VOXReality Team

Gender balance in the XR field: VOXReality’s commitment to women inclusion

Gender equity in Research and Innovation stands as a cornerstone of the European Commission’s  broader commitment to fostering equality across all European Union policies. This dedication to gender equality is particularly pertinent in the context of emerging technologies like Extended Reality (XR). 

As XR continues to reshape how we interact with the digital world, the European Commission’s focus on gender equity ensures that the transformative potential of XR is harnessed through diverse perspectives and inclusive practices. By promoting equal opportunities for women in research, development, and leadership roles within the XR field, the Commission aims to enrich the industry with varied insights, ultimately leading to the creation of XR applications that are more accessible, user-friendly, and reflective of the diverse needs and experiences of all individuals, irrespective of gender. 

In embracing gender equity, the European Commission not only addresses a crucial aspect of social justice but also enhances the innovation and societal impact of XR within the European Union.

The XR field, encompassing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is rapidly evolving, promising ground-breaking innovations and transformative experiences. However, like many tech industries, gender imbalance persists within XR, with women underrepresented in key roles. 

In this article, we shed light on the importance of gender diversity in the XR industry and highlight the exemplary efforts of VOXReality in promoting women’s inclusion.

The XR gender gap: a closer look

The XR industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, yet women remain a minority in the sector. From development and design to leadership positions, the gender gap persists, limiting the diversity of perspectives and ideas. This lack of representation not only hinders innovation but also perpetuates a cycle where women are discouraged from entering or advancing in the field.

Achieving gender balance in the XR field is crucial. First, diverse teams bring a variety of perspectives, leading to more creative and innovative solutions. In a technology landscape that aims to enhance human experiences, diverse voices ensure that XR applications are inclusive and considerate of the needs and preferences of all users.

Furthermore, gender diversity fosters a more inclusive and supportive work environment, encouraging women to pursue careers in XR without fear of isolation or bias. This inclusivity is essential for attracting and retaining talent, as well as for creating a positive and collaborative industry culture.

VOXReality's commitment to women inclusion

VOXReality, an Horizon Europe funded project in the XR domain, stands out for its unwavering commitment to promoting gender balance with a particular focus on women in leadership roles, actively championing the involvement of women in pivotal positions, recognising their invaluable contributions to the XR field. The project consortium recognises the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping the future of XR and actively works towards breaking down barriers for women in the field.

Moreover, VOXReality has taken significant strides in prioritising diversity in recruitment and leadership positions. Women are not merely present but are actively driving decision-making processes, shaping the trajectory of the project from its inception to implementation. The intentional inclusion of women in key roles sends a powerful message about the project’s commitment to breaking down gender barriers within the XR industry.

The impact of VOXReality's efforts

The impact of VOXReality’s efforts is transformative. The project has witnessed a notable increase in the number of women occupying crucial roles in XR-related activities and events. 

By showcasing the leadership and expertise of women within the XR community, VOXReality is dismantling stereotypes and highlighting the immense talent that women bring to the forefront of XR innovation.

The success stories of women who have assumed pivotal roles within the project stand as powerful testaments to the opportunities and support provided by VOXReality. These stories not only inspire the current generation of women in XR but also serve as beacons of encouragement for future female enthusiasts, illustrating that leadership roles are not only attainable but are actively encouraged within the project.

Meet the researchers from the VOXReality Team

Ana Luísa Alves is a Project Manager at F6S, with 8 years of experience, with 5 years of experience in international project management in various EC including framework contracts. 

Carina Pamminger is Head of Research at Holo-Light. Carina brings over ten years of research experience across several disciplines, ranging from the games and transportation industry to augmented and virtual reality sectors. Her main interest areas are in investigating novel ways of leveraging innovative XR technologies to further enable and enhance the Industrial Metaverse.  

Irene Viola is ​ tenure track researcher in CWI, in the Distributed and Interactive Systems laboratory. Her focus is on compression and Quality of Experience (QoE) for immersive media.

Jiahuan Pei obtained her PhD at University of Amsterdam and joined DIS group at the CWI (NWO-I) as a researcher. 

She focuses on generative dialogue systems in extended reality (XR) specifically for the VOXReality project. 

Moonisa Ahsan is scientific researcher and post-doctoral fellow in the DIS (Distributed & Interactive Systems) Group at CWI (NWO-I), the Dutch national research institute in the Netherlands.

In her current role within the VOXReality , she contributes her expertise to understanding next-generation applications in Extended Reality (XR). Her primary focus is on unraveling user needs and translating that knowledge into innovative solutions that significantly enhance the user experience across diverse scenarios.

Natalia Cardona is a corporate communications specialist, Master in Journalism and Digital Content Innovation by the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Currently working in dissemination, communication, and marketing of technology, innovation, and science for projects funded by the European Commission at F6S.

Olga Chatzifoti expertise lies in digital and digitised spatiality with a focus on extended reality (XR) environments currently working at Gruppo Maggioli

Her academic background includes an MSc in the interdisciplinary program “Geoinformatics” in NTUA, Greece, and an MSc in the interdisciplinary program “Serious Games & Virtual Reality” in the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. She has since worked as a researcher for the Glasgow School of Art and Heriot-Watt university and collaborated on projects with the Cyprus Institute and Stanford University. 

She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Informatics & Telecommunications of the University of Athens with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction in XR environments.

Regina Van Tongeren is marketing and brand manager in the entertainment industry at Immersive Tech Week by VRDays Foundation. She’s had the privilege to construct some amazing stories for consumers and work with wonderful brands loved by many people. Since September 2015 she is also working as a part-time lecturer marketing and branding and enjoys giving students the tools and knowledge they need to become successful professionals and create some amazing stories of their own.

Stavroula Bourou received her Master of Engineering from National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) in 2015. Additionally, she holds a MSc Degree on Geoinformation Science with specialization in Computer Vision from Technical University Berlin in 2019.

From 2019, she is working as Machine Learning Engineer at Synelixis. She has working experience in conducting research on different aspects of AI, including among others Federated Learning and Privacy Preserving Deep Learning, GAN models, NLP solutions. Additionally, she has hands-on experience on building complete AI workflows, from data collection and model creation until deployment to production. 

Our reflection

Gender balance in the XR field is not just an ethical imperative but a strategic advantage. The commitment of EU funded projects like VOXReality to women’s inclusion is a beacon of hope for a more diverse and vibrant XR industry. VOXReality’s commitment to women’s leadership and inclusion is not just a commendable ethical stance but a strategic imperative. 

By championing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and actively supporting women in leadership roles, projects like VOXReality are steering the XR industry towards a future that authentically represents the diverse talents and experiences of its participants. As we celebrate the strides made by projects like VOXReality, we continue striving for a more equitable and inclusive future for the XR industry, where the leadership roles of women are not only acknowledged but celebrated.

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