March 11, 2019

How augmented reality is changing the game for gender equality

Throughout history, men have been commemorated for their great achievements. Unfortunately, the same is not true for iconic women.

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.

Augmented reality is changing that.

The Whole Story App

Y&R took matters into their own hands to celebrate historical women around the world. The Whole Story is a global movement that is building 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 uses location-based AR to show augmented female statues alongside existing male figures. Users can locate statues on a map and learn more about the woman’s contributions, as well as share their learnings with friends and family.

Users can currently view 23 virtual statues in New York City and another 13 throughout the world. The project encourages 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 will find when browsing the app’s geo-AR map.

“There are many, many untold stories of women throughout the world,” says Catherine Patterson, director of innovation at Y&R. “What’s really meaningful about this tool is that it gives people the chance to tell their own stories.”

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.

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 26 percent (Microsoft) and 43 percent (Netflix) of the workforce at major tech companies. And although “slow adopters” of gender equality practices, technology companies 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.

Women in XR (WXR) is an example of these efforts. The organization, which aims to elevate women leaders and advance equality in emerging technologies, recently partnered with AWE, the largest conference and expo for AR+VR.

In 2018, AWE hit a major milestone by featuring over 100 female speakers. The “Women Making History” blog series is one of the latest initiatives driven by Ori Inbar’s conference in celebration of 2019’s International Women’s Day.

At Wikitude, we take pride in having a 30 percent female team and growing. This week, we also announced our very first C-level female leader: Nicola Radacher.

Which efforts is your company taking to increase gender balance? Share your story via Twitter and Linkedin by tagging @wikitude.

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