While the metaverse is still a few years away from becoming more mainstream, its current version has a reputation of being not very female-friendly. With cases of sexual harassment brought up by various female users, it’s clear that rules need to be established to ensure a safer virtual environment for everyone. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is already making changes to improve its virtual platforms Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues. Known as the “personal boundary“, an invisible barrier surrounds their avatars, making sure no one can get within four feet of a user. Though this may be helpful to prevent other incidents, it may not be enough to promote a diverse virtual ecosystem. Because of this many women-run companies are taking the reins and charging headfirst into the metaverse.
Women-run Companies are Making the Metaverse More Diverse
Unfortunately, the metaverse may not be very welcoming for them. According to an article from Fast Company, only 55% of adults understand NFTs. Of that 55%, “They’re mostly male crypto-adept collectors.” Around 20% of American internet-savvy males reported that they own at least one NFT, compared to 7% for their female counterparts. This leaves quite a large diversity gap for users and businesses hoping to enjoy this virtual industry. Thankfully, there are a few women-run companies working to encourage more diversity, including Women Rise, Meta Angels, and Curious Addys. These companies not only sell exclusive NFTS made by women but also create safe communities where women can learn more about the metaverse.
Curious Addys was designed to help better educate people, specifically women, on how to trade crypto and buy NFTs. Learning is facilitated through a game-like structure and led by a cute cartoon octopus named Addy. Addy teaches users how to mint an NFT and to set up a crypto wallet. The octopus was chosen as an embodiment of ADHD, with eight hands doing different things at the same time. Two of the developers of Curious Addys have ADHD and found a comradery of people with ADHD within the crypto-community. According to co-founder Mai Akiyoshi: “Once I really started to explore, I began to realize the power of the communities that NFTs could create.”
Realising the Power of NFTs for Inclusion and Diversity
Another company realizing the power of NFTs for the community is Women Rise. Women Rise was started by internationally acclaimed artist Malina Abidi. Using her talents, Abidi created 10,000 randomly generated unique NFT art pieces that users can own to promote more diversity within the metaverse space. The NFTs include over 453 different hand-drawn traits, ranging from background to skin color. While Women Rise was only launched on November 4, 2021, it has already sold out of all 10,000 NFTs and has made debuts in media outlets like the Guardian and Rolling Stone. The company is currently working on its next big project which will involve Blockchain.
Meta Angels is another company that is woman-run and uses NFTs to promote diversity. Cofounded by Alex Cavoulacos and Allyson Downey, the company sells NFTS made by Māori-Australian artist Sarana Haeata. Each NFT is themed as a different type of angel, from wild angels to elemental angels. The collection spans to include over 10,000 NFTS, available on Open Sea. “I was thinking about all the doors that have been opened to me because of hard work,” Downey said. “Those doors aren’t open for 99% of people. What if there’s a way to use membership components of NFTs to blow the doors off of these gated communities. Maybe we have the opportunity to offer access regardless of socioeconomic status.”
Within this growing ecosystem, there are also companies looking to finance women-run companies. One of these companies is Gamechangers, the first women-led DAO designed to finance women-run startups. “This is being built as we speak,” explained co-founder Melissa Romero. “In other words, there is no glass ceiling, there is no seat at the table you have to be invited for; come and help shape together what this future looks like.” Gamechangers’ website features over 10,000 entrepreneurs, making sure they can sell NFTS and get a fair profit for their work.
The initial success that many of these companies have seen. Will hopefully lead to important discussions about inclusivity and diversity within the metaverse community. Hopefully, other companies, woman-run or not, will work to help better the virtual community. In order to make the future a brighter place.