From a social media group to a non-profit organization fighting for equal rights: this is the story of Women in Immersive Technologies (WiiT). This new organization founded by a group of women working in the extended reality field wants to promote gender equality in the industry. In May 2016, they created a Facebook group. But recently, the founders realized that they can achieve much more than create dialogue on social media.
WiiT: Giving Women a Voice in the Immersive Technology World
As the team explains, many XR industry gatherings and most companies are heavily male-dominated. Based in Brussels, Belgium, the new non-profit organization has four key goals:
WiiT wants to give women working in AR, VR and MR a platform to meet, discuss, form partnerships and find inspiration.
The non-profit plans to organize various events where women working in new technologies can learn and share new developments. These events will also promote the idea of gender equality in the tech world.
WiiT wants to encourage and inspire women to choose a career in augmented, virtual, or mixed reality, and join one of the fastest-growing fields. Through helpful advice, mentoring and support, the organization will help women stay strong during difficult career moments.
The non-profit organization aims to be an online resource center, where women learn and grow. The network will offer tutorials, workshops, as well as training opportunities.
Who Are the Founders of WiiT?
The four founding members of Women in Immersive Technologies are:
- Leen Segers, software entrepreneur, WebXR expert and founder of LucidWeb;
- Ioana Matei, professional film maker and AR/VR Leader at P&G;
- Sara Lisa Vogl, XR experiences developer and director, studying humanoid robotics;
- Vera Grablechner, digital media expert and founder of a mobile VR charity game.
Together, as Leen put it, they want to “fight the unconscious gender bias through conscious action.”
How Gender-Unbalanced Is the XR Tech Industry?
XR is a fast growing field of technology. By 2025, according to some projections, it will reach a global value of US$570 billion. However, so far, it is heavily male-dominated. Same as the whole technology sector in general, and even the creative sector. According to WiiT, only 25% of XR film directors, and only 18% of tech founders are women.
And this lack of involvement of women in the AR/VR field also has repercussions on consumers. An interesting thing WiiT founders note is that women are more likely to experience motion sickness from XR devices, as well as ill-fitting headsets. The reason for this is that women are not properly included in the design process of these devices.
An Immersive World for All
Through their initiative, the four founders of Women in Immersive Technologies want to create balance in this far-reaching tech field. By offering women a network of support at European level, they want to encourage them to choose a career in this exciting field.
The recently launched WiiT website already contains several helpful resources:
- An online directory of AR/VR organizations;
- A list of XR women speakers in Europe;
- Training resources;
- Funding resources and advice.
Also, the website maintains a calendar of relevant events in the immersive technology industry. If you are interested in this initiative, you can support it by becoming a partner, contributor or ambassador. Also, you can still join the Women in Immersive Tech Facebook group initially created by the founders.