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IWD2022 x FreeState

9:51:04 8 March 2022
37°48’55”S 144°58’1”E

Every day, we at FreeState are actively working to #BreakTheBias in our world by empowering women* and women’s stories. It starts with representation, and having a voice.

As an organisation, we are proud to be female-led and have a strong 60% female team. We’ve pulled together our thoughts about ways we can show solidarity and support with #IWD2022


*Our mission includes women, womxn and all minority genders too



Charlotte Boyens


In recent years, my particular passion for #BreakTheBias has been through sport.


A research report published in 2017 found that participation in sport has an extremely valuable role to play in helping women to perform at their best in their studies and in the workplace. Some of the key findings state that:

– Women aged 16-24 who engage in sport at least once a week are significantly more likely to be in a management role than those who do not play any sport.

– Women who play regular sport are more motivated to achieve long term goals.

– The skills learnt are those known to be particularly useful in leadership and often in areas where women are thought to struggle.


Back in 2014 I helped found the first women’s cricket team at Hampstead Cricket Club, north London (even though the men had been playing at the club for the past one hundred years). The club had recently been blessed with a progressive new chairperson who realised things needed to quickly change, so in 2015 we all took part in a national campaign, #ThisGirlCan, designed to get more girls back into sport. It culminated in one big day in July, the England women’s cricket team spent the day at the club, teaching and playing with girls of all ages, with Sky Sports broadcasting live from the outfield. It was quite unbelievable to feel the empowerment first hand and to play our small part! Six years later the women’s section has more than doubled in size and has a large junior girl’s section which is growing from strength to strength.


When you consider only 6.6% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women, I would say that sport is a critical steppingstone for helping young women create a more equitable boardroom! Out of all the things we can do on the #BreakTheBias front, for me the most powerful is visibility.



Dom Russell


What does your vision for equity look like?

My vision for equity is a society where everyone, no matter their age, gender, sexual orientation, race or socioeconomic status, can be given the opportunity and resources that they require to achieve their dreams. To do this, as a society, we need to shift the narrative from equality to equity, and challenge traditional gender roles and belief systems that have contributed to the gender imbalance. My vision for equity is also a society where people don’t just accept the status quo but are always on the look out to learn more from people who are different from themselves.


How can design enable that?

Within the design industry, we have the ability to change the way people feel within spaces. Designing spaces and experience to give people a sense of freedom to ask for more and to achieve more. Involving eclectic voices within all stages of our design process always us to make a space which is inclusive to everyone. We have the ability to step out of the norm, question traditional views on design and to mould the future to benefit people with different race, gender, age, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.


What is your #BreakTheBias pledge?

I pledge to support and promote a society free from gender norms and social bias, and to always support everyone to be both whoever and whatever they want to be.



Eloise Dalla Costa


What does your vision for equity look like?

My vision for equity is one where everyone is treated with the same level of respect and fairness – basic human rights that in the past, have been dismissed from those who identify as women, people of colour and minority groups. Equity is about empowering these groups and their diverse perspectives, not discouraging them. Equipping them with the same opportunities as others, not setting them back. Challenging traditional stereotypes and societal beliefs about who and what our ‘normal’ looks like.


How can design enable that?

As designers, it’s our responsibility to design alongside users and ensure that we capture a mix of perspectives, genders and backgrounds in this process. Research shows that to date, women have been navigating a world designed for men. From CPR mannequins, NASA spacesuits and hand / fingerprint measurements for smartphones, men have always been used to inform the ‘average’ user. Co-designing with a broader range of users in mind will ensure products, experiences and spaces are relevant and suitable for all.


What is your #BreakTheBias pledge?

I pledge to continually challenge myself and others to examine assumptions, reframe thinking and advocate for diversity and inclusion.



Jessica Watson


What does your vision for equity look like?

The ability to participate in a full and rewarding career without having to sacrifice a part of my identity or drive because society thinks I should be doing otherwise.


How can design enable that?

The design industry has a job to ensure all women (with or without families) are enabled and supported in their career trajectories to decrease drop-out and increase visibility of women’s successes and pathways.


What is your #BreakTheBias pledge?

I pledge to champion and create more platforms for women’s stories to be heard.



Kelly Lai


What does your vision for equity look like?

My vision for gender equity would be a society where our current “normal” for how women are perceived, treated, and others’ expectations of us are unlearned and no longer the norm. A society where men (or those that traditionally have positions of power) are brave enough to be action-oriented in their allyship so that we might, together, create structural change to systematically address the issues of patriarchy.


How can design enable that?

The design industry can enable more equity by having more diverse voices and leaders within its institution. We need more women, people of colour, and people of minority genders in visible, authoritative roles creating environments where everyone can feel safe. Safe to be curious, safe to challenge “how things have always been done”, and safe to bring to the table different perspectives on the products and experiences that get created. As designers, we need to question what gets designed, how it gets designed, and who gets to design.


What is your #BreakTheBias pledge?

I pledge to support, encourage, and celebrate women and minority genders to break out of our social conditioning and subvert gendered expectations.



Su Lim


What does your vision for equity look like?

Highlighting, sharing and celebrating our different voices as a way of strengthening understanding towards fairness, based on individual needs.


How can design enable that?

The process of design must include time and energy in deep listening to diverse user needs and co-designing with communities for the most appropriate outcomes.


What is your #BreakTheBias pledge?

I pledge to call out bias, discrimination and stereotyping, not only around gender, but also cultural, age and appearance. This both in myself and in others.



We are FreeState are actively working to #BreakTheBias every day.


Get in contact to see how co-design and designing for equity can benefit your places and spaces.


For more information on International Women’s Day, visit the website.






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