Gaming and esports have become a multibillion-dollar industry, with investment opportunities, new career paths, and innovation popping up around every corner. Beyond the elite top players, every skill set and background imaginable is being put to use in this sector. So, where do women fit in this burgeoning enterprise?
Women in Gaming Face the Same Challenges as I did in Banking
Listening to a panel hosted by Women in Games, I was struck with how the parity issues spoken about mirrored exactly what I experienced in the corporate world, including gender discrimination, exploitation, bullying, and harassment. And while much work still needs to be done in all sectors of society, I think it is important to share some prescriptive thoughts on what specifically can be done in the gaming and esports world.
Advance More Women into C-Suite/Director Level Positions
The number of women in gaming is on the rise. Why wouldn’t the industry want to ensure it is adequately structured to serve this growing consumer segment?
Having women at the top will provide valuable insights into the rich complexity of the female gaming population, the same reasoning I use when advocating for more funding to go to female start up founders. Women control the vast majority of household spending decisions. Female founders intuitively know how to tap into that decision matrix.
While the gaming industry is making some progress in terms of attracting more women into a career in this sector, it is still very much lacking in terms of women taking director or C-Suite level positions. In the long run, the more women there are at the top, the greater chance there is that they will extend a hand to upcoming talent. But first there needs to be a pipeline of qualified women. It all starts with the first rung of the ladder. Begin by looking at your recent hiring history and start setting targets.
Mentoring Programs are Key
Start young. Mentoring should start at an early age. Girls need role models. Schools can help. When girls see people who look like them and have access to those with shared aspirations, they engage better with their learning and build wider networks. Educators can foster initiatives that connect students with women and mentors in gaming. There are many virtual ed tech tools, and mentors can be found throughout the world.
Amy Allison, who writes about Girl Scouts and gaming, helped introduce the concept of a ‘gaming’ patch. The patch is awarded to Girl Scout members who learn how to design video games. It also requires them to program the games, rather than just design them.
Amplify Success Stories
The contributing authors to my book, Changing the Game, have been tapped for their insights, but I had another ulterior motive. They are also there as examples of individuals with all types of backgrounds who have entered esports/gaming and are thriving in what they do. Among them are a dozen women who have a story to tell. Having a spotlight shone on a specific individual or company does more than provide good PR. Going forward, it may spark an idea for a new career or business opportunity.
Perhaps an investor now has you on their radar for the future. Say ‘yes’ to public speaking. Say ‘yes’ to being interviewed for media. And say ‘yes’ to writing an Op-Ed piece.
We Always Need Male Champions
Men can play a critical role in bringing more women into the gaming/esports arena. They should step up to change the status quo with proactive business practices that prioritize women’s career paths and set them up to thrive in tech. Men should also be mentoring the next generation of female talent.
One area is sponsorship. If you are a senior team member, you can seek out opportunities for women and advocate for them. Highlight their qualifications and why, specifically, they are a fit for an opportunity. This will help women climb the corporate ladder and result in more women in gaming.
More women in leadership in games will make a huge difference in attracting and retaining women in the industry. The goal should be focused on ensuring studios and other companies in games become more welcoming and attractive places. These are the workplaces of the future. Let’s not operate like the workplaces of the past.
This guest post was authored by Lucy Chow
Lucy Chow is a future-focused thought leader and author of Changing the Game: Discover how Esports and Gaming are Redefining Business, Careers, Education and The Future is available on all distribution platforms now. You can follow her on Instagram here. Learn more at www.lucychowauthor.com .
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