Women in gaming

11 09 2009

This won’t be a particularly long blog.  This is not a subject I can write with much authority on – as I’m not a woman. Rather my observations are linked to my ‘day’ job. 

I’ve had to deal with diversity all of my working life (as I work in HR).  I’m not talking about political correctness (although that plays a part).  I’m talking about being fair and equitable to all.  For by being inclusive, we get the best possible outcome.  Exclusion leads to a lack of diversity and eventually weakness.

But this isn’t a political speech.  Rather, it’s about the lack of women in gaming.  Years ago, I was with an auditor that noticed that most of the people in finance, sales and marketing were  women and the design and R&D teams were all men.

I countered that most of these roles were filled internally and as we had an equal opportunities policy, anyone could apply for any role.  I reviewed the stats on the subject and reported that few women applied for the techie roles and few men applied for the more office roles. 

The auditor responded with a question that has guided my thoughts on the subject ever since.  “But why do so few women apply for these roles and men for those roles?”

The implication is that, although women were welcome to apply to work in design, there was something about the culture of the department that dissuaded them.

Which brings me back to role-playing.  Are there so few women in role-playing because they have absolutely no interest – or because they don’t feel welcome.  As I gaze at my bookshelf, I see as many female authors as male writing fantasy novels. 

I think – believe – that many potential female gamers are put off because of the culture of role-playing, rather than because they’re not interested.  Just look at the way women are portrayed in role-playing books to help you understand that argument.  Why does every female character have to be scantily clad?

Do we owe half the population a better chance to role-play?  Yes.  Will we act on that responsibility?  Probably not.

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