Published on March 1, 2023 by Diamond Nunnally  
Danielle NCA Award
Courtesy: Danielle Deavours
Communication and Media (CAM) Assistant Professor Danielle Deavours never intended to research virtual reality (VR) gaming when she began immersing herself in its computer-generated worlds competitively last summer. However, when interacting with the players in this male-dominated industry, she experienced harassment and misogyny. That's when she began documenting her experiences for research, resulting in an award for her autoethnography, “Virtual Allies: Why Allyship is Critical to Diversification of Virtual Reality Gaming,” from the Broadcast Education Association Immersive Media and Emerging Technology Division in April 2023.  

"I worked with other minority gamers, including racial minorities, LGBTQ+ and other women, to form supportive allyships that improved the gaming experience," Deavours said. "I addressed ways VR platforms can create these relationships within game design to support safer environments for minorities." 

But that's not all. Deavours won two other awards during the 2022-2023 academic school year; one for her paper "Weathergirl": The Symbolic Annihilation of Women Broadcast Meteorologists,” addressing the gender gap and stereotypes faced by women broadcast meteorologists from the Broadcast Education Association Gender & Sexuality Division in April 2023; and another from the National Communication Association Nonverbal Communication Division called “Broadcasters' Nonverbal Neutrality in Crisis Coverage,” examining how broadcast journalists can maintain neutrality standards nonverbally during the coverage of shootings in November 2022.  

"I'm so humbled by these awards," Deavours said. "I'm honestly still shocked to have my work accepted at this level. As a newer faculty member, I often face insecurity and doubt about my work. I even considered not submitting my VR paper because I had never done an autoethnography before and felt out of my depth. But, thanks to the encouragement from my colleague Niya Pickett-Miller, I submitted it and then received this award. It's a great reminder for all of us to believe in ourselves and keep pushing to have our voices heard."  

Having spent hours researching, interviewing and collaborating with different groups to conduct her research, Deavours said her main goal as a media sociologist and former television producer is to expose the inequities and injustices of media industries to make it better for her students when they enter the field.  

"I personally experienced discrimination, harassment and physical threats while in the field due to my gender and disability," Deavours said. "Yet this inequity is rarely addressed by journalists and researchers, allowing bias, harassment and misogyny to continue. I believe revealing and examining the narratives of people who have experienced these hardships allows researchers to identify barriers and work toward potential solutions."  

Deavours joined Samford in August 2022. Prior to this, she worked as an Emmy and Murrow award-winning executive producer at three local TV stations. She’s also worked in nonprofit public relations for organizations like the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, and UAB Medicine. 

Danielle Deavours bio. 

Learn more about the Department of Communication and Media. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.