There ARE too few women in games

At the Games Horizon event in Newcastle yesterday I watched an uncomfortable session when Chi Onwurah MP spoke about women (or rather, lack of them) in the games industry.  The hostility towards her was understandable because she appeared to be scolding.  But the substance of her arguments was right.

[Full disclosure – I am married to a senior pay-tv executive who has her girlpower moments.]

There ARE too few women in games.  If the Sorting Hat was choosing career paths for kids based on raw talent and potential, I figure a fair proportion (half?) of those directed towards games would be girls.  There would be many benefits of increasing the proportion of females – new perspectives, broader understanding of players, industry events wouldn’t be such sausagefests etc.  But chief amongst them would simply be that the average quality of the workforce would increase.

This is mostly a supply-side issue, and Chi acknowledged this.  It’s difficult to recruit women into the industry if they don’t apply for the jobs and/or have the right experience and skills.  So education and other influences in childhood lie at the root of the solution.

But…the sector has a responsibility to contribute by making itself more welcoming to women.  This is not about major changes, because things already seem pretty meritocratic.  It’s about the little things that shift us from ‘neutral’ to ‘encouraging’ – like how job adverts are drafted, and celebrating female role-models, and making accommodating adjustments to working environments.   And maybe cutting the Rt Hon MP for Newcastle some slack.

  • John Griffin

    Hard to argue with the logic here. Just felt like we were being blamed a little (something I had the pleasure of bringing up with Rt Hon MP herself) whereas the problem really starts much much earlier … in schools. That said, i agree … we can always do more to make our industry more attractive to women. Like going out and trying to hire some is a good start.

  • FG

    I would bring down to very simple biological attributes. Man crave for competition. Women for seduction… Pretty simple why games attract boys. Women may get into games, when it’s about dressing up a doll 😉

    • John Griffin

      ah … but did you know that over half of all gamers on Facebook are women?

      (for the record, neither the author nor John G support the doll comment)

    • Lena

      You’re not serious, are you? I know plenty of women who play games that aren’t about dolls. In fact, almost all the lady friends I have on steam, have come from first person shooters.

      And for myself, video games range from Dragon Age, Minecraft, TF2, and Battlefield 3. All of which are not dressing up a doll.

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