Despite claims by proponents of the technology that its platforms will be built on the principles of openness, accessibility, and equality, metaverses are already revealing the same old prejudices concerning money and power. Despite the fact that women commit to greater levels of meaningful engagement with metaverse technology, investors are more inclined to invest in metaverse firms managed by males, and they are more likely to invest larger sums in them.
Web3 or Web 3.0 is an idea for a new version of the World Wide Web. According to its proponents, it intends to use technology to combine concepts like decentralization, transparency, and justice into a modern transaction economy. Uncertainty remains as to whether or not this is even conceivable, however, Web3-specific evidence suggests it is not.
Over a decade of decentralization via the still-developing technology of cryptocurrencies has spawned speculative bubble after speculative bubble, each one underpinned by fewer fundamentals than the last. The transparency of blockchain technology has not prevented numerous Web3 “entrepreneurs” from stealing investor funds and disappearing. And metaverse technology has seen self-described technology pioneers pour billions into sub-Wii recreations of work and residential spaces, where the only thing correctly duplicated is the outdated hierarchies it purportedly sought to eliminate. Currently, many firms are hopping on this bandwagon to increase diversity.
In this regard, a recent McKinsey & Company study revealed that the bright new world of metaverse business already has a remarkable resemblance to the old story. Attracted by the promises of Web3’s key ideals of openness, accessibility, and equality, women, who have long been underrepresented by institutional and ideological prejudices in the corporate sector, have been much more active than men in the metaverse.
41% of female respondents had used a “major metaverse platform or participated in a digital environment” for more than a year, whereas only 34% of male respondents had done so. In comparison to men, who spent only 29% of their time on the platforms each week, women spent 35% more time there.
Additionally, it was observed that more metaverse projects were led by women than men. In a second McKinsey survey of 448 female executives, it was found that sixty percent of women have executed more than two metaverse initiatives, compared to fifty percent of men in the same jobs. Even though McKinsey identifies more women than men as “power users” in the metaverse due to their commitment and innovation, this is not acknowledged by investors and risks becoming entrenched because males continue to occupy the majority of key decision-making roles.
In the last five years, just 10% of the metaverse businesses that attracted financing were founded by women. And even though 90% of financed companies were founded by men, investors allocated 95% of their funds to these companies. In other words, female-founded enterprises earned below-average investments even when they were granted finance. Those companies formed by women received a total of $5 billion, whereas those founded by men received $107 billion. In the future, existing metaverse standard-setters may opt to define this type of gap as well.
Currently, men dominate the leadership of organizations that participate in metaverse forums that shape interoperability – the potential to connect economies, avatars, and systems across metaverses. Just nine percent of the founding organizations of the Metaverse Standards Forum are headed by women. However, 66% of the key members have no female CEOs or executives. Similarly, there are no women in executive positions at 75% of Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 member organizations. Due to a lack of diversity, the administration of metaverse development faces the risk of being blindsided and structurally guaranteeing that gender inequality will manifest in ostensibly cutting-edge technology.
The authors of the paper, Mina Alaghband, and Lareina Yee noted in their analysis, “We found an already discernible gender gap in the metaverse, similar to the gap that exists in Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, where less than 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women… The metaverse has the potential to bring profound change to the global economy, as well as to create new and more equitable opportunities for all who use it – which is why it is imperative for all key stakeholders to understand the dynamics at play. To do so, industry stakeholders will need to engage a range of different voices and infuse diverse leadership into the companies and coalitions shaping the metaverse today.”
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