March 5, 2021

How augmented reality helps to change the game for gender equality

Read how augmented reality helps increase the visibility of female achievements and contributes to gender equality – one app at a time. 

The Whole Story App

In the U.S. less than 8 percent of public statues represent women. In the UK, a mere 2.7 percent of statues are of historical, non-royal women.

Y&R took matters into their own hands to celebrate historical women around the world. The Whole Story global movement was initiated to build a bridge between technology and public spaces using Wikitude’s augmented reality (AR) technology to highlight powerful women who have made a difference throughout history.

Developed by Current Studios, the app used location-based AR to show augmented female statues alongside existing male figures. Users could locate statues on a map and learn more about the woman’s contributions, as well as share their learnings with friends and family.

Users could view 23 virtual statues in New York City and another 13 throughout the world. The project encouraged people to create and submit more statues of iconic women around the world, hoping one day to be present in all continents. Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, Nina Simone, Marie Curie and Maria Tallchief are examples of AR statues you could find when browsing the app’s geo-AR map.

The Whole Story app by Current Studios

There are many, many untold stories of women throughout the world. What’s really meaningful about this tool is that it gives people the chance to tell their own stories.
Catherine Patterson | Director of Innovation | Y&R

Building historical pieces can take a long time, require long approval processes and are highly costly. For this reason, the global communications firm chose to use augmented reality. “We don’t want to wait for statues to be built, so we took it into our hands,” says Shelley Diamond, chief client officer at Y&R.

The Whole Story app is a great example of how technology can inspire actions in real life. In 2020 Netflix followed the same logic and honored the oft-forgotten real-life sisters of famous men. The streaming pioneer company has planted multiple statues across the UK honoring women whose achievements have been overshadowed by their famous brothers, including. Among those, the public could see the statues of Charles Dickens’ sister Frances Dickens, Mozart’s sister Maria Anna Mozart, Princess Helena Victoria, sister of King Edward VII.

Creating new realities

Technology creates numerous opportunities to reduce gender inequality: not only in history but also in our present.

Female employees make up between 28 percent (Microsoft) and 42 percent (Amazon) of the workforce at major tech companies.

Albeit “slow adopters” of gender equality practices, technology companies worldwide demonstrate increasing efforts in hiring and empowering women in the workplace.

The augmented reality and virtual reality industries seem particularly keen on improving the number of female leaders in the field. Among the most outstanding personalities, a globally recognized thought leader, futurist, and XR evangelist Cathy Hackl paves the way.

On the organizational level, Women in XR (WXR) and Women in Immersive Tech Europe are an example of a directed effort to bring more gender diversity to the augmented reality industry. Both organizations aim to elevate women leaders and advance equality in emerging technologies. In 2018, AWE hit a major milestone by featuring over 100 female speakers.

At Wikitude, we take pride in having nearly 40 percent female team in 2021 and growing. A few years ago we also announced our very first C-level female leader: Nicola Radacher.

We strive to celebrate women’s leadership in augmented reality and tech every day throughout the year. Use the tag @wikitude to share #WomentoFollow who inspire in XR and tech community via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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