Live in Their World came into being through the work of Dr. Robin Rosenberg, Ph.D., whose professional curiosity and clinical practice drew her towards the burgeoning field of virtual reality (VR) about 25 years ago. Robin followed the psychology of virtual reality literature for years, and then collaborated on research about VR.
At the same time, the world was hearing about the frequency of young Black people being killed by white people, including police (2012 on), which led to a surge in focusing on challenges in diversity and Black Lives Matter. In turn this led some white people to say “all lives matter.” Through her work as a psychologist, she hypothesized that if white people could get enough of a sense of a Black person’s lived experience, they would understand what the statement Black Lives Matter really means and, in turn, wouldn’t say “all lives matter.”
She began the research in 2018: Men experienced, from the perspective of a 35-year-old white woman, various work situations in which there was gender bias or incivility. After the VR training experience, users could more accurately identify workplace situations where there is a gender-related issue and have decreased stereotypic responses about women and work (on the Gender-Career Implicit Association Test). In addition to these meaningful, statistically significant results, users gave qualitative feedback, including:
“This is much more impactful because it immerses you in the experience… it actually gets uncomfortable at times.”
“I could actually feel the anger and confusion that these situations produce.”
“By having a demonstration and commentary on exactly the parts of a conversation or experience that feel most demeaning or offensive, it makes someone else's lived experience harder to deny.”
Live in Their World now offers several tracks based on the typical workplace experiences of people from various demographic groups , including Black men as originally envisioned, as well as sexual harassment prevention and leadership skills for civility. The program can be done remotely, and the virtual reality experience can be delivered to employees through an immersive video experience on a computer, a mobile VR experience, or an Oculus headset at a company’s workplace.
"This is much more impactful because it immerses you in the experience… it actually gets uncomfortable at times.”
Robin hypothesized that if White people got enough of a sense of a Black person’s lived experience, they would understand what the statement Black Lives Matter really means
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It wasn’t until early 2018 , when the Oculus Go VR headset was in the works and soon to be released, that VR technology made the idea feasible. That timing coincided with the rise of the #MeToo movement. Rob Hutter of Learn Capital had heard Robin’s idea earlier on, and in 2018 offered to fund a proof-of-concept study to see whether her idea could move the needle on gender bias and awareness.
Live In Their World is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the US. The federal government provides tax incentives to those who conduct business with minority and women-owned businesses. Benefits and incentives vary based on individual state programs. Live in Their World is also now certified as a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), qualifying for relevant federal government contracts.
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