Using Augmented Reality to Explore Gender and Power Dynamics in STEM Higher Education

Nelli Holopainen, Alessandro Soro, Margot Brereton

Session: Dignity and Emerging Systems - Wednesday 2022-11-30 11:00-12:20 AEDT
Paper Track
In-Person Presentation


We report on results from a pilot study that used Augmented Reality (AR) to explore gender and power dynamics in STEM Higher Education. The so called “leaky pipeline”, affecting retention and recruitment of women in higher education fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is a well-documented issue. We conducted a co-design workshop with six academics, asking to reflect on an AR storyboard prototype, discuss aspects of personal and professional identity, and imagine alternative endings for the storyboard. The storyboard depicted a hypothetical workplace conflict involving an episode of gender-based discrimination. Participants collaboratively imagined possible responses to the situation depicted using a combination of paper-prototyping and open discussions. The found themes were that 1) reflecting on personal identities can drive empathy and understanding for others; 2) co-creating the AR experiences was an engaging way of scaff¬¬olding these reflections, and 3) the co-created AR prototypes offered constructive and community-centred approaches to supporting diversity. We contribute a preliminary format for an identity-based AR co-creation workshop and opportunities for applying AR to support dialogue on gender and power dynamics.