Bump Ahead

Created a game to raise awareness of the motherhood penalty

The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid time off to new parents. In addition, child care costs are outrageous - in many states day care is more expensive than community college.

This is the motherhood penalty. New mothers drop out of the workforce to care for their children and lose years of wages and experience. When they return to work, they find themselves making substantially less money and at a lower level than their former colleagues.


Hackthepaygap challenged teams to use data to design tools that demonstrate the gender pay gap in the United States and take steps to reduce it.  


Spring 2016


Myself, Gina Kim, designer at USDS, and Pragyansmita Nayak, data scientist.


Research, prototyping, usability testing


We interviewed mothers of toddlers and infants, both working and not working, to understand their struggles and personal experiences with the gender pay gap and gender bias at work.

"I felt like I didn’t really have a choice. I was overwhelmed by everything that I couldn’t think clearly about what my options are. It’s a very emotional time. This is when you’re redefining yourself."

We also talked to a few non parents who didn’t have any personal experience with the gender pay gap or gender bias at work. We encountered a lot of one dimensional thinking.

“A person who walks away from their job doesn’t get any special benefits.”

In addition to interviews we analyzed data on parenthood, child care cost and labor statistics. We read papers and spoke to experts in the field. 


Bump Ahead is a game that takes players through a story of a new mother. It mixes personal choices with situations out of the players control mimic the unpredictability of life. Data is mixed into the game so that players zoom into their story and zoom out to understand the overall problem.

The game ends with a call to action to challenge their Congressional Representatives to play the game. Our theory of change is that prompting representatives to play the game can help hold them accountable to changing the status quo and pass the FAMILY Act. 


Bump Ahead was selected as a hackathon finalist. I presented our game to Presidential Innovation Fellows, the Secretary of Commerce, and the White House CTO.

Next project: Fashion