Senior Project: Katie Morgan Explores Feminism and Gender Inequality

IMG_1517 Feminism as a movement, at this time in history, has reached a point where many question its necessity, and there is a common belief that the goal of gender equality has already been achieved. Katie Morgan believes this is a dangerous assumption, so for her Senior Project she created several visualizations representing issues of inequality between men and women to communicate to the general public the work that still needs to be done.

Katie says that she chose her subject because feminism is a “crucial” part of her identity. “It’s hard to justify the position that gender inequality is simply an opinion, so I wanted to represent the data in a way that stirs reaction and sparks understanding,” she said.

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She began her research over the summer and compiled a huge amount of data. There are four major components to her exhibit. The first is a display rendering the salary gap between men and women as a physical comparison of coins in tubes. The second is a large map of the United States that communicates the frequency of incidences of sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence in each state through bright, rapidly blinking lights. She designed the display to be hard to ignore and hopes that viewing it will help people identify with victims and appreciate the frequency with which such atrocities occur in our own country.

Wage Gap Map

A third focus of Katie’s efforts is a series of infographics that address political, economic, and social aspects of the feminist movement over time, highlighting inequalities that still exist across all areas. The specific topics featured include everything from the history of women’s suffrage and women in politics to women in business and the film industry and the “pink tax.”

Master-before prints

The final component of her project defines a series of seven terms, including “consent” and “objectification,” at both simple and complex levels and relates the terms to feminism and inequality. She is also using the Twitterfall application to display a live feed tracking and tallying every time certain gendered insults appear on Twitter. “The numbers will ultimately communicate that this a pervasive problem that needs to be addressed,” Katie said.

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The project was a big one to tackle, and Katie learned new skills such as Arduino programming and infographic design to carry out her vision. She built the technical and physical components with the help of Innovation Lab @Ross instructors Dr. Dave Morgan and Urban Reininger and Visual Arts teacher Jon Mulhern. Mentor Kerrie Tinsley-Stribling advised her on areas of potential focus and helped her with research topics.

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The process was also very personal to Katie. “A concern of mine was the strength and extremity of the words I use being off-putting, despite the fact that such strength is warranted,” she said. In the end, some of the text may be blunt, but no more so than the dire need for communicating and sharing the continued need for feminist dialogue across the globe to help women achieve the goal of equal personhood for all.

Katie’s project debuted in the Ross Gallery on Senior Project Exhibition Night January 21 and will remain on display for some time.