee data remains anonymous.

The platform also provides a dashboard for users to be able to privately compare position specific information at user-selected companies. This makes them aware of the current wage gap for specific related positions at various companies to empower them to engage in educated negotiations for employment.

“The person that I spoke to first emphasized being very transparent, a lot. Which I like…Everything seemed really transparent and I knew what was going on. I was getting a lot of respect from the company, even as an interviewee.”




Understand through secondary research
Broadly explored the STEM space to quantitatively understand the complexity of the topic; from education, to policies, organizations and media.

Pinpoint design interventions
Identified particular pain points in STEM which could benefit from design intervention.

Qualitative insights through onsite interviews
Conduct semi-structured interviews with women working in tech to fully understand their needs and perspectives.

Ideation and initial concept sketches
Generate a broad range of concepts and ideas to address the identified problems and needs.

Proof of concept mock-ups
Make prototypes to share with key stakeholders to test hypotheses and gain stakeholder champions.


FALL 2014

This project was completed as part of Tad Hirsch‘s Graduate Studio on Design Research Methods at the University of Washington.