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In the burgeoning metaverse, women are being excluded from leadership roles, according to a new report from consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
The company said it saw five early indicators about women in the metaverse revealing gender inequality — particularly in the leadership that created and set metaverse norms. McKinsey estimates that the metaverse will be worth $5 trillion by 2030.
Of course, many experts believe that the metaverse – a 3D animated real-time internet that is synchronous and massively scalable – is not there yet. But the company refers to metaverse-like applications. The report was written by McKinsey’s Mina Alaghband and Lareina Yee.
“The metaverse is still in its infancy. Even its definition remains fluid and likely to continue to evolve. But the consensus, at least today, is that the metaverse is the next iteration of the internet, in which the internet becomes something people dig deeper into rather than something they just see: an evolution from 2D to 3D over a series of of interfaces, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR),’ says McKinsey. “As with other transformative technologies, such as the cloud and AI, which have taken decades to evolve, the early consumers and leaders of the metaverse – including investors and CEOs – will shape the future.”
What role will women play?
McKinsey said it aimed to better understand how gender dynamics play out in the early-stage metaverse by examining a range of data, including that collected for McKinsey’s own June 2022 report on value creation in the metaverse.
“We found an already observable 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 female, only 17% of venture capital (VC) ) dollars goes to women-led and women-led businesses, and only 15% of VC general partners in the United States are women,” the report said.
The report said the reality is that women spend more time in the proto-metaverse than men and, according to McKinsey’s data, are more likely to lead and implement metaverse initiatives. But as in the tech industry as a whole, women are a minority in the metaverse economy. Both entrepreneurial capital and CEO roles in the metaverse space remain disproportionately reserved for men.
More women than men are power users in the metaverse
The survey of consumers in the metaverse found that 41% of women had used a primary metaverse platform or participated in a digital world for more than a year, compared to 34% of men. In addition, more women spent a lot of time in the metaverse: 35% of the women surveyed are power users and spend more than three hours a week in the metaverse, compared to 29% of men.
Women also spend more time than men in the metaverse, especially in cases of hybrid use. McKinsey said research also shows that women are more likely than men to engage in hybrid use cases in the metaverse, traversing both physical and digital worlds to participate in activities such as gaming, fitness, education, live events and shopping via AR/VR. technologies. Men, on the other hand, use the metaverse to participate in purely digital experiences such as gaming, trading nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and attending social events.
The data also shows that more women than men spend a lot of time in the metaverse. And women are more likely than men to participate in the metaverse in hybrid use cases such as fitness, education and live events.
Women are leading the way and executing more metaverse initiatives
In a survey of nearly 450 senior executives, 60% of women reported implementing more than two metaverse-related initiatives in their organization. The numbers show that these female executives are 20% more likely than their male counterparts to implement multiple reverse initiatives, particularly in marketing, employee learning and development, and product design.
But female leaders are scarce in the emerging metaverse economy
Although female consumers and executives are more proactive about metaverse use and initiatives than male consumers and executives, women still lack leadership roles in the metaverse economy. McKinsey’s research shows that over the past five years, male-led metaverse firms received a higher share of total entrepreneurial funding than female-led metaverse firms.
Female executives are more likely than their male counterparts to implement multiple reverse initiatives in their companies. Over the past five years, metaverse companies receiving higher funding shares have been disproportionately led by men. Women consumers and executives are more proactive about metaverse use and initiatives, but women still lack leadership roles in the metaverse economy.
In organizations shaping metaverse norms, 90% of leadership roles are filled by men. A number of standards bodies are emerging to establish interoperability standards for the metaverse, including the Metaverse Standards Forum and the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3). But only about 8% to 10% of member organizations are led by female executives. This percentage compares to the approximately 9% of Fortune 500 companies led by women today.
Organizations participating in the metaverse fora currently shaping future interoperability standards are disproportionately led by men, the report said.
The metaverse has the potential to create profound changes in the global economy, creating new and more equitable opportunities for all who use it. Therefore, it is imperative that all key stakeholders understand the dynamics. According to early indicators, women may already be a powerful metaverse user base, McKinsey said.
Addressing the existing gender gap in leadership roles while the metaverse is still in its early stages is therefore of paramount importance. To do this, industry stakeholders will need to engage a range of different voices and bring diverse leadership to the companies and coalitions shaping the metaverse today, McKinsey said.
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