3. Spotlight: Women in VR - Catherine Allen
By Alice Bonasio
Catherine Allen is an award-winning creator in the immersive space. She is co-founder and CEO of Limina, a company she started in 2016 to bring VR content to a wider audience. Before that, she produced genre-setting immersive pieces including one of the very first works which made a deep impression on me when I experienced it at the National Theater in London: BBC VR documentary Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel.
“Making VR as an artist was such a joy, but the lack of diversity in audiences was something I couldn’t shake,” says Allen. “I was frustrated that the only people who could see my work were a really narrow group. Mainly young men who used their headset for gaming. What was the point of making VR content if the audience was this narrow?” she told The Guardian.
Allen is a champion for diversity, and believes we're in a position to build an inclusive immersive sector that challenges the status quo of gender imbalance in creative industries and tech.
A Vision for Women and VR (VWVR) is an initiative started by Allen with support from REFIG.ca, the University of Brighton and Kings College London. It constitutes a type of manifesto documenting the experiences and expertise of women working in this new industry, but also a rallying cry vocalizing the need for greater transparency and gender balance in the immersive sector.
"This is a timely challenge to ensure this transformative media is influenced by both men and women, reflects our society, shapes mainstream culture and affects behavioral change," reads the VWR website.
"Early adopters and the people who make it," she told a TEDx audience in Yok last year. "This is why it matters right now. Male bias is being woven into this new medium. However, what makes VR unique is its newness. It is setting off on the early stages of its journey and is still being shaped. The medium is still all to play for, and by studying the early mistakes of other industries like Hollywood and Silicon Valley we are well-placed to avoid going down that road again." "VR will not only be a mirror of society, it will be a catalyst for social change; an embedder of norms, an amplifier of stereotypes and a site for humanity’s hopes, fears and dreams to be enacted. So, who will steer VR's future?"
Every Tuesday we'll shine a spotlight on the female trailblazers making their mark in immersive tech and their work. If you have a story you think we should feature, just hit reply to this email or tweet me @alicebonasio