Men - this virtual reality film could help you finally understand why women hate mansplaining so much.

The short VR movie, called Hurried Meeting, highlights misogynistic micro-aggressive behaviour in the workplace. Yasmine Boudiaf, founder of Serious Datum, which creates behaviour-changing virtual reality experiences, hopes the film can be used as a tool to change such antisocial behaviour in men.

Boudiaf began to research the effect of 'micro-aggressions', such as mansplaining or interrupting, by talking to women she knew, mostly in the tech industry or big corporate companies.

She said: "It stems from my personal experiences as a woman and an ethnic minority who is trying to set up a legitimate business. I found that in dialogues with people, particularly in tech but also generally, I felt that I wasn't being taken seriously and was quite patronised whereas if I was with a guy they would just talk to them.

"I thought that I was being a bit sensitive about it all but I started talking to friends and colleagues who are in my network and they kept coming up with the same stories."

Boudiaf has recently started going into workplaces for small group training with the VR film. It allows men to sit in a woman's place at an office meeting and experience their ideas being dismissed or stolen and while they are treated as a more junior member of staff.

The group discusses implicit bias before watching the video and trying to count how many micro-aggressions they experience.

"Usually, women notice all of them and the guys only become aware of them after we've told them," Boudiaf said.

"I try to create a safe and open environment where people can ask questions about what is and isn't appropriate, which varies from team to team and woman to woman, and for people to voice what they feel is inappropriate."

No one is perfect, Boudiaf said, but she wants to highlight that everyone has implicit biases and everyone can improve behaviour around their colleagues.

But although micro-aggressions and mansplaining may seem minor to some, to others it can lead to them feeling forced out of their jobs or sidelined from the conversation.

"I felt women weren't believed and men were completely blind to it. But if it was important enough to have women have their self-esteem lowered and sometimes even leave their job then it needs to be addressed somehow," Boudiaf said.

After running the first few training sessions, Boudiaf said men were responding overwhelmingly well.

"I didn't know that that sort of behaviour makes somebody feel like that," or "now that I see it from a woman's perspective I do see how that's problematic" were among the comments she received.

But the type of men who agree to take part in the voluntary session are "generally not the ones who are the problem".

Micro-aggressions seen in the video and their implications:

  • Asking the woman to take notes - assuming the woman present is the junior staff member, has an administrative role and would not mind taking notes.
  • Automatically dismissing the woman's suggestion - useful ideas are less likely to come from a woman.
  • Dismissive body language including sighing and crossing arms - whatever the woman suggests will be wrong.
  • Interrupting - what the man has to say is more important.
  • Claiming a woman's idea as your own - she has no ownership over her ideas.
  • Men agreeing with each other and not the woman - male solidarity not stretching to a female colleague.
  • Patronising explanation/mansplaining - the woman is not clever enough to understand the complexities of the argument.