Sharon Kaziunas
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Improving the Work Experience for Women in Tech


Improving the Work Experience of Women in Tech

Creating fulfilling work experiences for all employees through participatory design





Time: 1 month


The Challenge

It’s no secret that women remain significantly underrepresented in the technology sector. Qualcomm started a new Global Inclusion and Diversity (GID) initiative in its HR department to address both the gender gap and presence of underrepresented minorities in the company. The leaders of this new initiative reached out to the Qualcomm UX team to better understand the employee experience for women at Qualcomm and to help design initiatives, programs, and policies that would make Qualcomm an inclusive place for all employees to thrive.


Participatory Design Workshop

We started off this project with a participatory design workshop to quickly identify the unique issues facing Qualcomm’s female employees. It was also important to proactively invite members of Qualcomm's existing women’s employee networks to participate in the design process. Prior to the creation of the Global Inclusion and Diversity team, Qualcomm's diversity initiatives were managed by its active volunteer employee networks. An important consideration in creating an effective research and design approach was to secure buy-in from the current leadership of the employee networks for the changes GID hoped to accomplish.

We recruited 30 women from various roles, career stages, and levels of participation in the existing employee networks to get a representative sense of women’s experiences across the company. I designed and facilitated the workshop to help answer the following question: what are the factors that contribute to creating both positive and negative workplace experiences for women across the company?

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To get this information, I broke the participants up into five groups and led them through a series of exercises to help them identify the challenges and opportunities they face in the workplace. Next, I asked them to group and sort the issues they wrote down on post-its and then to rank the issues they thought were the most important with a sticker. Finally, I asked the participants to pick a highly ranked issue and generate solutions to the problem in their small groups.

The participatory design workshop was successful in identifying broad pain points and opportunities to help us to scope and define the research problem. I collaborated with key stakeholders from the Global Diversity and Inclusion office to identify key themes and patterns. After we reviewed our initial findings, I documented and coded the user research turning the data into key insights.



I followed up with in-depth one-on-one interviews with targeted female employees to elicit more detail about their experiences around the issues that were highlighted in the design workshop. After I synthesized the workshop and interview data, I collaborated closely with a designer and the Global Inclusion and Diversity manager to craft our findings into a design approach.

Above is a sample persona similar to the ones I created for Qualcomm as one way to communicate my interview findings.

Above is a sample persona similar to the ones I created for Qualcomm as one way to communicate my interview findings.



Working in partnership with key management from the Inclusion and Diversity team and an UX designer, the results of the design research:

  • Generated a strategic, data-driven direction for the diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives for women at Qualcomm.

  • Provided a framework to reorganize the women's employee networks to meet budgetary needs.

  • Served as a pilot for future research explorations on other underrepresented minority groups at Qualcomm.

Learn more about Qualcomm's inclusion and diversity initiatives


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