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Through the Eyes of Women in Engineering: An immersive VR experience

Abstract : Young women frequently face implicit behavioral biases – through unfriendly gaze, gestures, or speech – in all aspects of their daily lives. This is particularly true in the field of engineering, where women are a minority, making it emotionally difficult for them to fit in and feel at home, and deterring young women to enter these fields. Yet these systematic implicit biases are very hard to observe without being the target of such behavior and being accustomed to the current “norms” and “ways of acting” in the society. At their root is the misalignment between the stereotypes associated with femininity, and those associated with computer engineering − a misalignment whose keystone is how the gaze of others objectifies the body of women, and whose consequence and means of perpetuation is discomfort. Our objective is to create an interactive piece to communicate the discomfort of women in engineering, to tell their stories and expose this misalignment. To address this objective, we harness virtual reality to create an experience that embodies the user in the place of a woman character who travels through three common scenes in her life as an engineer. We design different gaze interactions, gestures, and speech styles that reflect common patterns for implicit behavioral biases, including objectification, isolation, and belittlement. The piece is an application that can be experienced in a headset or in a web browser.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 6, 2022 - 3:34:36 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, May 1, 2022 - 3:14:39 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, April 7, 2022 - 7:39:34 PM


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Hui-Yin Wu, Johanna Delachambre, Lucile Sassatelli, Marco Winckler. Through the Eyes of Women in Engineering: An immersive VR experience. Texts of Discomfort, Carnegie Mellon University: ETC Press, pp.387 - 414, 2021, 978-1-7948-8071-9. ⟨10.1184/R1/17071172⟩. ⟨hal-03515116⟩



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