Here’s the truth: the tech industry has long had a gender imbalance problem, and it starts early. Globally, women obtain 53% of STEM university degrees, but in the EU only 34% of graduates in the field are women, according to data from Girls Go Circular.
That has obvious knock-on effects. According to figures from Eurostat, women hold only 17% of major technology jobs, such as programming, systems analysis, or software development.
Startup funding too poses particular challenges for women in technology. In 2021, despite a record amount of capital invested that year in Europe, women founders were on the receiving end of less than 1% of the total funding, or €400 million, according to PitchBook data.
And now, with the advent of the metaverse, these systemic problems are raising their heads again.
The metaverse’s gender gap
A virtual world, or a collective area created by the convergence of physical and virtual reality, the metaverse is envisioned as a shared space where people can interact and participate in a simulated environment that mimics the physical world — albeit in a more enhanced way. The metaverse is underpinned by six technologies known as “BIGANT,” which represents blockchain, interactive, gaming, artificial intelligence, network, and the Internet of Things.
Despite last week’s announcement from Meta that its metaverse division lost $4.279 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, adoption is increasing. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 10% of workers will regularly use virtual spaces, up from 1% in 2022. It also says that by 2027, 25% of retail organizations with an ecommerce presence will have completed at least one proof of concept for tokenized assets using metaverse technologies.
Some companies are already leveraging the metaverse to build up hype, with luxury and consumer goods being particularly quick out of the traps.
At last week’s Samsung Unpacked event, the company announced that it will work with Google and Qualcomm on an upcoming mixed-reality platform. Apple, too, is expanding its footprint in the space, with reports indicating that its hotly-anticipated mixed reality AR/VR headset will arrive in the second half of this year.
Balenciaga gave one of Fortnite’s characters a digital Balenciaga-branded hoodie that could also be bought in real life for €725. Lacoste has created digital looks for Minecraft characters, plus a co-branded Minecraft collection of sportswear available to buy online, and Ralph Lauren created digital snow apparel for Roblox’s Winter Escape, pitched as “the ultimate holiday experience.”
But one issue persists. Right now, there is a significant gender imbalance in the metaverse.
McKinsey data shows women are using the metaverse more than men, both to achieve business goals and for leisure. McKinsey’s data reveals that 60% of women report they have implemented more than two metaverse-related initiatives in their organizations, and they are 20% more likely to implement multiple metaverse initiatives.
But, while they may disproportionately utilize its capabilities, women leaders in the industry are far more scarce. In the past five years, male-led metaverse companies received a higher share of total funding (90%) than women-led metaverse companies (10%).
This matters because the lack of equality has significant knock-on effects. Companies with 30% or more women on their boards have environmental scores that are one and a half times better, as well as four times more R&D investments than companies with no women. The bottom line is affected too: McKinsey says that companies in the top quartile for women on executive teams are more likely to have above-average profitability. Not to mention the fact that a lack of diversity on early-stage development teams leads to deeply ingrained biases and faulty products.
If you want to carve out a career in the metaverse and make a difference in this growing industry, there are plenty of interesting roles available, including the three below, plus many more on the House of Talent Job Board.
Lead Game Designer — Metaverse Solutions, Improbable, Remote
Improbable is leading the way in defining what the metaverse can be. The Lead Game Designer — Metaverse Solutions will be part of the Metaverse Solutions group, working alongside experienced game developers familiar with all aspects of the game development lifecycle. You will be directly involved in shaping both the technical and commercial direction of how metaverse experiences are developed and launched. If you are skilled in designing and documenting core-loops features, and limited-time events within a multiplayer context and have experience managing senior and junior designers across multiple design disciplines (e.g. level design, technical design, progression, single-player, multiplayer), then find out more about the job here.
Software Engineer (Leadership) – Metaworks, Meta, London
Meta is seeking an experienced Software Engineer to join the teams building the core platforms that enable the future of work. Meta wants to solve unique, large-scale, highly complex technical problems, and you will drive the team’s goals and technical direction to pursue opportunities that make the larger organization more efficient. You’ll effectively communicate complex features and systems in detail and understand industry and company-wide trends to help assess and develop new technologies. Interested? Find out more here.
XR/Metaverse Consultant, Komodal, Laval
Leading provider of consulting services on virtual worlds and the future of the metaverse, Komodal is based in France and is seeking an XR/Metaverse Consultant. You’ll join the production team and creatively research, experiment, and go beyond conventional technical limits to detect tomorrow’s innovations related to the metaverse. The role requires a Bac+5 in engineering, IT, design or significant experience in the field of immersive technologies. The cnadidate will also needknowledge of XR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse. Apply for this job here.