VR game seeks to promote gender equality

By Yair Oded

Updated May 19, 2020 at 01:52 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

The past year has seen an increase in global mobilization around feminist causes and the promotion of women’s rights. Alas, despite some notable victories in courts and legislatures, women across the world remain vulnerable to violence, oppression, discrimination, and violation of their rights—including the right to control their body.

Women of colour in predominantly white societies appear to suffer even more greatly from discrimination, as in addition to prevalent misogyny they have to contend with deep-rooted racial biases that limit their access to opportunities available to white women. In other words, minority women have yet another layer of prejudice they must obliterate in order to achieve genuine equality, whether in education, employment, or visibility on the political stage.

A creative attempt at tackling this problem comes from Debias VR, a tech company founded by Clorama Dorvilias and her business partner Jessica Outlaw that focuses on eliminating bias from the classroom environment. Dorvilias and Outlaw have developed a VR game called Teacher’s Lens, which uses interactive and immersive learning experiences in order to encourage educators to become aware of and ultimately transcend their gender and race biases.

Dorvilias and Outlaw cite various studies which indicate that in particular subjects (primarily STEM), teachers tend to favour male students, discourage girls from participating, and have generally lower expectations from students of colour. Dorvilias, a woman of colour herself, has also drawn her own experience with biased professors who discouraged her from embarking on a career in the tech industry in order to develop a tool that exposes and remedies classroom inequalities.

Teacher’s Lens provides educators with a VR headset which simulates the experience of a teacher conducting a class to a diverse group of students. Throughout the simulation, teachers are presented with various scenarios which potentially point out their subconscious biases, such as which student they’re inclined to call on first, discipline, etc. “Black and Latino students are disciplined at higher rates and tracked into AP courses at lower rates so it would be good if people would start making decisions based on data and examine some underlying structural issues,” said Outlaw in an interview for Motherboard.

One of the primary goals of Dorvilias and Outlaw is to remove all shame and guilt aspects from the process of debiasing, as the two note that often people are left with a considerable amount of pent-up resentment following a diversity training. “Bias training shouldn’t be there to shame,” Dorvilias tells Motherboard, “People should feel good about making others feel accepted. Debias isn’t something that you can work out in a day. It’s a behaviour that you have to work through. We want to give people the capacity to work in a safe and comfortable space.”

It appears that an initiative such as Teacher’s Lens may very well achieve this by simulating an environment that is truly engaging. As opposed to being lectured, educators who enroll in the programme have an opportunity to tap into their often subconscious thought-processes and experience in real-time the scope and nature of their bias. Furthermore, unlike many lecture-based diversity trainings, Teacher’s Lens uses personalised data that is accessible at all times and thus helps people monitor and track their progress over time, which encourages educators to make a real change in their approach.

What we often fail to acknowledge is that the damaging effects of racial and gender-based prejudice reverberate far beyond the walls of the classroom or office, and permeate all aspects of our lives. A society that is molded upon pillars of bias ultimately does an immense disservice to all its members. As stated by Dorvilias, “It affects society and our economy as a whole when you draw the line on what you think a person is capable of doing based on how they look. What limitations are we placing on society and our innovation when people in power put a cap on who gets to succeed and who doesn’t?”

Could technology be harnessed to promote genuine equality between the sexes and races? Dorvilias seems pretty convinced that it could, “The nature of VR has limits to it. Until people try it, they won’t really understand why it’s so powerful. Once they try it, they’re transformed.”

This article was published as part of an ongoing partnership between Screen Shot and Fair Planet

Keep On Reading

By Abby Amoakuh

Two of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims are stalling the release of remaining documents as they fear physical harm

By Abby Amoakuh

Nicola Peltz Beckham faces backlash following new controversial campaign with Balenciaga

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

From one 90s Black girl to another, how on earth did we survive hair relaxers?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Student dies a painful death after inhaling two to three bottles of laughing gas every day

By Abby Amoakuh

The internet is obsessing over Bridgerton characters Benedict and Francesca’s sexualities 

By Charlie Sawyer

Donald Trump warns of chaos and bedlam if his name is kept off the US presidential election ballot

By Abby Amoakuh

What does rizz mean? Learn why it’s Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2023

By Charlie Sawyer

Tennessee Republican Gino Bulso fights ban on cousins getting married

By Charlie Sawyer

Woman who claimed to be Madeleine McCann breaks silence months after DNA test

By Charlie Sawyer

Piers Morgan responds to Shakira’s claim that the Barbie movie is emasculating

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Olivia Colman reveals she’d earn a lot more money in Hollywood if she were a man

By Charlie Sawyer

Coffees for $20 and a lukewarm lineup, has Coachella passed its peak and entered its flop era?

By Abby Amoakuh

Sydney Sweeney sex tape leak malware used as bait by hackers on Twitter

By Charlie Sawyer

Tracking down the mystery man who’s been punching women in the face in New York

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Who is Bobbi Althoff, the podcaster who’s rumoured to have had an affair with Drake?

By Abby Amoakuh

What is girl therapy? The TikTok trend disguising middle-class consumerism as self-care to Gen Z

By Alma Fabiani

This Texas zoo lets you name a cockroach after your ex and have it fed to an animal

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK landlords to ban tenants from having sex with new no-sex tenancy clauses

By Charlie Sawyer

Video of teenage girls using makeup to put on blackface in Sephora goes viral

By Abby Amoakuh

Netizens are comparing the Israel-Hamas war to the Hunger Games franchise. Here’s why it doesn’t work