There are many different factors behind the low proportion of women in the IT sector. Cybercom wanted to use a filmed experiment to reveal that unintentional bias is one of these, and it developed an augmented reality (AR) app called True Colors for the test.
“We strive to create a workplace for everyone at Cybercom. Diversity, whether in terms of gender, age, ethnicity or religion, is hugely important to us, and is critical to the continued development of our business. But we also understand that there are a number of challenging factors for the IT industry to overcome in order to achieve real diversity. One of these is unintentional bias, which is why we have chosen to highlight the problem using an experiment,” says Niklas Flyborg, Cybercom’s CEO.
Once the user inserts their smartphone into the headset and targets the camera at another person, that person’s voice becomes distorted and their image is anonymised into a colourful chameleon. The app makes it impossible to identify or unconsciously judge a person based on how they appear or sound.
During the experiment four test subjects were asked to wear the headset. They were then positioned in front of four other people with different professions and interests, who talked about their backgrounds. At the next stage, the test subjects were asked to remove the headset and look at the people they had been listening to, before trying to pair each story with the right individual. Their guesses were mostly wrong, and the people were paired according to a more stereotypical image of their professions and interests.
“We wanted to use True Colors and the experiment to show that anyone can judge people from the wrong preconceptions, without even being aware of it. Along with many of our industry colleagues, we are making active efforts to use various ways to highlight and change the factors that make diversity in the sector so low, particularly the proportion of women. There are many explanations, of course, not least that we need to make IT and technology more attractive to women as well as counteract prejudice and smash the glass ceiling. We hope this experiment will help to make us all think a little more,” says Kristina Cato, Head of Communications at Cybercom.
Watch the experiment here: https://youtu.be/cz_C5Wiweg0
Niklas Flyborg, President and CEO
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