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A Cause We Stand Behind: #ItWasNeverADress

Around the world, a woman in a triangle dress was the universal symbol for the women’s restroom until Axosoft, an agile project management company located in Scottsdale, Ariz., claimed it was never a dress she was wearing, but a superhero cape all along.

The #ItWasNeverADress campaign demonstrates a unique business strategy focused on contribution towards the community and a good cause in order to build brand awareness and company support.

The result of Axosoft’s efforts led to a whirlwind of media attention that catapulted their brand into the minds of millions around the globe who hadn’t known of their company beforehand. 

The brains behind the #ItWasNeverADress campaign, Tania Katan, Curator of Code at Axosoft, wanted to challenge the shortfall of women in the technology workspace before Axosoft sponsored the Girls in Technology Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. which looked to address women equality in the technology field. 

“I started thinking about women in the tech space and what that means and what it means not to be seen, heard, or celebrated and then how do you get a really wide audience of people to see women in the first place,” Katan said. “So I started thinking about symbols and I thought about the women bathroom symbol because it’s an international symbol that both men and women can recognize.”

The #ItWasNeverADress campaign displays an images that depicts the women’s restroom sign sporting white pants, a blue shirt, and a red cape flowing behind her in replacement of her perceived dress. 

“The intention was basically to take this symbol that people see everyday and turn it around. The minute they see it visually, it changes the way they see it every time after that,” Katan said. 

“When Tania…came to me and they gave me their pitch on this idea I immediately saw it and I thought ‘Wow, yes I completely agree. This was big,” Axosoft CEO Lawdan Shojaee said.

Within one week the campaign #ItWasNeverADress was covered by major media news outlets such as The New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post leading to 18 million Twitter impressions. 

“You can’t account for that happening within a matter of a week. I realized then the responsibility of creating something this huge. So we created a scholarship with Arizona State University for women going into STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) fields,” Katan said. 

The lack of women in the technology field is not a new trend and Axosoft is on the cusp of encouraging young girls to seek job opportunities within technology companies by mentoring girls aged 12-17, tracking their progress and encouraging participation in STEAM courses. 

“You can’t get women involved in technology without getting them involved at a young age. A Harvard study said they fall off from STEAM fields between 12 to 17-years-old,” Katan said. “They don’t see themselves in it and it’s not that they’re not inclined to go there.”

Following the aftermath that was the success of #ItWasNeverADress, Axosoft has grown into a household name yet their sales haven’t experienced any significant increases. 

“It (Axosoft) is not a household name, that was the thrust. We haven’t seen a spike in people using our tool but we see a spike in people knowing who we are and now that we have everyone’s attention we can see if that tool is right for them,” Katan said. 

Naturally, Axosoft wants people to use their tools and products, but the heart of this campaign rested in giving voice to women in technology and showing young girls all the space they have to hold within STEAM careers. 

“In writing this piece, we came up with that line, ‘When we see women differently, we see the world differently and this is a visual representation of what women are now and what we can be,” Katan said.

According to Patti O'Brien, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Maricopa Corporate College is a proud sponsor of the #ItWasNeverADress STEAM Conference for Girls because of the message it conveys.  

"When we first saw the #ItWasNeverADress slogan and image, it immediately hit home and we were instant fans. The message is so powerful and in a funny way so obvious, it left us perplexed that we hadn't looked at it that way before. It's exciting when you come across something so inspiring; we contacted Axosoft immediately to pledge support for their STEAM conference for girls," O'Brien said. 

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