As a team, we drew inspiration from the many stories of passionate women who advocate for equal gender representation in STEM careers. The women on our team shared the challenges that they felt could influence participation in the workforce. Key points included a lack of clarity around STEM jobs that pertain to their interests and the inaccurate perception of STEM careers as “thing-focussed”, rather than “people-focussed”.
This was not an uncommon finding. A 2011 Microsoft study, that surveyed 1,000 young women between the ages of 11 and 30, identified that 62% of women would like to see more encouragement coming from professional women in STEM, and 23% of women feel that STEM subjects are geared towards boys. This study revealed that 16 is the critical age at which women will decide whether STEM is for them, that is, whether or not they wish to pursue STEM at a higher level of education or as a career path.
Our team conducted further market research in order to identify the discerning factors that influence women in this decision. A total of 55 women of high school and university age were surveyed, revealing that the two blocks most empathised with were:
- “I don’t know what jobs there are available in STEM that I would enjoy”
- “Lack of clarity around what I would be doing in a STEM job”
These are the factors that prevent young women from actively pursuing STEM careers with confidence in their ability and place in the workforce. Not only are they active blocks to equal gender representation and economic growth, but they are also incorrect.
A CSIRO study showed that between 2009 and 2016, the increase in graduate demand for communication skills in STEM jobs has gone up 15.7%, while demand for technical skills has decreased by 3.2%.
50% of the women we surveyed said that a platform geared towards matching STEM jobs to young women based on their interests and preferred work styles would be helpful, while a further 40% said it would be very helpful.
This is the service Poppy provides.
What it does
Poppy is a personalised platform that aims to demystify the skills and industries involved in STEM jobs, helping young women to find their path and pursue it with confidence.
Poppy is a unique interventional tool that is tailored to the experience of young women. It is meant to provide clarity around the specifics involved within STEM jobs, suggested by industry results delivered through a clean, conversational UI interface. These career paths are suggested to users based on relevance to their interests and soft-skills/work preferences, often discounted due to the technical stigma surrounding traditional STEM careers, especially in engineering.
There are many initiatives that are meant to encourage and support women into STEM degrees and careers through personal stories, scholarships or mentoring opportunities.
Poppy’s unique value point comes from providing clarity and personal appeal.
It fills a hole in the pool of resources available to young women and ultimately will contribute to the rise in equality and diversity within the technology sphere by helping convert young women's interest in STEM into an active pursuit of a career in the area.
How we built it
All of our mockups were created in Figma and we used Trello to manage the project within our team of 4.
At the beginning of our journey, we were focused on brainstorming and pinning down our exact problem and the scope of our project. Once we found a gap in the resources provided to young women investigating STEM, we nailed down our specific focus on career path visibility and relatability, by profiling and surveying our target users and understanding how we could help them. From there we built out the website and really thought about the interface and UX - things that we felt would really separate poppy from the existing resources that perpetuate an alienating, corporate, polarising and stale experience for women.
Challenges we ran into
Most of our challenges were to do with either the initial arrival at a comprehensive but well-scoped problem or the implementation of our mockups into a working prototype.
The conversational UI on the second page was difficult to achieve. We spent a lot of time looking into different frameworks and approaches, but eventually decided on building it fully custom - something we were quite pleased with.
Constructing the data flow was something we struggled to achieve in the timeframe, but with this being the first hackathon for most of us, we feel that the realisation of the concept for the demonstration represents our envisioned user flow has been an overall success.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The cohesive design and flow is something we're proud of.
With two of our team members studying a course that is very UX/UI focused, it was a point of strength and something that, in the end, we were happy for.
Additionally, the final focus on clarity surrounding careers and the skills involved was another thing that we felt was a good choice. Looking at the online resources available (whether they be women in STEM-focused, career-decision making focused, or degree-choice focused) and comparing them to our final vision for poppy, we see that we have definitely begun developing a valuable contribution that could have a real impact.
What we learned
Getting our head around the swup framework was another learning experience that also proved challenging as none of our programmers had ever used it before.
What's next for poppy
There's a long way for poppy to go!
Integrating stronger and more robust interactive elements will help to make a rich experience, contributing greater value to users and those invested in its outcomes (universities, etc.). Our implementation of business logic and data storage is limited at this stage, but in the next stage of development, we would look to add depth to the options throughout and implement a well-informed algorithm that generates real and valuable results to users.
In order to bring greater business value in the next stage, we would also look toward integrating some more elements for external discovery/next steps to help facilitate the active pursuit of a STEM career that we are suggesting/encouraging. This would be done by linking to the google search results API with high school students being shown relevant university degrees and uni students will be shown open job/internship listings
Additionally, we would increase the array of available interests, preferred workstyles and job workflows available and hook this up through a database. Increasing the array of available stories for each workflow would also be of benefit.
+++ RESOURCES/LINKS +++
Microsoft research: [https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2017/03/01/40431/]
Swup framework: [https://swup.js.org/]
+++ THE TEAM +++
Griffen Edge: CSS, HTML, JS, Design
Isabelle Kohout: HTML, JS, Copywriting, Presentation
Gabriel Raubenheimer: HTML, JS, Presentation
Margaux Thwaites: CSS, Design, Copywriting