A Call to Collaboration

By April Boyd-Noronha

When I think about the historical reference of the word “collaborate,” for the most part this word centers around family and a home setting.  This recollection is probably true for most of us, especially womxn, as traditionally we have been herded towards positions and roles that are highly centered on collaboration.  I’m not saying that collaboration is a negative concept in and of itself.  What I want to focus on in this article is the fact that this is the time and place for people, especially womxn, to leverage the lived experiences of collaboration that we instinctively have successfully navigated for many years.  I’d like to bring your attention to three particular instances where womxn are now uniquely positioned to better leverage the concept of collaboration on a higher level. Equally important is understanding that ultimately this concept serves as a foundational component for systemic change at its very core. These instances are: 1) call to action, 2) call to advocacy, and 3) call to allyship.

We are familiar with these basic words (action, advocate, and ally), yet the more pressing point is that in this era like none before - in comparison to the Progressive Era (1913 Women’s Suffrage Movement) or even the Civil Rights Era (starting in the 1950s) - women are well positioned at the helm of leadership and innovation across many industries and in varied roles (many that they themselves created).

Call to Action – It made perfect sense when reported that the nations that dealt most effectively with the COVID-19 outbreak were led by women: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, and Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan. These global leaders deserve world praise for their consistent collaboration, due diligence, and strategic fortitude to prevent a full national lockdown while attempting to contain the virus. This is the epitome of responding to a call to action where it means life or death consequences.

Call to Advocacy – We all know that the political arena has never been too kind or openly welcoming for women, as reported repeatedly by many former and current policy makers.  This is why the story of Stacey Abrams’ rise from defeat (Democratic Georgia gubernatorial) to shifting the narrative of a nation - quite literally - is a story for the history books. Through the grassroots voting initiatives of her non-profit, Fair Fight, she led the movement that caused a monumental change in the political landscape of our nation. One voter at a time. One community at a time.  Her seemingly failed opportunity fueled her passion to be a force to be reckoned with – through advocacy and collaborative community outreach like we’ve never seen before. Abrams gave us the ultimate blueprint on wielding your power through a call to advocacy.

Call to Allyship –Who doesn’t know the name of our newly elected Madam Vice President, Kamala Harris? Regardless of your political affiliation, much respect is due for her breaking the glass ceiling to step into her rightful place as the first female and woman of color to hold such a role in American politics.  Women both across the nation and across many ethnicities raised her up to achieve milestones in politics, which in turn, ups the ante and raises the bar that much higher for girls, women, and non-binary persons around the world. Many womxn in power and leadership (yes, they are two different things) understand the responsibility of a call to allyship, in the spirit of consistent collaboration as they climb in status and earn their rightful seat at the table, with full authority, in their respective careers and roles. Mostly because we are fully aware that those who have blazed the trail before us paid the price that enables you to now rise and soar even more than they. 

File:Shirley Chisholm.jpg
Shirley Chisholm. U.S. News and World Report Collection, Library of Congress. CC0 1.0 Universal. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Case in point, Kamala Harris stands on the shoulders of Shirley Chisholm (first Black female to seek the presidential nomination in 1972), Barbara Jordan (first African American elected to Texas Senate after Reconstruction and first Southern African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives) and Hilary Clinton (the most recent female to run for presidential election in 2016). As the adage goes, “to whom much is given, much is required.”  There is no greater honor in this than to actively be an ally for others, especially womxn of color and/or historically marginalized populations.

For such a time as this. Now is the acceptable time to leverage our collective power and positions in order to do the right thing in the name of collaboration.  I’ve given you the blueprint through the lived experiences of both former and current women trailblazers. Now you must choose to pick up the mantle (of collaboration) and accept your (self) appointed role in the call to action, call to advocacy, and call to allyship.

Collaboration is at the core of how the CyberXR Coalition operates, especially while successfully launching industry-wide standards on immersive technology and privacy (Download our guide at https://cyberxr.org/research-and-standards).  To ensure a more authentic level of collaboration, we selected founding members of diverse voices from around the world who are deeply committed to helping build a safer and more diverse XR ecosystem.  Equally important, we not only stand on the principles of diversity and global representation, but also actively addressing inclusion in XR and emerging tech industries where the need to embrace marginalized populations is at its greatest.  It is only through innovative and intentional collaboration that the CyberXR Coalition continues to lead the narrative and shift mindsets on the need for an inclusive and diverse XR ecosystem for all.

April Boyd-Noronha is President of the Cyber XR Coalition.