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Women and the Video Game Industry

When I was in graduate school, my assistantship was in academic advising, working with students majoring in computer science, math, and physical sciences. It pretty much goes without saying that I worked primarily with male students. By far, the largest major in the college was computer science and a lot of the time, when I asked our students why they were interested in computer science I got one answer: video games. Some of them were serious gamers and others just really enjoyed it and this led them to a major in computer science, with the hope of working for a video game company. I thought of that when I read this Jezebel post about women and the world of video games, highlighting an article from the LA Times.

The article’s title tells a large chunk of the tale: “Women left on sidelines in video game revolution.” The news isn’t good:

“They comprise fewer than 1 in 5 workers in the business, according to a 2007 survey by Game Developer Magazine. Among game programmers, the number is a paltry 3%. Those who do land game-related jobs make less money on average than their male counterparts.”

The whole article is really interesting and touches on a range of topics: girls and video games, women in computer science, heavy work schedules, and a boy’s club atmosphere at gaming companies that has included strippers as part of the recruiting process. No, I’m not kidding about that last one – I really wish I was.

Pat has often said that helping women helps men too and the original Jezebel.com post that led me to the article reinforces that message. The LA Times article noted that the time commitment often required in the gaming industry aren’t particularly family friendly and the folks at Jezebel note:

“If women really are less willing to put in twelve hours, seven days a week, maybe game companies should take it as a sign that such a system really isn't healthy for anyone.”

One last thing to highlight from the article, I learned about a new book that sounds pretty cool - Beyond Barbie® and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming .

Although boys outnumber girls in terms of playing video games daily, the overall numbers show that 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games. Hopefully that will translate into more girls walking into my old office as computer science majors.

On an entirely different note - FairerScience wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!