Leveling the playing field for women in AI, AR and VR is not just the right thing to do — it’s also what’s best for the bottom line. Businesses are better-run. Products are designed to be more appealing to a broader market — men and women.
They’re estimating 170 million VR users by 2018. And the gold rush is under way, as startups fight to position themselves. Already, there are an estimated 690 virtual reality startups, who have brought in an average of $4.5 million in venture capital apiece. They’re building virtual limbs, self-driving cars, 3-D immersive cameras, drone technologies and wearable tech for gaming. Revenues are expected to increase fivefold, from $90 million today to more than $5 billion in 2018. By 2025, AI revenue is predicted to reach $36.8 billion worldwide.
A torrent of computer science students and tech entrepreneurs are headed into AI, VR and AR. That’s where the jobs are. But a lot of very talented women engineers and entrepreneurs find themselves swimming against the current. They face all kinds of impediments to truly advance into management positions at tech companies and get funding fvan their own startups. The new frontier is a boys’ club, but we have a big opportunity right now to open the doors and make sure it’s more inclusive.
The marginalization of women in the tech world overall has already become the new normal in AI, AR and VR. Some of that frat-boy look and feel (which hasn’t changed much since 1983, believe me) shows up as online harassment. Just recently, for example, a female player of QuiVr was sexually assaulted in a VR game. In retrospect, one of the guys who developed the game commented on the dangers built into the game’s structure: “How could we have overlooked something so obvious?”