Virtual reality won't succeed as a mass market product unless it can be made appealing to women, and the VR/AR industry deals with its internal culture that tends to push women away -- it's a recurring theme for this blog (as here, and here, and also here). So I have to note this story from some 10 days ago about Magic Leap, the now embattled augmented reality company:
In a lawsuit filed in the southern district court of Florida, [former VP Tannen Campbell alleges company CEO Rony Abovitz brought her in to solve the company’s “pink/blue problem,” referring to the disproportionate ratio of men to women in leadership positions at Magic Leap... According to the complaint, Campbell tried for seven months to get Abovitz to attend a presentation on gender diversity that included proposed changes to make the startup a more friendly environment. But, says the suit, the CEO walked out halfway through the meeting after finally listening to the presentation... Campbell was later fired for what she alleges was a challenge to Abovitz to “acknowledge the depths of misogyny in Magic Leap’s culture and take steps to correct a gender imbalance that negatively affects the company’s core culture and renders it so dysfunctional it continues to delay the launch of a product that attracted billions of investment dollars,” according to the suit.
Obviously Magic Leap deserves its day in court to plead its case, but the preponderance of details in the suit are pretty damning, such as:
- One of the three or four core apps that will ship with Magic Leap’s headset “is a game, ‘Dr. G.,’ that has no female heroes or lead characters”. The one female character in the narrative, who isn’t in the game itself, “is a busty woman depicted on her knees grovelling at the heroes’ feet in admiration”...
- A new hire orientation included the unprepared advice: “in IT we have a saying; stay away from the Three Os: Orientals, Old People and Ovaries”. Campbell was told the person in question would not be giving new hire orientations in the future as a result, but that did not happen.