Carnegie Mellon University

'Claim Change'

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Advocating Equal Wages for Women

Claim Change
Vanessa Koch, a senior communication design major at Carnegie Mellon University, is using design to create a grassroots campaign called "Claim Change," aimed to raise awareness and inspire action on issues related to the gender wage gap.

Koch received a grant from the Women and Girls Foundation to design large, three-sided, freestanding installation pieces with women's personal narratives about their battles with equal pay displayed on the panels.

The piece was part of Koch's senior project in Carnegie Mellon's School of Design — recently ranked number one among College Crunch's top 10 design programs in the country.

"The Claim Change campaign aims to initiate conversations among young people who previously have not considered the personal relevance of gender equality issues," Koch said. "I hope to empower young women and men to harness the power of negotiation, setting themselves up for the best possible opportunities in the professional world."

The installations also encourage observers to talk to their members of Congress and the general public about the issue. A coin slot on the display raises funds to support the Claim Change initiative and will be donated to the Women and Girls Foundation.

Koch started the project last fall in the School of Design's senior project course taught by Kristin Hughes, associate professor of design. She plans to use Carnegie Mellon's Spring Carnival, April 15-19, as an opportunity to promote the project and raise awareness of the Equal Pay Day Rally on April 20. This date marks the additional amount of time an average woman in the United States must work to match the earnings of an average male worker from the previous year.

Koch hopes to have installation pieces filled with coins to demonstrate the support for the cause.

"By creating a community of young activists who are motivated to claim change both in their personal lives and in national politics, I hope to redefine feminism for a new generation," Koch said.

Claim Change advocates an immediate call to action to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is pending in Congress. The act has the potential to increase gender equality in the workplace and decrease the gender wage gap on a national level.

Related Links: School of Design