Challenging the misrepresentation of female athletes in media


Set to release for Tokyo 2020, #changethegame is a movement to advance gender equity in sports, featuring the women of Team Canada in a campaign that challenges the language which misrepresents women in media. The campaign’s mobile website features interviews with athlete ambassadors and a template for supporters to create their own Team Canada branded digital posters. Each poster represents an individual’s personal definition of positive representation, forming a collective voice towards the respectful portrayal of women in media.


A five week student project, 2017


Elizabeth Chan, Kosuke Futsukaichi


UX Design, Visual Design, Photography, Content Strategy, Production


People's Choice for Van UX Awards 2017



Media Portrayal of Female Athletes

Identifying and framing the problem scope

Women and female athletes are often underrepported and misrepresented by [sports] media. Female athletes and particularly the Canadian women in Rio 2016 had an incredible showing in numbers and medal counts but even then, their achievements were still undermined by criticism of whether they fit into gender norms such as their relationship status or attractiveness which justifies the exclusion of women from positions of power.

The Olympic Games in Rio 2016 is a primary example of how people used social media to call out sexist remarks and pressure reporters to change or apologize their commentary:

Examples of sexist coverage during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics


Canadian Olympic Comittee

Improving the visibility and position of women in sports through Olympic channels

#changethegame combines campaign resources, social media, and Olympic hype to strengthen the Canadian Olympic Committee's (COC) efforts towards reducing gender inequality in sports. With the major success of Team Canada's female athletes in Rio 2016, the COC has an opportunity to increase the exposure of female athletes on a global stage by leveraging the Olympic Games to improve the visibility and position of women in sports.

As there has been an increase in funding for advertising and social media, #changethegame would align with the COC's objective to strengthen the brands of Canadian athlete's to attract more corporate sponsors. Finally with this campaign, the COC follows the values and responsibilities outlined by the International Olympic Channel and their Women In Sport Commission. 


#changethegame aims to increase the visibility of positive female representation while challenging sexist language in media. Improved coverage and portrayal of female athletes can increase viewership, sponsorship, funding, and participation of Canadian women in sports which can be measured by national and provincial wide statistics.
(e.g. Women in Sports Report by CAAWS, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity).

To impact business outcomes, #changethegame is expected to increase audience engagement with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s digital channels and increase Team Canada’s brand value. The success of this campaign can be measured through social media impressions, number of views on athlete interviews, page views, and donations to sponsor athletes and organizations which create opportunities for women and girls in sports such as CAAWS and the Champions Fund.


Campaign Theme

Addressing gender biases through language

Our campaign theme focuses on language and word choice as they are integral to changing what is often assumed as the social norm. To recognize and address unintentional or intentional biases, each athlete ambassador is promoted through a unique poster based on one of her interview questions. A phrase such as "too strong, too confident, too powerful for a woman" is meant to address the stereotype that "too much" athleticism and strength are unattractive traits for women. Viewers can respond to this criticism by creating an identical poster with their own photo and words using the digital template on the mobile platform. 

Our themed posters were inspired by interview soundbites from Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, and Marian Esparza. 


Campaign Personas

Developing three user journeys to demonstrate possible ways to engage with campaign content

Our team designed a mobile website as there is an increasing number of Olympic viewers discovering Olympic content through channels such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook on mobile devices. We developed three personas with different motivations and goals to demonstrate the possible user journeys experiencing the same campaign content:


To see each persona's possible experience, view slide deck here


Athlete's Page

#changethegame is an opportunity to increase visibility and respectful portrayal of women in sports through curated content created by the Canadian Olympic Committee. On the Athlete’s Page, viewers can access interview with athlete ambassadors covering topics such as their experience as women competing in the Olympics, advice to young athletes, and training routines.


Make Your Own Template

The feature “Make Your Own” template on the website demonstrates a streamlined four-step navigation process that enables people to create original content with their own words and photo. This simple and visually-engaging process of content creation means people are able to effectively transition their message from the #changethegame digital platform over to their immediate social circles.


Our Voices Page

Our Voices Page collects everyone’s posters across social media platforms to form a visually cohesive representation of supporters. As this campaign is meant to take advantage of the Olympic spirit, viewers can identify themselves as part of a larger movement towards the gender equity in sports by seeing it gain traction on the Our Voices Page. Lastly, supporters can see how the #changethegame template can be creatively applied to celebrate all women beyond the scope of competitive sports.


This project taught me a lot on the importance of content creation and communication strategy within the field of User Experience Design. From copywriting the templates to applying Branding across all digital touch-points, I learned how to craft a cohesive and visually-compelling experience that could contribute towards the advancement of gender equity.

 Our team was happy to see our athletes sharing our images and using the hashtag on their social media accounts which made #changethegame, in a small way, feasible and tangible.

Special thanks to our featured athetes:
Georgia Simmerling - Team Canada Alpine Skier, Track Cyclist, Freestyle Skier, 3X Olympian, Bronze Medalist in Track Cycling, Prospective Tokyo 2020 athlete.
Alannah Yip - Canadian Rock Climber, 2X National Champion, Prospective Tokyo 2020 athlete
Izzy Chan - Canadian Karateka, National Champion, Prospective Tokyo 2020 athlete

View project slide deck here


Seeking for new opportunities