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Changing the Stereotype
by Mare Sheppard on 03/05/12 11:46:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Many of us want to encourage more diversity in the games industry, and one of the ways people try to do that is through Women in Games Initiatives. But the problem with Women in Games initiatives and other similar programs is that they tend to address the symptoms of inequality in our culture, but not the systemic problems beneath them. When we run those types of initiatives, we are creating pressure release valves, band-aids, because it is easier and because it provides an instantly gratifying sense of satisfaction that we are getting something done.

But these initiatives are exclusive by their nature, and promote segregation, so they leave room for the problems they are trying to solve to continue to exist. It would be better to focus our efforts on more inclusive initiatives, and on changing the culture of game development so more women feel inclined to join naturally. And the good news is, it's already changing; we need to draw attention to that, and raise awareness so the changes continue to propagate.

One reason for the underrepresentation of women in the games industry is that women often perceive a lack of fit when they compare themselves to the traditional computer-science major/computer programmer (the stereotype is that this person is male, overweight, nerdy, geeky, a star trek fan,  one who eats a lot of junk food, lives in their parents' basement, who is bespectacled, snooty, prejudiced and socially awkward) (Cheryan et al., 2009). It's likely that many men find that stereotype off-putting as well.

But it wasn't always that way. In the 1960s, programming was thought of as a great fit for women, requiring "lots of patience, persistence and a capacity for detail, and those are traits many girls have"[i].  A lot of our current knowledge was built on the backs of many women programmers, such as Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Dana Ulery, Jean E Sammet, Lillian Schwartz and Laurie Spiegel, to name just a few. There are hundreds of women who have contributed in extremely important ways to shape the development of the computer programming field.

So how did we get to this point? The stereotype began to change in the 1980s as more men rose up the ranks and made big, well-publicized gains (think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs), drawing attention to the cachet that could be associated with this job, which was previously seen as mundane. Movies and pop culture began to reflect that, more and more men looked to programming as a career, and just like that, the stereotype changed.

Now we look fondly back to the 1980s and see only these giants who have shaped our modern computer science  and game development culture -- they have eclipsed their equally important predecessors. Having a large amount of reverence for the past correlates with an attitude which is slow and unwilling to change. In addition, the longer we stay the same, the belief that we shouldn't change grows stronger, our affiliation for the way things and people are increases, and it becomes harder overall to change without a catalyst.

This is important when you consider that we need to change the stereotype again. At modern conferences and events, we can see that  game developers are far more diverse than the stereotype suggests. That's not as well known outside of our industry, so the stereotype remains in popular culture. And yet, we need to go further still, to increase the amount of diversity in this field.

Why? When there is a diversity of opinion, it often leads to intellectual conflict, which sounds potentially bad, but isn't: that leads to a direct increase in the quality of debates and the most action and creative output.  That's great for teams and is great for our games as well.

Studies show that different types of teams have different specialties: Diverse teams are more likely to excel at tasks involving innovation and exploration of new opportunities, whereas homogenous teams are better at exploitation and implementation of what is known (Mannix & Neale, 2005). Both types can function in either role competently, but diverse teams are better creative teams, and homogenous teams are better at executing fully-realized tasks.

We know the game development industry is made up of generally homogenous teams, and that the AAA industry tends to gravitate towards sequels and derivative works. We can't say for sure that this business model determined team constitution, or if team constitution has determined the business model. But we can say that this is not the only successful business strategy or system that makes money.

If we want to explore new business models, and atypical and divergent ideas, this static industry needs a jumpstart, and that can come in the form of more diversity. If you value novelty, originality or exploring the possibility space of gameplay, diversity helps and that's why you should care.

One way we can attract a more diverse set of applicants is to repackage the idea of the field of game development so it's not so polarizing. "Personality traits which are typical of a given profession often are mistakenly thought to be necessary to the practice of the profession" (Spelke and Grace, 2006) -- but you don't need to be a geek to work here.

Surely you read, play or compose music, write, watch tv, enjoy sports, create art or craft, work with people or animals, have hobbies, or more generally pursue other goals outside of the game development world. If you have a devblog, why not devote some posts to your other interests?

These other interests are what filter in and keep our games interesting and unique, so talking about them makes sense in the context of development. It also helps reshape the traditional image into a more well-rounded and accurate one (Blum & Frieze, 2005), which assists unsure outsiders see that we are more than just stereotypes.

If you are hiring, pursue a gender-neutral environment that strikes a balance between action figures, game merchandise & comics, and plants, graphic art & minimalist clean lines. Show people a space that treats them as equal, allows them to bring their own personality, rather than asking them to fit into a less broadly defined and potentially limiting architecture (Cheryan et al., 2009). Also, it's possible to circumvent bias by examining applications and resumes without names or indication of biological sex attached. We often unconsciously assume that stereotyped behaviour or traits are required for some jobs[ii] [iii], but if we make our decisions based on qualifications alone, this bias disappears.

We also need more, and more visible, role models. Aside from being inspirational, there is evidence that visible role models will eventually help change gender stereotypes over time[iv]. Lagesen (2007)[v] conducted some interesting research, evaluating "which of four inter-related ways to attract more women to pursue and receive degrees in computer science was more successful.

The first addressed problematic aspects of the hacker culture and weaknesses in teaching, by arguing for educational reform. The second was concerned with the lack of a critical mass of women students. The third argued the need to alter the ‘masculine’ image of computer science. The fourth took its point of departure from feminist critiques of techno-science and addressed the need to change the content of computer science to accommodate women’s interests.

The main efforts concerned the second and third strategies, where there was an effort to create a critical mass through quota and through advertising campaigns to change the representation of computer science from technical (masculine) to more social (feminine). The increase of the number of female students resulted in a fundamental change in the social environment which became more attractive for women when they weren’t a minority anymore."

The conclusions drawn are that that the gendered image problem in computer science can't be changed only through efforts to critique and redefine it. Taking measures that provide more role models to change the manifest appearance of gender is also crucial in effecting lasting change. A combination of both techniques helps change disseminate faster.

The idea of a meritocracy is key in moving towards a game development industry that is as fair and welcoming as possible for all people. It's a good thing to attract new ideas and new people, because that will keep this industry fresh and vibrant, and prevent it from becoming an echo chamber.

But it's important to note that the problem of lack of diversity will not be solved by throwing women or other minorities at it. It's not about numbers. What this industry really needs is more creative and passionate individuals who are enthusiastic and talented and love what they do, inclusive of all genders, races, ages, sexualities, social statuses etc. We need to focus more on skill and talent and less on the value of categories to find them.

 

For more, see:

Fine, Cordelia. A Mind of Its Own. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006.

Fine, Cordelia. Delusions of Gender. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

Gender Stereotypes and Gender Attitudes in the Assessment of Women’s Work



[i] I.J. Seligsohn, Your Career in Computer Programming, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967.

[ii] Heilman, M.E. (2001).  Description and prescription: How gender stereotypes prevent women’s ascent up the organizational ladder.  Journal of Social Issues, 57, 657-674.

[iii] Uhlmann, E., & Cohen, G. L. (2005). Constructed criteria: Redefining merit to justify discrimination. Psychological Science, 16, 474-480.

[iv] Dasgupta, N., & Asgari, S. (2004). Seeing is believing: Exposure to counterstereotypic women leaders and its effect on automatic gender stereotyping. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 642-658.

[v] Lagesen V. A. (2007) The Strength of Numbers: Strategies to Include Women into Computer Science, Social Studies of Science, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 67-92.


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Comments


Omar Gonzalez
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Couldn't agree more with you. I have no idea why is this such a male oriented field thou, nor how to improve the situation.

Only thing I know for sure is my 27 Game Design classmates are males.

Evan Combs
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It is psychological. Women and men mentally are not the same, just like we aren't the same physically. In some ways men are superior and in other ways women are superior, but there are always exceptions going both ways. Typically though games and what goes into creating games are fields that women just typically aren't as interested in as men are. The result is you see a lot more men creating video games than woman, and a lot more games catered to men than woman. This is also why there are so many more women who are nurses, work at a daycare/babysit, or teach (at least pre-collegiate levels).

With the exception of art departments I really wouldn't expect there to be any huge increase in the amount of women in game development any time soon no matter how hard people try to get women into game development.

If all I have said turns out to be false, which is possible, there really isn't much we can actively do to get women into game development. It would just be something that would, more or less, have its own timetable, and all we can do is let it happen at its own natural pace.

Matt Cramp
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"Women and men mentally are not the same, just like we aren't the same physically."

Good work lumping all men and all women into two different baskets, then trying to claim the problem is that the psychology is just too *different*.

It seems much more likely that the skills required to be a good games designer are something that girls are steered away from for cultural reasons than it just being an innate thing that women don't have and men do, except those women that do and the vast majority of men that don't.

Evan Combs
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Good job taking one thing I said out of context.

Omar Gonzalez
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I have a previous degree in Architecture, a field that also merge Technology and Engineering with Creativity/Arts. There are plenty of women doing relevant contribution in that field, the same can be said about graphic/digital design, writing and so on.

I'm going to do a wild guess here: I hate to be "that guy" but perhaps smart females doesn't feel encourage to work in a "Teenage Power trip fantasy" such as Saints Row The Third.. or don't really want to spent their lives zBrushing Pumped up dudes in Gears of Wars. I know this is not the whole story of the game industry, but it is what the outside world perceive it to be.

Ben H
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"We can't say for sure that this business model determined team constitution, or if team constitution has determined the business model."

False dichotomy: they're not even necessarily causally related. It is entirely possible that the business model is not the determining factor in the team constitution, and it is entirely possible that the team constitution is not the determining factor in the business model.

"The fourth took its point of departure from feminist critiques of techno-science and addressed the need to change the content of computer science to accommodate women’s interests. [...] The idea of a meritocracy is key in moving towards a game development industry"

Does this not seem rather jarring to you too -- the idea that we can have both meritocracy and even vaguely consider the idea of deliberately tailoring a course to suit certain types of people more than others?

If women wish to enter games design then there should be no deliberate attempts to prevent them from doing so, but making active attempts to make women more included in a field merely results in women being seen as incapable of breaking into a field without outside assistance. It's unfortunate that almost all of the studies used here make the basic mistake present in so much research into the interaction between gender roles and business: seeing a discrepancy between the sexes and then assuming that discrimination must be the cause (or redefining the term ad hoc so that even mild personality differences can be portrayed as discrimination).

Far and away, this post's biggest problem is that its entire argument rests on the idea that increased diversity leads to better products, in evidence of which it cites Mannix and Neale, yet Mannix and Neale say nothing of the sort, rather their study specifically contradicts the idea of seeking out particular common minorities as a source of informational diversity:

"The optimistic view holds that diversity will lead to an increase in the variety of perspectives and approaches brought to a problem and to opportunities for knowledge sharing, and hence lead to greater creativity and quality of team performance. However, the preponderance of the evidence favors a more pessimistic view: that diversity creates social divisions, which in turn create negative performance outcomes for the group. [...] As we disentangle what researchers have learned from the last 50 years, we can conclude that surface-level social-category differences, such as those of race/ethnicity, gender, or age, tend to be more likely to have negative effects on the ability of groups to function effectively."

In short? I'm calling malarky on this post.

Adam Bishop
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"It's unfortunate that almost all of the studies used here make the basic mistake present in so much research into the interaction between gender roles and business: seeing a discrepancy between the sexes and then assuming that discrimination must be the cause"

There's no need to imagine such a thing in the games industry. I've worked in it and witnessed vicious sexism and sexual harassment that I've never witnessed in any other walk of life. I've also spoken to women working for other companies who've repeated similar stories. I can't say that those kinds of outwardly hostile attitudes are present at every studio (I certainly hope that they're not), but I've seen enough evidence to believe that it's a problem at a significant number of studios.

There's also the way that women who are interested in games are treated generally within the "core" gaming community. Anyone who's ever visited a game forum or played games online has seen exactly what I'm talking about. Women are constantly made to feel unwelcome when they try to become a part of broader gaming communities. One obvious recent example of this is from Capcom's Cross Assault reality show, where the captain of one team openly stated that sexism is a part of the fighting game community and that people shouldn't try to get rid of it (http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/sexual-haras
sment-as-ethical-imperative-the-ugly-side-of-fighting-games).

So there's no need to assume anything about discrimination - the evidence is already very strong.

Luis Guimaraes
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Women are very smart and their brains are like kid's brains in the sense they're sponges that absorb anything complete that can get their attention. So it's also a possibility that more women will come after Game Design has become a science already (thou AI would just replace human designers if that ever happened, anyway).

The majority just lack that natural pathfinding drive, that is the main reason technology is what it is today (and I mean it as a compliment for everyone that though "no you're wrong" when read it).

Women are equally capable, yet I'd say more capable in this sens, I'd hire only women if it was possible (arguably, the smartest and the dumbest persons on earth and both males), but you need men in the positions that negotiate between women if you want a healthy working environment.

Also, Game Development is mostly cooperative rather than competitive, there's a huge amount of women in law and sales (alright maybe not in your country) and literature.

But, the answer is also about questing ourselves about what made us want to become game developers? My bet is that many answers will be "a game".

But, please, don't be those parents that force their children which field to pursue.

Jon Ze
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"The conclusions drawn are that that the gendered image problem in computer science can't be changed only through efforts to critique and redefine it. Taking measures that provide more role models to change the manifest appearance of gender is also crucial in effecting lasting change."

The real question is - which nobody seems to fully address in these digressions - who are going to be the women that truly step up to the plate? If that statement sounds cold in the slightest, then you're still viewing this issue through the wrong lens.

It hasn't even been 10 years since it was widely, socially understood that pursuing a career in game development was dorky, geeky, or a childish, inconsequential path in life. However often you experienced this viewpoint directly, the pressure surrounding the situation was very real. This was oppression towards males, in a heavily male dominated industry. How many males at the time choose completely opposite career paths, sacrificing their true passion, simply to avoid the upward battle?

Fast-forward a short decade later, and the larger world view (er, North American view) has evolved. It's taken nearly this long for an alternative attitude to permeate into our culture.

What does the NEXT 10 years look like? Or, the next 5? You could look to Machinima as one prophecy, with more and more female commentators appearing on the scene. Female commentators that look, act, and speak like your average female 14-20somethings - but with an added passion in gaming. Gone are the days of "geek" being a necessary association, and in a rapidly accelerating parallel, gone is the "male" requirement.

These public female personalities are only the ones that we SEE right now. This says nothing about how many females are actually playing - and competing - in the same largely male-dominated genres. Their numbers are growing rapidly (especially in the younger crowd) and some of these females will follow their passion into a career. FACT: There are enough young females playing "hardcore" games today, that we will shortly see a huge influx of female talent. Why? These female gamers have one advantage over the previous generation: gaming has invaded and become widely accepted in their everyday culture. They'll have the confidence to take what they want, because they're not held back by the same social stigmas.

So who are going to be the women that truly step up to the plate?

This question doesn't address the future of female developers, but the NOW. Why are there so few females in our current generation willing to take the risk? We're in a clear transitionary period, and as a female you'll have to work that much harder to get the same recognition as your male counterparts. But, is this really that negative? Or is there a HUGE opportunity for females with real talent to be easily NOTICED right now? Who are the vocal pioneers that will LEAD and INSPIRE the coming generation?

Enough talk about how unfair things are, more action and influence please.

Joe Wreschnig
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"Enough talk about how unfair things are, more action and influence please."

There are two common errors in this statement, which is made in some form or another every time the topic of sexism in the games industry (or really, anywhere) comes up.

The first is that talking is not action, or that talking and action are mutually exclusive. Talking is an incredibly important part of action for social change. Furthermore, you can see simply by clicking her name that Mare Sheppard runs workshops training potential game developers as part of The Hand Eye Society's Difference Engine Initiative.

The second error is that it's somehow entirely the responsibility of the unprivileged class to stop the privileged class from under-privileging them. This idea is so fundamentally backwards I can't even begin to address it. It's like breaking someone's legs and then challenging them to a race.

Kenneth Blaney
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More women in their design is not the answer. Movies and television have been around for a while, but there is still a scant few shows out there that have "gotten" women. Even plenty of shows and movies written by women have either failed to represent women well or have just be out and out failures. To be honest, at this point I am not sure if there really is this major lack of women in the industry. (Women are probably under represented, but I'm not sure if there are many companies with a token female who is routinely voted down.)

Rather, I think the real problem is the same as with tv and movies. We are risk adverse and we simply don't know how to appeal to women. RomComs, for instance, are supposed to be movies "for women" but even many women don't like them because they are, for lack of a better word, "pink". Rather, what it would take for more diversity in the games we see is an increased demand for better games, and increased level of risk taking on the part of the industries in question and a deeper understanding of world cultures to write more convincing characters.

Adam Bishop
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"We are risk adverse and we simply don't know how to appeal to women."

But who is the "we" in this instance? It seems pretty intuitive that women would have a pretty good idea what it is they're interested in, so are you suggesting that *men* don't yet know how to appeal to women? Because if so, then getting more women into development would likely be a pretty good way to learn how to create products that women would be interested in.

Kenneth Blaney
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We is everyone. As a culture we don't know how to appeal to women. More women working in TV and movies hasn't helped, why would more women working in video games be the right answer?

"It seems pretty intuitive that women would have a pretty good idea what it is they're interested in"

It would, but its not. A woman may know what she is interested in, but that is not representative to what all women are interested in. If, in fact, she is interested in a "male dominated" industry like games, then it is more likely her interests would align with male interests. But this is not restricted to women... people, in general, are not good at figuring out why people make decisions, especially when they make choices that actively harm themselves. (Why do people still start smoking?)

Here is a perfect example. I work with a Fraternity to help with recruitment. The intuitive solution is that college aged guys, being college aged guys should be better than a non-college aged guy at selling our Fraternity to other college aged guys. However, they are generally very bad at it. This is generally because they get wrapped up in stuff related to the Fraternity. They overuse symbols, for instance, which have no meaning to those outside the Fraternity.

The solution here is not to simply throw a more diverse team at the problem and hope for the best. That team, although seemingly diverse, has a self selection bias which makes them less diverse in key areas.

Kenneth Blaney
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Case-in-point, Adam, the author of this article made "N". A great game to be sure, but one I would hardly say has any specific female appeal. "N" is good because talented people worked on it, not because of the genders of the team that worked on it.

Adam Bishop
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Here's a thought - every time a woman posts something on Gamasutra about trying to get more women involved in the gaming industry, a bunch of men show up in the comments to tell her that there's no problem with discrimination and the industry doesn't need more women (and it is only men, never women, who say these things). I wonder if maybe there's a lesson in there?

Eric McQuiggan
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Zack, I thought you were being ironic, then I read your next post.

Kate Craig
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I've been noticing the same, and it's discouraging, to say the least. The number of comments is always noticeably higher than an average post, and I rarely feel great after reading them.

Kenneth Blaney
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There is a difference between women being underrepresented (which they are) and women being unrepresented (which they are not). Additionally, there is little reason to suspect that the addition of more women into a development team, by itself, would lead to better quality products.

Adam Bishop
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"It's unfort

Adam Bishop
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"It's unfor

James Hofmann
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In college I had a chance to study some of the literature on the massive gender discrepancy in CS. I don't recall there being very strong conclusions about the reasons for this rise; however, some of the basic facts stuck in my mind. It seems reasonable to assume that the video game industry inherited this situation early on - and it doesn't help that gamedev has the reputation of being a meatgrinder!

Video gaming's relationship to the software field, fortunately, has generally become more tenuous as the barriers to entry have shifted away from a purely technical role. Software itself, when seen as a hobbyist pursuit, has grown into an immediate and gratifying medium(make a web page, add Javascript - great raw materials) which offers hope for software skills proliferating beyond the classroom. I also see hope for a vast increase in developer diversity via the rise of the indie scene, which defeats the "companies don't welcome women" problem by downsizing or eliminating the companies; but these advances still retain the problems of skill-building and community.

Although there are some positive-thinking gamedev communities around the internet now, a lot of them still tend towards that poisonous "tough guy" attitude that stops people from starting, and the small talk still tends to lean towards the locker room. They are pretty uniformly male-dominated. That's difficult stuff to resolve, and I think it can only be done one small battle at a time.

Paul Szczepanek
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I think some commenters haven't read the whole article and just jumped on the women in games bashing bandwagon.

Read the conclusion (again):
"But it's important to note that the problem of lack of diversity will not be solved by throwing women or other minorities at it. It's not about numbers. What this industry really needs is more creative and passionate individuals who are enthusiastic and talented and love what they do [...]."

This is the most sensible thing I've ever read on the topic.

Joe Wreschnig
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I think it's incredibly audacious for anyone to be arguing that sexism is not, or is no longer, a problem in game development given both Rush Limbaugh's recent comments showing the continued presence of sexism in our society at large, and the Cross Assault harassment, and the harassment of Jennifer Hepler within our community specifically. Not that sexism in our industry is reducible to a small number of specific incidents, but I think these stand out as recent, undeniable flashpoints that make the presence of sexism impossible to deny.

Ben, Evan, Techni, Zack, what kind of event *would* convince you that sexism exists in our community and industry, and in the broader society from which our community must draw its members, if not these? In the case of Cross Assault, the sexism wasn't even denied - It was instead "justified" as the community being necessarily and fundamentally sexist!

Bob Johnson
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Next up why aren't there more men in the scrapbooking industry. A man invented the printing press. And the camera. And paper. Now where are we? What happenened? How did scrap booking become dominated by women?

Btw, isn't the statement in the article that says programming would be a good fit for women ....sexist?

Joe Wreschnig
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"Btw, isn't the statement in the article that says programming would be a good fit for women ....sexist?"

I can't believe someone has to explain this, but the point of that quote isn't to say women are good at programming. It's to debunk statements like the one made in this thread by Evan Combs, "It is psychological. Women and men mentally are not the same, just like we aren't the same physically."

When programming was not a prestigious job, it was for women, because of "psychology." When it is a prestigious job, it's not for women, because of "psychology." I see a pattern here, but it's definitely not psychology.

(Actually, Mare invokes the statement to further make an even more subtle point about the image society-at-large has about game development and what that does to gender disparity, but it's obvious to me that people here aren't even grasping its basics.)

Bob Johnson
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That didn't explain anything. :)

Seems sexist to me to define a good candidate for a job as one sex or the other.

Or to attach "attention to detail" or "patience" to one sex or the other.

Not sexist or sexist is that line in the article?

Also be nice if some woman took up death row inmate inequality in Texas where only 9 of the 300 are women. :)

Evan Combs
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Joe, I never said women are not good at programming. I just said men and women are different. Men and women are interested in different things, and have different goals. Programming is something that women seem to have no interest in, it has nothing to do with prestige or that they wouldn't be good at it, they just typically have little to no interest. Like I said in my original post there are always exceptions.

Joe Wreschnig
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You won't get any argument from me that American prisons have a decidedly anti-male sexist bias in most sentencing.

However more germane to this discussion is probably how we've apparently failed teaching young men reading comprehension. Bob, you don't seem to understand the idea of invoking a quote to make a point other than the point the quote itself is making. And Evan, the entire first half of the article is debunking the idea that it's a matter of being "interested in different things."

Adam Bishop
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@ Bob

I would imagine that a post about whether or not the scrapbooking industry ought to have more men employed in it would be better suited for a scrapbooking industry web site. This is a video game industry web site, so it shouldn't be surprising when things that appear on it address issues relative to their importance to the game industry and not other, unrelated industries.

Gerald Belman
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I hate academic writing. Overcomplicated, verbose - doesn't ever get to the point.

Notice the the writer pointed out that there are not as many woman in the game industry as there are men - and then offered no concrete ways to change this.

In addition, does it really need to be changed? Do men and woman have to be exactly the same and have the exact same pay and employement percentage in every industry in the world? Isn't it reasonable to believe that some of these differences will continue to exist no matter how much gender equality we have in our society? Men and women are different - are they not? Is there anything wrong with these differences?

Isn't it possible that men and women are different (whether that be physically, genetically, physcologically or culturally) and that they have different interests not because of some conspiracy to keep then separate but just because that is the way things are. If you look at food foraging societies women tend to forage and men tend to hunt. (this is supported by archeological evidence btw). Is this necessarily bad?

Should we try to force women into the game industry? Should we try to force men out of the game industry to make room for more women?

Why aren't there more men in the nursing, clothing design or teaching industries? (actually the nursing industry is becoming much more diversified because many returning veterans with medical experience are going into nursing)

Best quote on the subject from Massey, Douglas. “Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System.” NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.
"Cultural stereotypes are engrained in both men and women and these stereotypes are a possible explanation for gender inequality and the resulting gendered wage disparity. Women have traditionally been viewed as being caring and nurturing and are designated to occupations which require such skills. While these skills are culturally valued, they were typically associated with domesticity, so occupations requiring these same skills are not economically valued. Men have traditionally been viewed as the breadwinner or the worker, so jobs held by men have been historically economically valued and occupations predominated by men continue to be economically valued and pay higher wages."

What is it actually doing to take for you to consider an industry "fair"?

I guess my real problem with these kinds of " we want more gays, women and minorities in the games industry" types of blogs is that they have nothing to do specifically with games. They are society-wide problems. You can't just solve them for one industry(the games industry). You have to solve them for the whole country, the whole culture. When you bring these problems onto a website like gamasutra - you make it seem like this is some kind of conspiracy in the games industry. What about the construction industry or the military?

And I am not even convinced these kinds of differences (as relating to gays and women being more common in certain industries) are necessarily bad. I think they will change eventually but I don't think we need to force it in any way, shape or form

Kate Craig
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At its heart, the article wasn't about 'forcing' anything - indeed, the final paragraph directly addresses that. There are women who are genuinely interested and passionate about games, and in some areas, as it stands, the environment is somewhat less than encouraging for them.

Cody Kostiuk
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@ Kate Craig who wrote: "There are women who are genuinely interested and passionate about games, and in some areas, as it stands, the environment is somewhat less than encouraging for them. "

I honestly think that a bunch of good women just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and blaze a trail in the game industry for other women to follow. It's a as simple as that. I don't think you can just create an environment/culture to appeal to women... without enough women to sustain it.

If a woman is truly passionate about game development, what's honestly stopping her from her dream?

Nathaniel Marlow
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@Cody
Probably the vile community, if I had to guess.

Jon Ze
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@Nathaniel sorry, only you can be in your own way.

People need to learn that they can keep making excuses, or they can BE the change.

Jenny Sunwing
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"What is it actually doing to take for you to consider an industry "fair"?"

Equal pay and a working environment that doesn't actively try to under-mind you might be a good start.

[User Banned]
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Pieterjan Spoelders
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I also don't see all the commotion.
It's the same with general computer engineering jobs as well.
Where I previously worked (an R&D department) there were 2 women in a staff of 47. One was a usability specialist and the other was a database specialist. They were treated very,very well. I also know a few other female engineers and I have to conclude that most choose to become architects or something else like chemical/bio-engineers. It piques more of their interests. Maybe this is because of traditional education, I don't really know.

Iain Howe
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One issue I have to take with the original writer is the one regarding blind review of applicants. It has been my experience that experience and track record are the two primary criteria for considering an applicant in the Game Design field. When forming a short-list of applicants one of the first questions bandied around the department has always been "Who's worked with this person before and what are your opinions?"

Once an applicant is being considered for the position there's always a hunt for someone in the department that still has contacts within the applicants current situation and there's usually a phonecall or email to that contact to get the down low on the applicant.

Yes, I agree that it's a bit naughty, but it has always been the way that things got done in my experience. Quite obviously this doesn't work with the 'blind applicants' paradigm and it's my belief that canny department heads will either reject that paradigm out of hand or else work around it.

Another issue is the concept that a 'nerded up' deparmtment environment is responsible for creating a environment hostile to diversity. It's, again, been my experience that most offices that aren't the PR department, Management offices or the lobby feature office furniture and beige walls. Any 'nerding up' of the place is done by the employees who bring in their own posters, calendars and action figures to decorate their own work areas.

Are we really looking at implementing "Corporate decoration and dress code policies to foster an inclusive environment that supports diversity"?

Maurício Gomes
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Maybe the article author worked in a bank and found it nice.

Jenny Sunwing
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"Are we really looking at implementing "Corporate decoration and dress code policies to foster an inclusive environment that supports diversity"?"

I don't see how this is a problem? Sheppard isn't suggesting to get rid of nerd things in a department totally. She's suggesting finding a balance. The design (graphic and web) industry figured this out years ago. Most design industry spaces are flexible, interesting, and allow for personable expression of space (ie: the bringing of personal objects) without being derogatory or overwhelming. Physical spaces that encourage diversity don't have to be beige walls and cubes as you've outlined.

Nathaniel Marlow
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If you're writing an article about how the games industry is sexist but you're not sure how to articulate the specifics, here's a tip:

Post it somewhere that allows comments and you can almost see the misogyny train pull into Willfully Ignorant Station and explode.

William Volk
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We've got to start at the top. Have woman manage the development studio.

Particularly in social and casual games, they ARE the largest demographic.

Works for us.


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