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I had one of the best Saturdays yesterday that was filled with energy, excitement, great discussion on social change, creative thinking, and of course the best food as usual geek girl academy standard. I didn't know what to expect for the day, but at the end of day, I felt I learnt more about gender inequality, made more new friends, and felt hopeful of what the team can achieve in 2 sprints and what changes it can bring to our community.

When I first signed up to join the event, I didn't know much about this area, after doing some research online, I learnt a bit about the issues and pains driven by gender inequality from our watch: change the story, There could be so many factors that caused gender inequality, such as stereotype, unconscious bias, 1 side of controling of decision making process, and incorrect masculine image.

And this could arise from early childhood, to young kids at schools, to workplace and family relationship. Global evidence shows that gender inequality is a key driver of family violence and other violence against women. It is scary to think the vicious circle hurting our futures and our future generations could be domestic, workplace and public spaces where no place could be safe. How can we break the circle? And how can we make equality a family value? I don't know how much I can help, but I am glad I can play a role, join the group to contribute on the day.

The day started with warm welcomes from the teams from Girl Geek Academy, the Department of Health and Human Services, CrowdSpot and XYX Lab at General Assembly office. All of us got a nice goody bag, beautifully designed and branded by Girl Geek Academy. We also got to take some professional photos supporting victoria against violence.

I have signed up as a hipster at the event, but cannot help to steal a helper card because it's pretty and I want to help as well.

After some delicious morning tea, catching up with old friends, and making new friends, we were introduced to the teams working actively behind this event to advance the change. I personally feel I was very fortunate I don't have any nasty experience of gender inequality, but I understand how personal this is for a lot of people came in today, trying to close the gap, make them equally respected, and make a better future for their family, friends and children.

Unlike typical hackathon, we were broken into 3 groups: hipsters, hackers, hustlers. These 3 groups spent some quality time with their peers in different rooms, discussing what gender inequality means, and why there is gender inequality. After some deeply engaged discussions, we came back to the lounge and presented back our discussions from our groups.

To me, what I have learnt most at that discussion is gender equality is quite a complicated and broad problem. After hearing my peers' experience, the biggest questions in my mind was "what is normal? and what should be the norm?"

We then heard from the team from XYX Lab and CrowdSpot sharing their experience and knowledge on the existing research they have done, and one of the tools they have built called free to be which young women have used the tool to help our city understand where are their happy and sad places. This research and data insights have provided a lot of good learnings for us. We learnt that to accelerate change, we should also make positive behaviors more visible and spread the positive energy.

We were given the challenge/brief to come up with concepts that close the gender inequality gap at public spaces (so not including workplace and domestic environment) and use crowdspot as a platform to execute the idea in 2 sprints time. We also need to consider marketing, design and built in our solution.

After our individual groups discussion, we shared back our ideas again. All 3 groups have focused on capturing and sharing information. Our hipster group had summarised our ideas around covering environmental feel (physical) and social feel (emotional) stories, because we believe interpersonal stories are something people want to capture, willing to share and care about. We want to design our idea using positive languages to make us part of the solution. We want the solution to be easy to use, and accessible with multiple options. Eg: users can choose among "I like, I wonder, and I wish" to express their feelings around a location at certain time. The "likes" spread positive social stories. The "wonders" spark conversations and discussion and the "wishes" identify the gaps we need to close out.

After lounge discussion and nice afternoon tea, we broke into 5 groups with a mix of hipsters, hustlers, and hackers to work on the idea we will pitch back at the end of the day.

Team Awesome (our team name) gone through the typical design squiggle, we started off bouncing around ideas to tackle parents group, schools, social events and public safety. We had a healthy debate on whether our ideas were solving gender inequality or whether it has lost its focus to solve other social problems. After some rigorous discussion, we came to the lightbulb moment of designing an app that is used by advocates; called "I MIND THE GAP".

The objective of our app is: "As an advocate to close the gender gap, I want to share positive and negative experience at the places, so that the progress of closing the gap can be tracked". By designing the app for the advocates, we would be able to onboard users who are already willing to participate and help with limited marketing budgets, while they could well be our organic influencers on social media.

How does this app work? Well, a user can capture their experience by toggle between I wish, I wonder, and I like categories, and users are able to choose to enter by text, photo, or their own audio (for accessibility reasons), with location and time automatically set at the moment they provided input. (We want to make sure it's a low entry barrier for users to capture the information). We really liked the idea of emojis inspired by free to be, so we included this function in our concept as well.

Once there are enough data, we can see the analysis and insights from the feed " how big is the gap at your location?". Users can see the heatmap color coded by the semantics and the pre-set categories. The more "I wish" are at a location, the bigger the gender gap is.

Users can also drill down at the locations to understand the context behind the aggregated view. They can see the themed hashtags people discussed on what they wish for, eg, #female role models, # equal pay. At the same time, we also pull information on what the local council have done on gender equality. And users will have options to email their local MP, share on facebook and instagram.

That's about it, as our idea. But I love this unique hackathon where there is no prize winners, because we are all winners making impacts to our own community. Some team made a video to demonstrate how the experience would be (what a creative marketing strategy already). While others focus more on the technical and privacy side to consider the built complexity and social responsibilities. And 1 particular idea I love came from another team using game design is having pre-set phrases to discourage trolls and backsplash on negative comments at public, non-moderated environment.

Now the Crowdspot and XYX Lab team will take all our ideas in to build a tool to close the gender gap. And we shall see some more positive changes coming our way.

Thanks everyone again for the great event. #WeMakeChanges!

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