Report finds that VR & AR startups still lack female leadership and venture capital.
Sexism in the media industry has been a hot-button issue, as more women are continuing to call out inherent sexism and the undercurrent of sexual misconduct. The Harvey Weinstein scandal prompted a shift in tone — thousands of women and men online shared their accounts of sexual harassment in the workplace and prominent women in the film industry established the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which raised $21 million dollars in the first 60 days.
Actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria have championed the movement, and both have written op-eds criticizing the sexism in Hollywood that impacts every level of the film industry — including the projects that are created and the roles that are designed for women. This frustration led both of these women to create their own production companies that would employ women and include their voices.
But Witherspoon and Longoria’s production companies represent a small fraction of film companies led by women, where only 10 percent of directors are female.
XR, which encompasses virtual and augmented reality, is frequently deemed as more innovative and groundbreaking than traditional Hollywood. But it still seems to be infected with the same sexism plaguing the film industry.
With more than $1.9 billion dollars raised by XR startups in 2017, only 7.7 percent of all venture funding deals went to female CEOs.
“XR startups continue to attract an impressive amount of venture funding,” said Greenlight Insights Analyst Alexis Macklin. “The share of deals of women-led VR and AR companies has consistently increased since 2013, but the low rate is striking. Fortunately, benchmarks like this report will be important for identifying, tracking, and solving structural problems.”
Greenlight Insights who co-authored the report with WXR Venture Fund, a venture capital fund that promotes equal gender representation among VR and AR startups, published the stats of the discrepancies on March 13th.
Despite fewer female XR CEOs in comparison to male CEOs, XR has seen more venture funding to companies with at least one female co-founder over other tech sectors, which is hopeful.
“While it’s encouraging that women founders in the XR space receive a higher percentage of venture funding deals compared to female founders in general, it’s still less than 8%,” said Malia Probst, founding partner at the WXR Fund. “That means that for every 10 funded entrepreneurs in the XR industry, less than 1 of them is a woman.”
The XR industry, however, is still being molded and defined. And women are creating spaces for themselves to garner networking and influence in the industry.
“We’re just beginning to craft the experience of VR — building worlds and defining how to interact or communicate — using an immersive medium,” said Lindsay Metcalfe, the design manager for Google VR. “As women in VR, we have a responsibility to define the culture and to design for inclusivity and diversity from the start.”
Image Credit: Kaleidoscope / Greenlight Insights