Virtual reality (VR) is changing the way we view the world and each other, literally. Already, the innovation has made advancements throughout numerous industries, entertainment, business, healthcare, etc., reimagining the way we communicate, learn and work.

While it’s true that programmers must take proactive measures to ensure that VR avoids creating hostile environments for women, groundbreaking VR applications can empower female leaders by nourishing supportive mentorship groups, educating on and preventing sexual harassment and ultimately fostering the empathy that safeguards against workplace sexism.

VR’s Realms of Support and Mentoring

In order for women to thrive at work, it’s important that they have strategic support systems of peers and mentors, specifically those comprised of other women who know first-hand the challenges they face regularly. VR extends the opportunity for women to communicate with each other in networks that help them flourish. One great example is the Lioness app created by the integrated ad company Ogilvy in partnership with Google and UN Women. Due to the lack of female representation within the advertising industry, the app was created to foster a platform where women can share and learn from each other’s experiences. Employing various Google tools, including augmented and virtual reality portals, the app offers features a tour creator to generate visual workplace field trips, inspiring students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to female leaders.

Virtual reality also allows women to step into the journeys and professional worlds of successful female leaders. For instance, The Female Planet, a YouTube VR series, makes it easier to shadow and learn from global female leaders by tracking the personal and professional experiences of five women from the tech and even entertainment sectors.

As the confidence gap remains a major challenge for female workers, these virtual worlds can build a more empowering reality, offering them the support and learning tools they need to excel.

A More Empathetic Reality for Working Women

As VR introduces people to new perspectives and information, we will be able to share and understand more clearly the sexism and discrimination, either blatant or unconscious, that working women and female leaders regularly experience. There are still many fundamental and systemic societal changes that we need to improve, but with a market projected to be worth $33 billion by 2022 and a unique ability to educate and foster empathy, VR could be the missing technology to help us get there. Virtual reality doesn’t merely offer a vision for the future, but puts in place a support system and empowering technology that helps professional women thrive.

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