Transforming Data About Women, Money, and Politics

Rutgers University: Center for American Women and Politics / 2023 / Gender Equality, Politics & Government

The first-fold/hero section of the scrollytelling project 'The Donor Gap: Raising Women's Political Voices.' A bold circular collage integrates an arm holding a megaphone, supported by a stack of bills. Additional graphic elements include lightning bolts emerging from the collage and a splatter paint effect. Designed by Graphicacy for Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics.


The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University called on Graphicacy to transform static PDF reports into an engaging, dynamic scrollytelling experience that illuminates the gender divide in campaign financing.

Background and Challenge:

Women remain underrepresented in U.S. politics — they comprise only 30% of state senates and 34% of state houses/assemblies. As the leading source for data on women’s political participation in the U.S., the CAWP discovered a major factor for the representation gap: funding.

A public-facing organization based at Rutgers University, CAWP set out to draw attention to the disparities through The Donor Gap project, which depicts the divide between men’s and women’s political funding, candidates, and causes.

CAWP envisioned The Donor Gap providing value to various users, including the media, donors, women candidates, and scholars as well as CAWP’s partners such as political nonprofits, women’s political action committees, women fundraisers, and political parties.

With so much research to work with, CAWP’s primary challenge became presenting their data in the form of a compelling, easily digestible story.

Opportunity and Solution:

To execute on their vision for The Donor Gap, CAWP looked to benefit from Graphicacy’s extensive experience visually portraying social issues such as gender inequality in the U.S. and around the world.

In an extremely collaborative process, Graphicacy offered guidance around data visualization best practices along with the design and technical acumen for building engaging visual narratives. The CAWP team, meanwhile, provided subject matter expertise and shared insights about the underlying data and core user groups.

CAWP had stressed their desire to reach more users by creating a resource that looked like nothing they’d done before. They ultimately went in a conceptual visual design direction, which Graphicacy’s engineers executed for optimal performance across all devices and platforms.

In The Donor Gap, users can navigate three sections:

At the start of each section, users engage with illustrative and sometimes unexpected images, paired with concise statements. As they explore further, they encounter a series of data visualizations—segmented by demographics, geography, and political party offices and affiliation—to support the key message that women, when better funded, can win races and gain parity.

Graphicacy struck the right visual balance between simplicity and visual excitement with its tonal depiction of money and the addition of hand imagery to humanize certain moments.

To visually portray the underrepresentation of women office holders, Graphicacy again used color in the data visualizations to great effect. From the beginning of the animated scroll, horizontal bar charts establish colors for women (purple) and men (green), while a tile map uses a palette of the same colors.

With dynamic, engaging scrollytelling, the Graphicacy team helped CAWP move from a world of static reporting to something truly revealing, where charts and graphs come alive to call out disparities.

A montage of visualizations created for Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics.

“Graphicacy was very responsive and supportive in helping us understand our needs.” “Until we started working together, I didn’t really appreciate how collaborative the relationship would be, and I think it led to just what we hoped for.”

Kira Sanbonmatsu, CAWP Senior Scholar and Professor of Political Science at Rutgers

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