When you look broadly across the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), women have made tremendous gains in the decades since I entered undergraduate school. This is excellent – there is simply no reason women shouldn’t have equal representation … so long as the opportunity is equal and fair.
But there are some areas where women are terribly under-represented – and not just at higher levels, but at all levels. This article talks about the hostile environment at Goldman Sachs, but recently there has been a great deal of discussion about the lack of women in game design and development.
Gaming, like the computer industry in general, started in a very male-dominated industry and therefore remained male-centric for a long time. But today, it is estimated that nearly HALF of gamers are women – and these are not just girls playing Nintendogs on the DS, Angry Birds on a smartphone, or ‘Agatha Christie Mysteries’ hidden object games on the PC. No, and while I have had female gamer friends since playing Jedi Knight multiplayer 15 years ago, today you can expect to play against women regardless of the game or genre.
Yet in 2006 there was a survey that showed that even then, as the female gamer population was almost 40%, the game industry employed only 12% women! Pretty bad … but wait, because it gets worse! In a recent survey, women account for merely 6% of game industry jobs! So as the pool of engineering graduates has become increasingly female, the gaming industry has become increasingly male … and why correlation is not causation, it seems like something is amiss!
So there was an article about the situation, and Game Developer Luke Crane asked about it on Twitter … and it exploded. A new hashtag #1ReasonWhy calls for responses about WHY women gamers and developers would feel put off by the industry, and it has really taken off.
•Because when I tell people what I do for a living, they still say, “But you don’t actually play games, right?”
•Because we still have people saying, on a daily basis, that sexism will go away if we just stop talking about it.
•Because when a fellow games student from my university comments on my articles, he says that I should stop whining and just accept that games journalism is a boys’ club – even though I’ve gotten far further in my games journalism career than he ever did.
•Because when I tell the PR rep I want to look at AAA console games, he takes me to the pink Facebook games anyway.
•Because I’m told to “stand up for myself” – and then, when I do something like this, I’m dismissed.
There are some amazing posts on Twitter, as well as cool blog posts linked. There are also some disgusting examples of brazen sexism and misogyny … so typical of internet comments.
Head to the articles for more info, and to Twitter to follow the discussion! And let us know what you think!