Financial Inclusion and Women in the Sex Industry



For the next 8 weeks, our team (Leah DiVito and Brittany Sgaliardich) will be working with Austin-based nonprofit JUST and help them to find new design opportunity spaces within their business model.


JUST deeply understands the current community they serve. They focus on helping Spanish-speaking, female entrepreneurs by unlocking resources to help them thrive. They provide access to capital and coaching within a supportive community to build strong, trusting bonds which carry their clients through to their financial goals with peer-led groups. As JUST looks to expand their mission and future offerings, they want to better understand the financial behaviors of a wider audience. More specifically, JUST wants to understand how other underrepresented communities seek financial inclusion.

JUST has partnered with Austin Center for Design students to research new communities they can serve.


JUST’s mantra is Less Stress, More Joy. Our team resonates with this phrase.

Through interviews, activities, and observation, we hope to better understanding how women working in sex-related industries define and navigate their relationships to money.

Historically, barriers such as credit scores, collateral, and track record have excluded people from starting and growing a business. Similarly, women working in the sex industry face barriers which keep them excluded from financial resources and financial institutions. We were also inspired by the emphasis on trust and community as a core pillar of JUST’s mission. We understand our research moving forward will require an inherent level of trust from the women we speak to.

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We have set clear goals to guide us through the course of conducting our research.

1.  To build empathy with women so we can better understand what it’s like to work in an industry where sexuality is implied in monetary exchange.
2.  To understand how emotional and practical relationships with money affect financial decision making.
3.  To observe the formal and informal financial planning strategies of women in this industry.
4.  To understand the role community plays in navigating the benefits and challenges unique to this industry.

We are looking to speak with:

  • Full or part-time exotic dancers currently working in Austin or other cities in Texas
  • Women who are formal exotic dancers in Texas
  • Women currently working as for-hire dancers in the Austin area
  • Waitresses and bartenders working in women-only environments where their sexuality is implied in their role in Austin


We hope to spend 30-60 minutes with each woman we speak with, observing them at work (when possible), and then doing activities to dig further into their personal relationships with money and their financial decision-making. All interviews will be anonymized and this data will be used for research purposes only.

help us with our research.

We need help connecting with women participants. If you or someone you know may be interested in chatting with us, please reach out to to get in touch. Your perspective is incredibly valuable to better understanding and ultimately designing solutions for this unique group of workers.

As students working with a nonprofit, we appreciate your willingness to help both us and our community.

Austin Center for Design
Austin Center for Design (AC4D) is an educational program uniquely focused on applying design principles to address social and humanitarian problems. Explore more of our philosophy and approach here