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Opinion: Games Criticism, Women Critics, And Challenging Sexism
Opinion: Games Criticism, Women Critics, And Challenging Sexism Exclusive
August 23, 2011 | By Ben Abraham

August 23, 2011 | By Ben Abraham
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    118 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive, Business/Marketing



[In this opinion piece, Critical Distance senior editor Ben Abraham discusses the controversial question asked at Melbourne's Freeplay games festival last weekend, "Where are all the female game critics?", and why "it's not enough to merely be 'against' sexism anymore".]

By now, many of you will have read and heard about the infamous 'game criticism' panel at Melbourne's Freeplay games festival. You may have read the passionate response by Brendan Keogh who bit his tongue throughout, and joined the audience in tweeting agitated thoughts. Perhaps you read Katie Williams' thoughts on 'Freeplay and that panel'.

f you paid close attention to the Freeplay Twitter stream, you might have even read Scarlet's 'scattered thoughts' in response to the panel. There's also a good chance you read the Gamasutra report on the panel by Saul Alexander who was in attendance.

And after all that, you would be forgiven for wondering, 'What's all the fuss about'?

The panel was called 'The Words That We Use' and involved four critics: Ben 'Yahtzee' Crosshaw (of Zero Punctuation fame), Alison Croggon (a celebrated literary and theatre critic), Drew Taylor (proprietor of the JumpButton game magazine and former PR representative for THQ Australia), and Andrew McMillen (successful Australian freelance journalist, most recently noted for his investigative work on discovering the inside story at Team Bondi).

The session was chaired by Leigh Klaver, from Swinburne University in Melbourne. There's no doubt it was a panel that had huge potential, and part of what frustrated so many was that it didn't quite deliver.

Given the panel's mandate of talking about language, culture, and 'the words we use', they could have conceivably gone in any of a number of directions. Yahtzee opened the discussion by suggesting that shorter pieces of criticism – a la Zero Punctuation – have the potential to 'permeate culture' more broadly than longer pieces that might take more effort to consume. The chair raised the issue of getting the tone right in criticism, and not being overly intellectual. Drew Taylor talked about the issue of managing the journalist/publisher relationship and backlashes from scoring. 

But the issue that set the audience audibly sighing, grumbling, tweeting and shifting in their seats was the matter of the under-representation of women in the field of games criticism. When Klaver floated the issue to the panel, it was pitched as a question: "Where are all the female game critics?"

That such a patently absurd question was even posed reflects a wider problem: the relative invisibility of women. Because it's obvious to anyone actually paying attention that female game critics are everywhere. In the same row of the auditorium as me were two of them – one of whom won a Walkley Award for a piece of games journalism in 2010. Gamsutra's own Leigh Alexander has a public profile that eclipses many game developers. Rather than rattle off every female game critic one by one, I'll direct you to Gamasutra's 'This Week In Video Game Criticism' column, which regularly features many of them.

So why their relative invisibility? On the panel, Alison Croggon said it herself: women still face issues of inequality, representation, and (perhaps most importantly) power inequality. To stand out in a field of men, a woman has to work three times as hard to be recognized. The issue is broader than just games criticism. As Croggon noted, in her own field of literary criticism, which has had decades to mature and develop, the same issues persist.

But where does the issue come from? After all, if you ask any person, man or woman, whether they are for or against sexism, you'll find few proponents of inequality. Clearly it's not an issue of "intending" to be sexist. And yet sexism persists. What are we doing wrong? 

Here's what I think: it's not enough to merely be 'against' sexism anymore. You, and yes I mean you, reader, need to change something. Probably it will start with your thinking.

Right now you may think 'I'm against sexism, but generally it doesn't affect me', or perhaps you're of the opinion that 'I don't think it's as big an issue anymore as it used to be'. But here's the thing – those 'opinions' are also claims, and claims can be tested. So let's test them. 

* 'Sexism doesn't affect me.'

Well, I hate to break it to you men, but sexism actually affects you as well. And I don't just mean that it affects the women in your life that you care about (Have you stopped to consider the sexism that your mother has to deal with? Your grandmother? Your sister?). But more directly than that, here's a list of 'Five stupid, unfair sexist things that sexism does to men as well. Whether you believe it or not, sexism is affecting you, perhaps in ways you don't even notice

* 'Sexism isn't as big of an issue as it used to be.'

Well, I hate to tell you this, because it's a bit heartbreaking, but that's just not true. Take a look at this chart from Wikipedia of the 'Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2009.' And if the graph isn't convincing enough, the Australian Government's Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs released a report in 2010 about the 'impact of a sustained gender wage gap on the Australian economy'.



The wage gap is just one facet of a complex and multifaceted issue, but it's illustrative of the point: sexism is still a big issue – big enough that it has identifiable effects on the economy. It's still such a huge issue that treating it as anything less is both damaging and dangerous, as it deludes us into thinking we can all just relax and stop the tireless and thankless work of fighting for equality.

Which brings me to my final, and most crucial point. It's not enough to just be 'against' sexism anymore. It's also not enough to just keep on 'doing your part', whatever that entails. Sexism needs to be challenged. If you are not challenging sexism on a monthly, perhaps weekly, or probably even daily basis, then you are not part of the solution – and as hard as it may be to accept – you're actually perpetuating the problem.

In the example from the Freeplay panel, it comes down to an issue of messages. At the end of the session, lots of people in the audience were justifiably angered because sexism (intended or not) went unchallenged. When sexism goes unchallenged, whether or not you agree with it, you are allowing sexism to perpetuate itself. Every time you remain silent, you are saying something, and what you're saying is that "it's not a big deal" or "it's not as big of an issue as it used to be." If you've been paying attention, you'll know that neither of these statements are true.

So when the idea that 'There are no female game critics' came up and wasn't challenged, it sent the message that critics who happen to be female are either a) invisible, or b) not worth paying attention to. Neither of these is the case. The fact that no one 'intended' to say this is not in question: who would even say that seriously? But that's the unspoken implication of the question, and the fact that it went unaddressed reveals, at best, apathy towards the issue, which is just not good enough for something so important. Apathy is not good enough.

Maybe you're not convinced yet. That's okay. But there is one request I make of anyone who I haven't persuaded to challenge sexism (or racism, or ableism, or homophobia, or a host of any other inequalities) just yet. It is this: when someone tries to tell you about the issues they face, how important they are, and how difficult it is to be heard and listened to and noticed, don't argue with them about it. Please listen to them, and hear what they have to say.

I'll conclude with a statement Alison Croggon made on the Freeplay panel, and its well worth listening to:

"…it's absolutely true that women face structured difficulties that men don't face. It's just a fact…you can just take it as read that if there's a woman's name attached to something it will attract less notice. It doesn't matter about the content at all. And if you want to achieve any kind of prominence, and it's still the case, you have to be three times as good as any man."

As game developer Ben Britten tweeted during the conference: "Gender disparity is a society wide problem, it would be great if the game community could be at the forefront of the change.." Similarly, Rob Reid tweeted from the conference that: "Gamers are problem solvers. Surely if there's a community that can figure out how to recognize the women amongst them it's us."

Gamers and game developers are some of the best and brightest people on the planet. If anyone can address this and other problems like it, we can.


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Comments


Robert Ferris
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Let's address the problems with your article before I address the matter.



Straight off of the page you link to - "The statistic does not take into account differences in experience, skill, occupation, education or hours worked as long as it qualifies as full-time work" This is a big obstacle for people trying to argue that women are being discriminated against. No one has ever done a real study on the wage gap. The fact that people keep clinging to this incomplete study makes me suspicious of the whole argument. I'm not saying that there isn't a wage gap, I'm just saying, there is no proof and no one seems very eager to find out just how much of one actually exists.



"So when the idea that 'There are no female game critics' came up and wasn't challenged" You have to be kidding. This whole article is a challenge. The tweets are a challenge. This is one of the most "challenged" forums of any conference ever in the industry. Are you suggesting that people should have simply stood up rght there and started telling the panel they are sexist? Not only would that be completely unprofessional, but it would instantly make the person who challenged it look like a loon.



Now, on to the issue itself. It seems to be your claim that all that has happen to make everything unicorns and rainbows is to stand up and point out acts we believe to be sexist when we see them. I fail to see how this will solve the problem. This would seem to presuppose that sexist acts are committed by non-sexist people and that they don't know what they did was sexist. I submit that this is not a very likely scenario.



Truly sexist acts can be challenged through HR and legal means. However, they are most likely to be committed by sexist people. These people, for the most part, won't change. They can, at best, be trained to stop being part of the problem. This needs to be handled on a case by case basis. It really can't be handled by some industry wide drum circle declaration.



Next, Alison Croggon's claim that "It's just a fact…you can just take it as read that if there's a woman's name attached to something it will attract less notice" makes no sense. You can't simply take judicial notice in a societal discussion. You must back it up with something, because (as with the wage study above) you will either gain a weapon to bludgeon people into action, or (and, yes, this is a real possibility) you will learn that your premise is wrong.



And finally, thinking that an industry with more than it's fair share of introverts, 30-year old virgins, action figure collectors and Lara Croft fans can come up with an answer to sexism is just a little bit silly, don't you think?

Joe Wreschnig
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Thanks for clearing it up - I feel so much better knowing we're probably only undereducating, underpromoting, and underhiring women rather than underpaying them.

Robert Ferris
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"I feel so much better knowing we're probably only undereducating, underpromoting, and underhiring women "



Again, judicial notice with nothing to back it up.

Joe Wreschnig
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But it's your claim, not mine.



The study is proof that women are compensated less than men. You say, well maybe it's not really a comparable wage gap, because it's not correcting for e.g. education. But if that's true, it just means women aren't being educated. That's not better. It's probably worse.



The only proposal that makes the wage gap not directly or indirectly caused by sexism is if women are, on average, inherently dumber or less capable than men. If that's what you're claiming, perhaps you need to reevalulate your other claim, that only "sexist people" perform sexist acts. Perhaps sexists acts are instead performed constantly by people who fail to consider that the status quo is sexist.

Robert Ferris
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You are implying that women are less educated because somehow they are being prevented from gaining a good education. I am merely stating the fact that a woman with a Bachelor's degree and 3 years of experience should make less than a man with a Master's degree and 10 years of experience if they are doing the same job. The study (and you) are trying to state that the woman in this example is making less simply because she is a woman.



You will never be able to advance your case if all you are doing is contradicting people with no evidence to support your claim. Your claim of a wage gap for women is entirely feasible, but without proof, when someone comes up to you and says "No, there isn't" the only thing you can do is start saying "yes, there is" back. It's the contradiction skit from Monty Python.

Nou Phabmixay
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"I am merely stating the fact that a women with a Bachelor's degree and 3 years of experience should make less than a man with a Master's degree and 10 years of experience if they are doing the same job."



Is this like if the President of the United States happens to just have a BA, he or she should get paid less? I assume for equal work there should be equal pay. However, the man should probably get promoted unless there's a reason he's still doing the same job for 10 years.

Katharine Neil
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Given the lack of transparency workplace cultures have around who earns what, I imagine it's hard to provide evidence that goes beyond the anecdotal.



...except for the time I had access to my (now defunct large game development studio) employer's payroll on an unsecured admin server. And those were the kind of hard, cold facts I think you'd appreciate.



And what I saw was solid, senior female engineers with double degrees being paid less than junior graduates. Female technical artists being paid less than the male artists they led. (there were also some disparities for male employees who weren't so popular with management). In fact, ever female employee in the studio was being almost comically underpaid compared to her peers.



Do I regret taking some of my co-workers aside one by one and showing them the payroll? No. What I regret is not publishing it on the internet for the benefit of those who need that kind of proof to believe this stuff actually happens.

Radek Koncewicz
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Not trying to add fuel to the fire, but there are other possible reasons for such statistical gaps: http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

Nou Phabmixay
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Ah, I like the read (I'll need to reread it again). Thanks.



It goes into more detail than the past articles I've read about how women approach things differently. Plus it talks about how while it sucks to be a woman, it also sucks to be a man.

Radek Koncewicz
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You're welcome. Pure-text transcripts are not the most exciting materials to read, but I think the link is quite interesting and well worth the time.

Brendan Keogh
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This is the most pathetic, blinded-by-privilege response possible and is a great example of exactly the problem Ben is highlighting.



You are right, the statistic does not take into account all those different things. Ben says as much when he says it just one facet. But you would have to be a male living in the cesspool of a Gamasutra comment thread to not realise that even the fact that women are often less experienced for a job is due to the sexism of our culture. I mean, how can you not realise that?



So you say that the idea that the panel wasn't challenged is ludicrous because this blog post challenges it? Because Twitter challenged it? That is the dumbest. The *panelists* didn't challenge it so now the public, such as Ben, are the ones that need to challenge it. That is the point of this article. Are you sure you read it or did the need to defend your own privileged position in society blind you from the words on the screen?



"Truly sexist acts can be challenged through HR and legal means. However, they are most likely to be committed by sexist people."



Flip that. Sexist people are those that commit sexist acts. Actually no, scrap that. There are *only* sexist acts. Such as your comment.



And on your last point, I agree the optimism of game developers doing anything about sexism seems improbable considering the many predictable comments such as yours that litter the comment threads beneath all the amazingly well written articles on Gender that Gamasutra publishes.

Robert Ferris
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"the fact that women are often less experienced for a job is due to the sexism of our culture. I mean, how can you not realise that?"



Maybe it's time people started looking up the term judicial notice before replying, because it keeps cropping up.



If anyone would do a legitimate study, things could be determined like areas with the most discrepency. Age, education, location, etc. Maybe it would be possible to start narrowing down specific action items to correct any problems. Again, the only reason I see for those who are so adamant about pointing out sexism NOT wanting a real study is that maybe, just maybe, you are wrong.



But, that isn't going to happen anytime soon. We're back to Monty Python.

Taylor Cocke
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Get rid of this judicial notice stuff. We're not trying to win a court case here. The problem isn't that black and white. It's a societal issue. It's cultural. It's evidenced in every aspect of gaming culture.



Sexism isn't always blatant. It permeates everything we do. It's in our very language. There's no one way to tackle these issues. There's no one solution. In order to deal with it, we, as gamers, have to be introspective. Examine our actions and how they affect those around us. Examine our language.



Why would we not want to improve the way we treat each other? Why not have the smallest amount of sympathy and compassion? Why ignore an issue that's blatantly a huge problem simply because we don't have numerical evidence?

Jorge Albor
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I just want to add that whether or not you have personally found a study you've been satisfied with, there have indeed been comprehensive studies of the gender wage gap.



A quick glance on google and google scholar will find a variety of studies regarding gender and sex discrimination in the workplace (not to mention elsewhere), some of which agree with your claims Robert.



For example, this Time article (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1983185,00.html) mentions the statistical discrepancies you cite. While it also points out that one study which took existing data and accounted for "factors like education and experience" did, in fact, lessen the wage gap, a gap nonetheless remained at women earning roughly 81% to a man's earnings.



Others studies have shown the wage trajectory of people who have gotten sex changes, showing lower earnings for the same person when they have become a woman. Yet another study at the very lest revealed a level of sexism in orchestral positions, showing that women were more likely to be hired when auditions were conducted behind a veil that his the applicant's gender.



This also says nothing of the disproportionate amount of unpaid labor women invest into society. One could also make the claim that men are hurt by gendered sociological factors that push men into potentially higher-paying but also more dangerous positions. On average, men become injured on the job far more than women.



I have no idea would argument could convince you sexism remains a serious problem that should be addressed. I just want to point out that we are not suffering because some shadowy feminist organization is stopping any serious study of sexism to maintain power (ha!). There are plenty of legitimate studies on variety of aspects of sexism. Search a little harder and you'll either be convinced or at least arm yourself with contradictory evidence more persuasive than what you've come up with thus far.

fred tam
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The problem is your assumptions always side on that of sexism being the answer when there are many factors you know aren't being taken into account. Transgender transition involves hormonal changes, and the people who do this claim to have brains that are wired as the opposite sex, so their behaviors preferences and interests and drives must also follow. It isn't just a change of their external appearance that matters.



The assumptions also are that education simplistically follows onto equivalent success, but this isn't true. Being good at turning in school work is just that, being good at playing that game and working that system in a bubble that has little to do with how the work place works. They already have studies showing that women excell in todays educational environments, meaning men do more poorly in these situations, but it also implies that since men do better outside of school that these skills are not entirely transferable. Taking tests is far different than innovation and leadership. the assumptions that one must lead to the other are simply unfounded.



Warren Farrel a founding member of the national organization for women has a good book on this titled "why men earn more" and what women can do about it. The more factors you take into account the more any gap bleeds away, which leads one to question the entire idea of the gap in the first place.



In any case one is making a false assumption in the first place, that you are comparing apples to apples. When 9 out of 10 prisoners are male, your two populations are so different that you are simply comparing apples to oranges. The political correctness in this discussion means one doesn't even acknowledge such vast differences when inconvenient. The number of men in prisons is just disproportionate on a level that makes the wage gap look trivial, yet it is juts assumed natural, and that reveals the lie behind the arguments.

Ian Uniacke
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Robert your judicial notice argument seem pretty weak. If people studied and discovered that women get less education you could just say "well women aren't trying as hard as men, so I won't believe you until you do a study on this". At some point we need to draw the conclusion that discrepancies DO exist.



"And finally, thinking that an industry with more than it's fair share of introverts, 30-year old virgins, action figure collectors and Lara Croft fans can come up with an answer to sexism is just a little bit silly, don't you think?"



Thank you for clarifying through your own prose, in a way that no direct questioning could possibly have done better, that you are in fact a biggot through and through, and you're not specifically a biggot against women but against all social subgroups.

Robert Ferris
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And we have the last resort of a person who is admitting defeat. A personal attack instead of trying to defend the issue.



That being said, let me counter your premise.

"If people studied and discovered that women get less education"

If people studied... There would BE a study to show as evidence of the problem. Currently, the whole point of your argument is "It is true, because I believe it to be true." As long as that's all you've got, nothing will ever change.

Ian Uniacke
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I'm sorry Robert but until you can do a double blind study that shows evidence to the fact that games development is dominated by 30 year old virgins I find it hard to take anything you say seriously. By the way thank you for participating in the "no you're wrong! no you're wrong!" type of argument that you seem to be accusing everyone of using against you.



Furthermore my comment is not a personal attack at all...it's an attack against your argument and that you display clearly that your thinking is thoroughly biggoted. If you choose to interpret that by pulling apart what I said and interpreting it in a way that suits your argument go right ahead. At the end of the day you're just making yourself look foolish.



You refuse to accept any argument that opposes your opinion. You are in denial of the facts. You also make wild claims with no evidence of your own (hipocrisy). You also clearly feel the need to respond vociferously to any comment. These seem more like "the last resort of a person who is admitting defeat" to me, to use your own words.

Cheng Ling
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First, it is a myth that women are 'under-educated'. Women have outnumbered men in high-school graduation rates and enrollment in secondary education for decades now (further proof of the myopia of the average cause-junkie: when the situation flips, they will still keep yelling about perceived inequities).



"This is the most pathetic, blinded-by-privilege response"



'Blinded by privilege'? This is the tiresome argumentation style of the activist: if the activist makes unfounded claims, he is shielded by his moral virtue. He just wants to do good! If the realist makes factual claims, he is 'blinded by privilege'. Black and white, good and evil. Childish thinking.



"The study is proof that women are compensated less than men"



And that is a meaningless fact. You cannot infer the cause simply because the result exists. And as many others have noted, numerous studies have proven that there are non-controversial causes for these disparities. But more to the point, such disparities exist outside of gender comparison. Because contrary to what people believe, we do not live in a world of 'same pay for same job'. Your behavior, drive, ambition, and many other intangibles or related issues factor heavily into your level of pay. I have been in situations where I have made more than someone with a higher degree than me ... because I asked for it.



Only sexists assume that sexism is the cause of everything. Only irrational people continue to assert this nonsense when studies have proven otherwise. Proof of this irrationality can be found in disconnected, irrelevant statements like:



"This also says nothing of the disproportionate amount of unpaid labor women invest into society."



And as a closer:

"I have no idea would argument could convince you sexism remains a serious problem that should be addressed"



Try proving it exists. And I mean proving, not insinuating, not inferring, not rolling your eyes and saying "We all know it exists!", or claiming that because the default pronoun in every language is male proves it exists, or all the ridiculous nonsense we're constantly hearing.



Sexism, like racism, is in any meaningful sense a thing of the past in Western society. That's reality. And those who continue to try to revive them are either suffering from guilt issues, looking for an angle to boost themselves as conscientious people and saviors, or looking for excuses for mediocrity and lack of success.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jorge Albor
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Did you actually read the article I linked Cheng? Did you actually google one of the numerous studies on gender discrimination? Have you ever talked to a labor discrimination lawyer about their case work? The proof is out there. Not insinuations, not inferences, but proof. Even if we were to rely on anecdotal evidence, if we were to simply do a poll about whether or not lingering racism is considered a problem for the average American (Such as exactly that poll right here: http://articles.cnn.com/2006-12-12/us/racism.poll_1_whites-blacks
-racism?_s=PM:US), we could consider this an issue that needs to be addressed. Even circumstantial evidence is enough to convict in US courts.



Why do some people insist the evidence isn't there, as though sociologists, political scientists, economists, and academics around the world have never conducted research on this topic. Disagree with their findings, sure, but don't pretend it doesn't exist.

Roger Mexico
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First off, Cheng, it's a little difficult to swallow your arguments concerning 'studies' when Jorge sited actual studies above and you countered with, 'well, plenty of studies have shown that those studies are false,' and then failed to provide proof that any of those studies exist. When I did a quick google scholar search for gender discrimination and gender inequality, I was unable to find any studies that flat out denied that both are still very much a problem. Most of the articles were more along the lines of this one, which essentially states that not only does discrimination still exist, but that people today generally underestimate its prevalence (abstract: http://heldref-publications.metapress.com/openurl.asp?genre=artic
le&eissn=1940-3356&volume=84&issue=6&spage=339). The arguments you bring up in your post seem a lot like a variation of confirmation bias that seeks to turn a blind eye to societal inequality despite evidence to the contrary detailed further in this paper: (abstract: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/97/3/421/).



As far as women being under-educated, I think the real issue there has to do with the experiences that women have while in school and the opportunities available to advance beyond academia. If you look at STEM subjects women are generally underrepresented, and intelligent women who might fare well in STEM subjects are choosing other areas to focus their interest on. A lot of this has to do with societal pressures to choose an area of study appropriate to one's gender, and the chilly or standoffish reception that occurs when a women tries to buck the trend. To argue that this isn't due to a subtle and pervasive sexist undertone is to choose ignorance in the face of evidence. For example, see this study which analyzes the commonly held reasons for a lack of participation from women in STEM: (http://www.yorku.ca/jjenson/gradcourse/blickenstaff.pdf). Just because the sexism isn't as blatant as it was in the good old days doesn't mean it's not there. Your comment also fails to note that while we have a growing number of women as students, we still have a startling lack of women in positions of prominence, in education or otherwise. Sure women are getting an education, but that doesn't help much when there are structural barriers that prevent them from being able to fully capitalize on that education.



"Sexism, like racism, is in any meaningful sense a thing of the past in Western society. That's reality. And those who continue to try to revive them are either suffering from guilt issues, looking for an angle to boost themselves as conscientious people and saviors, or looking for excuses for mediocrity and lack of success."



This is exactly what privilege looks like. I, for one, have been in more than my fair share of situations that would suggest that racism is alive and well. I've had parents outraged at their daughter for dating me, a black man. I've had people threaten me with physical violence for no other reason than that my skin color is darker than theirs. My experiences aren't anything new or surprising to other minorities, and these are just some of the more overt examples. To suggest that racism is a thing of the past belittles the difficulties experienced daily by millions of people, and only further serves to prevent us from moving beyond these issues. It's trivializing, insulting, and flat out wrong. I've managed to achieve a number of things that I'm proud of in spite of racism, and I don't need anybody to give me an unfair advantage to be able to succeed. I'm not looking for a handout here, I'm looking for respect.



From what I've observed, the same holds true for women and sexism, and I can't see why anyone would be against doing everything in their power to ensure that everyone gets an equal voice at the table and an equal shot at being involved. So far all the evidence I've seen suggests that sexism is far from being a thing of the past, so until you can provide compelling evidence otherwise, we have an obligation to do what we can to help remove whatever structural obstacles we can.

Brendan Keogh
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Bravo, Ian. Your comments have been the most significant contribution to this conversation thus far. Kind of like the exact opposite of Robert.

Samuel Wissler
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This is apparently way late, but I wanted to add it anyway. I'm sure women do get paid less than men and that's something that should be fixed. However, in business it hasn't all gone one way: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/business/06women.html



The recent recession has seen men lose their jobs at a much higher rate than women. That looks like gender based targeting too, and likely at the hands of the same people no less. How does that figure with this sexism narrative?

Jorge Albor
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@Samuel



Just to comment on men losing their jobs at higher rates, it both is and isn't a repercussion of gendered society. For the most part, men dominant the labor market in heavy industries, which tend to be the hardest hit during recession. Men are more often employed in vulnerable and even dangerous jobs, certainly a culturally normative and gendered decision. Secondly, men have likely lost their jobs at higher rates precisely because they have a generally higher wage than women. Need to cut spending? Fire the people you pay the most but who can be replaced.

Peter Schloensge
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This is no comment on the article, merely a statement on the last "brave" statement that was made:



> Gamers and game developers are some of the best and brightest people on the planet.



Did you attend the last Gamescom in Cologne? Guess not, else you'd have recognized what makes the majority of gamers today: casual gamers.



I wonder how they -who state the average citizen- are "the best and brightest people on the planet".

Christopher Braithwaite
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I don't understand why the question, "Where are all the female game critics?" is patently absurd. Granted, I wasn't at the panel so I don't know the context or tone with which the question was asked, but the question itself seems valid. Existence does not equal visibility, nor does asking it imply that there are no female game critics. You describe the problem of women's voices being discounted with respect to game criticism in this post. The question sounds like it is addressing that problem. Without the context within which this question was asked, it seems like a leap to automatically dismiss it as absurd.

Todd Boyd
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The majority of staff listed in the left-hand column of Gamasutra are male. Does that make Gamasutra sexist? (Perhaps the fact that it's using innuendo in its moniker would lend credence to this?)

Nou Phabmixay
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Do women not like sex?

fred tam
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Sure they do, but such a title is seen as potentially sexist if one finds it a convenient argument.

Courtney Stanton
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It makes Gamasutra male-dominated and maybe in need of expanding its hiring practices, for sure.

Kris Graft
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Courtney, I kinda take issue with this. Gamasutra (and UBM TechWeb for that matter) is much more than its editorial staff. There are lots of women here that do exceedingly important work in sales, marketing and event organization, and we've got female freelancers (not to mention Leigh, who contributes a ton and used to be full-time Gama staff as news director before moving on as a full-time freelance writer). We just hired a general manger for Gama and Game Developer (A WOMAN, OMG), and we have people from different religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and ethnicities inside and outside of editorial. We're pretty fuckin' diverse, now that I think about it!

Bart Stewart
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I'd like to think that most people reading this agree that people, regardless of their sex, should be recognized equally for work of equal quality. To that extent, I'd be happy to stand with Ben Abraham.



The problem is that I don't think the opinions in the initial article help to make the case for that goal. On the contrary: they are special pleading backed only by assumptions, made-up statistics, and faulty logic.



Assumptions are statements like "[a]nd yet sexism persists" for which no evidence is offered. It's simply concluded as though no one could possibly disagree. That doesn't help make a persuasive case that some remediative action is required.



"To stand out in a field of men, a woman has to work three times as hard to be recognized" is a textbook example of trying to handwave away a lack of evidential support with made-up numbers. Even setting aside the statistical smoke, where is any evidence to support the remarkable claim that, in the democratic and capitalist West, women as a group who perform the same quality of work as an equivalent group of men are under-recognized?



If the perceived problem is lack of something (like recognition), how do you measure what isn't there? If the real complaint is that female experts are often challenged by men (as Deborah Tannen has documented), where is the evidence that women's opinions on games are challenged more often or harshly than the opinions of male experts? (I've read a few gaming forums; challenging the opinions of critics seems to have no bounds of any kind.)



Finally, the "wage gap" claim is a well-known logical fallacy of flawed causation. The biological reality is that women as a group work fewer years on average than men as a group -- and therefore earn less over an entire career -- because more women than men freely choose to stay at home with the kids. No evil cabal of bigots magically controlling all workplace hiring causes this career earnings effect. And it's not reasonable to believe or helpful to insist that such evil must exist when there is another explanation with objective, measurable reality supporting it. That doesn't help build a good case for the author's claim that people aren't paying enough attention to female game critics.



To sum up, there is no more evidence that "sexism" (a conveniently faceless force) is denying recognition to game critics who happen to be female than there is for an "old gals club" keeping men out of jobs in elementary education (http://www.menteach.org/mens_stories/the_male_minority) or nursing (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC81172/).



If women *or* men want to be recognized for their gaming criticism, there is nothing stopping them but the quality of their work and their willingness to promote it. To claim that invisible cultural forces must somehow be preventing good writing from being recognized is insulting to those whose hard work has been recognized and discouraging to those who want their work to stand or fall on its own merits, and not on their plumbing.



My counter-advice is this: judge individuals by their individual behavior, not by their belonging to some category. If you think someone's critical work is good, say so. And then have the courtesy to accept that other people may feel differently. A lack of general agreement with your opinions does not constitute evidence of bigotry.



Where individuals are treated badly, of course we should stand up and say that's wrong. But an unsupported claim that not enough attention is being paid to female game critics is not such a case. To expend effort on something that's not real only insures that one won't be listened to when the occasional real problem comes along.



No one should want that.

Brendan Keogh
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Sorry, but I stopped reading at "Assumptions are statements like "[a]nd yet sexism persists" for which no evidence is offered. It's simply concluded as though no one could possibly disagree. That doesn't help make a persuasive case that some remediative action is required."



HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY ASSUME THAT SEXISM DOESN'T STILL PERSIST?



You need evidence? This panel happened. This games industry is happening. The evidence is our entire society. If you can disagree with that, you are the problem Ben is highlighting.

Jonathan Gilmore
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The panel happened because of statistical disparities. You are assuming that those disparities exist because of sexism. That is an assumption that may or may not have some grounding in reality. The disparity may also exist because women are simply less interested in games.

Brendan Keogh
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Those disparities exist because of sexism, yes.

Jonathan Gilmore
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Are disparities in the nursing profession also caused by sexism that excludes men? Maybe, or maybe men just don't want to be nurses. Sure, it's easy to get Sociology 101 to ask why women don't want to get into the games business, but then Disney is as much to blame for the disparity as any instutitional sexism. Unfortunatley those arguing that institutional sexism is to blame offer no evidence, probably because they have none.

Adam Ruch
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I cannot believe you actually said that.

Cheng Ling
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"Sorry, but I stopped reading"



Ah, yes, the mark of a mind truly concerned with facts and reason.



"HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY ASSUME THAT SEXISM DOESN'T STILL PERSIST"



How could you possibly assume the opposite? If you are making the charge, are you not the one who has to substantiate it?



"The evidence is our entire society."



This type of childish nonsense is endemic to the gender issue, and is why you activist types are so ridiculous. You don't care about facts or logic or reason, you just get all emotionally worked up about a topic and start running.

Adam Ruch
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Does anyone else think its weird that this thread is dominated by men, and the only two people seriously saying that sexism doesn't exist are also men?



That's weird man.



Weird.

Brendan Keogh
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Maybe women don't even exist. I mean, Ben didn't give any proof that they exist.

Nou Phabmixay
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Nobody has proven that I'm a man! I wish I existed without proof.

Jonathan Gilmore
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Also the people who believe that there are fewer women in the games industry largely due to sexism are also men. Even weirder.

Cheng Ling
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Bingo.



Women don't seem to particularly want to have this fight. Well, except maybe Leigh Alexander. Most women in the industry seem to just want to do their job, and good on them for that.



Which reiterates the point: this 'cause' is just a new version of sexism. It's men infantilizing women so the men can fight their battles for them.

Ben Abraham
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"Women don't seem to particularly want to have this fight."



And why is that, I wonder?

Katharine Neil
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If you haven't heard industry women being vocal about these issues, then I'm quite surprised about that. See the IGDA Women's SIG for the fruits of many years of discussion around this.



Plenty of my female ex-colleagues just wanted to do their jobs too. When they were sexually harassed, or quietly paid less because management think they can get away with it, or denied promotions, they appreciated male colleagues speaking up for them. When you're in a workplace where you're outnumbered 50 to 1 it helps a great deal. It's called 'solidarity' and it's much appreciated.

Åsa Roos
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Yes we do want this fight. Except when it impairs our ability to get a job, because we're viewed as difficult or when all the evidence presented is viewed as anecdotal or not relevant or just not correct.



It's hard keeping the fight up, knowing that whatever experience we present, it will be discounted, our story will never be heard.



I've been In countless discussions like this one. They never lead anywhere.

fred tam
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It is more weird that if you think all the comments are from men, that it doesn't provide you with evidence that the genders aren't equally divided in such interests...and thus your desire for simplistic equality is not based in reality.



It is the assumption of sexism as default that is galling.



As I've said, use this logic when looking at all things, not just a select few and it becomes absurd. 9 out of 10 prisoners are male, thus society and the justice system are inherently sexist against men correct?



Or perhaps.just perhaps the genders are more different than you think.

Mark Johnson
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"Women don't seem to particularly want to have this fight. Well, except maybe Leigh Alexander".



Except, you see, that she's on record as saying she mostly tries to avoid it. I won't try to paraphrase her but you can find what she said in one of the recent Brainy Gamer podcasts.



She's written on it on maybe two or three occasions that I can think of (there may be others which I can't). And she apparently works like a crazy person, judging by the amount of general writing she puts out. It's a tiny fraction of her available work - less than one percent.



Yet you still say that "she (maybe) wants to have this fight". And you ask why women are so reluctant to get involved?



Here's a hint. It's this. As soon as a woman opens her mouth on a gender issue (especially publicly) it's so easy for people who'd rather pretend the issues don't exist to just classify them as 'that crazy feminist ranter' or words to that effect. By speaking on the issue, they remove themselves from the list of people that people think they're willing to listen to when speaking on the issue.

Courtney Stanton
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yeah, it's like a system of oppression that has taught women to not speak up in opposition to dominant cultural forces has somehow resulted in women not speaking up! which is TOTALLY the same thing as not wanting to confront sexism!



especially when confronting sexism involves such reasonable, open-to-new-ideas, non-judgmental individuals such as yourself!



bingo indeed.



(also, you should really learn the difference between "sexist" and "ally to women". hint: Ben is the latter.)

Brendan Keogh
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Bravo, Ben. All excellent points well made.

Rob Zacny
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Ben, I think you need to demonstrate why a sexism problem exists. And then you need to demonstrate that it is, in fact, a problem and an injustice. And really, who are you to say what is justice? How do you define justice, and from what does that definition derive? Until you answer these questions and back them up with hard evidence, I think we can safely say your argument is invalid, based on unproven assumptions and principles.



And proof is so important to an open-minded individual like myself, Ben. I would love to listen to your complaints, of course, and those of any qualified women who have been denied opportunity or recognition on the basis of their sex (I will, of course, have to verify both their qualifications and their evidence that they were discriminated against on the basis of gender). But I am deeply concerned that we will be wasting time on an unproductive discussion built on a foundation of mistaken assumptions. Meanwhile important problems that are in no way connected to the "sexism" you describe here could be slipping past us, and nobody will solve them because we were distracted by your cries of "Wolf!"



And those undefined problems with their undefined causes are the ones that matter to me, Ben, because those are the ones that a man of my intellectual rigor and integrity is most equipped to address, just as soon as someone brings them to my attention with incontestable evidence. Until then, I must assume your are lying or simply mistaken.



Hopefully this gets the discussion back on track.

Robin Vilain
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I stopped reading at "I think". Who are you to think? Where are the facts?

Nathan Cocks
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Here's a simple break down.



- Female games critics exist.

- The question was put forward in spite of this.



That there is an issue here should be blindingly obvious. That people are failing to see it, depressing beyond measure.

Corvus Elrod
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Great post, Ben. Thanks for writing it. Having seen people I care deeply about affected by some of the very issues you've mentioned, both in and out of the game industry, I can attest to the validity of your points.



Happy to have more people standing up and saying, "This isn't right--let's do something about it."

Adam Ruch
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Let me spell this out for you knuckle-dragging simpletons.



The problem is that at an otherwise well-run, contemporary, moderately academic conference on gaming, the "expert panel" discussing videogame criticism asked the question "Where are all the female game critics?" That is your incontrovertible evidence that there is a problem. If the people who are in a position of authority (ie. those whose opinions we seek by placing them on the panel rather than in the audience of a panel) are genuinely unaware of any female game writers, critics etc, *that* is the problem. This is because there are, in fact, very successful female game writers all around the world, some in very senior positions at extremely well-known outlets. So, when the knowledge of so-called authorities on the matter has such an obvious lacuna, that is evidence of a problem. Sure, maybe it only extends as far as that Freeplay panel, bad luck of the draw on invitations and acceptance, but can any of you cretins name for me a few well-known female game writers - without Google? Can any of you explain to me why this very thread is being dominated by male voices?

Lauren Poling
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Out of curiosity, why do they have to be well known? What does popularity have to do with this? Anybody could spout off an 'Olivia Munn' and leave it at that. Not all women are in the same position as Leigh Alexander or Jessica Chobot to publicly engage this topic and promote gender equality.



Anne Lee

Rebecca Quintana

Brittany Vincent



Three female journalists I follow and talk with regularly and am proud to say I'm acquainted with.

Jonathan Gilmore
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You sound like a real moderate, thoughtful guy, calling the people who disagree with you knuckle-dragging simpletons and cretins, just the person to be on the forefront of a discussion about sexism in the games industry.

Courtney Stanton
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Sexism is stupid. People who argue ad nauseum to defend their sexism are engaging in stupid behavior.

Katharine Neil
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I'm just glad I'm an air hostess. I don't understand why people can't just get along. Sounds like some of you boys need a cupcake!

Dan Crabtree
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After searching for a bit, there does seem to be a woeful drought of authoritative studies on sexism in education. Maybe I just don't know where to look. I wish the evidence was more readily, numerically available to quell the voices of some of these folks who seem to think global warming is ManBearPig.

Dave Endresak
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Generally speaking, most academic publications are locked in pay-to-access databases such as ERIC, JSTOR, SAGE, and many, many others. I have access as a doctoral student, and I have had access since 2004 when I began my undergrad work (or rather, restarted my undergrad work in a totally different field than what I studied 20 years ago). However, the nonacademic population cannot access research publications and analyze the methodologies used, caveats offered (which are often not stated, leading to erroneous generalizations and other problems), conclusions drawn, etc.



For those of you who prefer quantitative studies (why? ^_^;) I can offer very simply advice from my quantitative methods professor who has been doing this work and teaching about it for many years. Simply put, he ignores any study that does not include the data because he needs to recreate the analysis in order to verify how the interpretation was done and the conclusions that were drawn. Guess what? He winds up ignoring a great deal of the research that is published because original data is frequently omitted from publication. Sometimes, it can be obtained by contacting the authors/researchers, but even then you may discover some serious flaws, liberties taken, etc in order to publish the final report. One reason this occurs is the "publish or perish" standard in academia, but there are other reasons, of course.

Kate Cox
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Writers, critics, and journalists -- male and female -- have generally been an amazingly welcoming and open-armed bunch since I started putting my own two cents about gaming.



Links to some of my posts and articles make their way around the internet to sites I'd not have expected, and sometimes I look at the sources to see what people are saying. Readers who get linked to me from some of those third parties don't tend to discount what I'm saying because I'm female... they just tend to refer to me as "he." As in, "I'm surprised he didn't mention [X game]," or, "I really don't get why he didn't like [whatever]."



It's a kind of willful denial and blindness that I really don't know how to correct. But lifting those blinders would be a nice start.

Jen Bauer
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I've had the same assumptions for my technical writing... it's a shame, especially with a feminine name, that one can be assumed male for writing something complex/technical/etc. Perhaps it's just a coincidence. (Heh.)

Dave Endresak
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You can also blame language. "He" is still considered the proper generic pronoun in English and people can be marked off for using other forms in formal writing. As far as online material is concerned, that is an informal arena, for the most part (at least for most openly accessible areas), but people are not going to struggle to use better terminology. Heck, they don't even want to follow better terminonology even when the APA standards (as just one very popular example of many standards that exist) stress doing so.

Cheng Ling
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... that's because 'he' is the proper generic pronoun in English, and every other language. It is not sexist. We had to pick one, and we picked male.



What's odd is that it actually is the most applicable gender pronoun in this industry and we're supposed to get upset about it. Some people go all the way to actual sexism and start using 'her' and 'she' instead, trying to make a point. Which, again, reveals how dumb this whole argument is.



When you've solved enough problems that the use of the word 'he' in a sentence upsets you, it's time to find another hobby.

Mattie Brice
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What is 'proper' or a 'rule' of language is fluid over time and fits the needs and attitudes of the society using it. What was considered a rule when English first started isn't necessarily a rule now, and we've come up with a whole bunch of new ones. If we are currently in a a society that sees men and women equal, or better yet, people of all types of sexes and genders, then falling back on 'he' as the neutral clearly doesn't hold up anymore. It's just being intellectually consistent; if you think everyone is equal in regards to sex and gender, then obviously 'he' can't be used as a standard or seen as the neutral state. You can still understand what a person means when they use 'she' or 'they' in place of 'he,' and the only excuse for any adherence to sticking strictly to 'he' is because of an outdated tradition. Or being blind to male privilege. I'll let you choose.

Brendan Keogh
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Cheng,



Do you know why we chose 'he', why we picked male? Because many hundreds of years ago, society was even more sexist than it is today. Crazy, right?!



Do you know why today more and more people are realising we should change our behaviour so 'he' is no longer the default? Because we are less sexist today than we were hundreds and hundreds of years ago. I know! Still crazy!



But of course there are the short-sighted, privileged bigots such as yourself who are more than happy not to notice anything happening around them because the current status quo (in this case, male being defautl) works for them just fine.



But thank you for your comment. I am glad I saw it before I wasted my energy replying to the garbage you have spewed forth in all your other comments.



(That was a favour. Now instead of facing your own bigotness you can just harp on about how us 'activist-types' resort to personal insults. Diddums!)

Kate Cox
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Do they also follow up with, "this guy might be onto something" because "he" is the generic pronoun in English?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Academically speaking, and to lighten the mood a bit ... I wonder if we need gender-specific pronouns at all, even when the gender of the person is known.

Alan Winthrop
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I think the main problem is that this is a very complex issue and people are too eager to jump to conclusions. Like it or not, gender as well as appearance weighs heavily in our perceptions. I’ve heard of game companies hiring women who are under qualified just because they are attractive. That is still sexism, but it can be advantageous to some women. Is it fair? No. Is it sexist and bad? Definitely.



I am not trying to imply that sexism only helps women. I’m sure that isn’t the case, but the issue is a lot more complex than this article makes it out to be. Making absolute statements without supporting evidence doesn’t help convince people. Here is a much a better analysis of the gender pay differences: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1983185,00.html Taking into account a lot of factors, it seems that women come up short, but not by as much as averages would have you believe.



Is there a way to not prevent weighing gender into our perceptions? Without doing a completely blind interview (which would be very difficult in games), I don’t think we will ever be able to completely ignore gender. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook and saying that it’s okay to be sexist and discriminate, but I think it is a very difficult issue to address, and I’m not sure boiling it down to “challenge perceived sexism” will address the issue.

In general, there are less women interested in core games than men. It follows that there would then be less women interested in becoming game developers and critics. Why are less women interested in core games? That again is a complex issue, but it is becoming less important as more women become interested in casual games.



In the end, I think the distinction between casual and core games will fade, which will help our industry in many ways because diversity is a good thing. As far as how to completely eliminate sexism, I don’t have any good answers.

Ian Uniacke
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From that times article: "That's partly because women tend to cluster in lower-paying fields. The most-educated swath of women, for example, gravitates toward the teaching and nursing fields"



My argument to you is why do jobs like teaching and nursing get paid less? Is it because it's "womens work"? (I'm not suggesting that you think that way personally). The pay inequality is more complex than most represent it for sure (although even after taking into account all factors there is still a 10% discrimination tax on women), however even the more complex parts display a significant gender bias through indirect means, such as the one I have indicated here.



Btw good article link.



In response to part 2 of your comment I would say that YES there are ways to prevent gender bias. This would be imo improving comprehension of how discrimination occurs. Let me give you an example: "In a male dominated industry (lets say the games industry) most people hiring are men. One said man interviews a prospective female candidate who has 5 years proven successful experience in production. In the interview the candidate explains that she achieves productivity through empathic measures such as allowing workers time off when their children are sick. The person hiring decides that (based on his own experience and biases) the touchy feely approach will just never work in the offered management position and decides to not hire the person." Of course this is more of an illustrative example, however this kind of structural discrimination occurs often. If, as hirers, we consider that a good track record and qualifications should be treated as more important that off the hand judgements than we can reduce this bias. Well that's just one idea I have for you.

Alan Winthrop
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I don't choose the wages for nurses or teachers, so I can't really comment, but I would guess that the salaries are basically the minimum required to hire people to do the work. I would guess that's how most salaries are set. A lot of people are teachers because they like the hours and getting summers off. As far as nurses, I've heard they can get paid well, but I really don't know much about it.



For your example, I personally don't see that as sexism. If you think that isn't the best management strategy, then you shouldn't hire them regardless of gender. The problem that I see is when you see someone, you instantly assume that they won't be a good manager because they are a woman because of some preconceived biases.



I don't think you can hire people solely based on their resumes, so I think it is important to get a feel for if someone would be a good fit for the team in the in person interview. The point I was trying to make is I'm guessing that for 99% of people, when they see someone, they will have a knee jerk impression of that person based on appearance, gender, etc, and I don't know if people will ever be good at completely ignoring that or separating it from useful information about the person.

Nou Phabmixay
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What you said.



Though I think women do like core games if they can get into a situation where it's fun. From Doom, Soul Calibur, Wii Sports to LittleBigPlanet to Dominion (the board game played online), I've had a blast with women. There's just something lost in translation from when the game is made to when they're sold that just isn't working.



Rock Band has been the most fun and interesting when the characters get made up back stories and personality. It then turns into a Rock Band RPG.



But, I agree with you and I think those questions you pose could be world changers if they were asked and proactively acted upon.

Dave Endresak
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Everyone should keep in mind that Time magazine is mass market media and as such is not necessarily considered the best of sources for academic writing. They are okay, not as bad as some, but not the first choice. However, checking their sources might reveal whether or not their summaries are valid, as well as what bias exists in the original sources. That's critical thinking and analysis. That's why the studies about game violence causing violent acts and other forms of "media effects" arguments always fall apart once they are analyzed.

Alan Winthrop
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I am by no means an authority on the subject (as it seems like another poster may be), and I didn't spend a lot of time finding a link, but I was just trying to point out that raw averages don't take into account a lot of important factors. I don't think there will ever be a truly accurate study because there isn't a good way to say "these two candidates are exactly equal except gender".



The time article mentions a study with gender changing, but I'm not sure that is the best example because transgender people sort of fall into a whole new category for discrimination I think. Again, I'm not an expert, but I think it's a really complicated issue and simplifying it doesn't really help address it.

Robert Ferris
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The article is actually a very good link. They mention a 2007 survey by the Census Bureau that looks to finally be the first legitimate look at this issue.



"I don’t think we will ever be able to completely ignore gender."

True. Boys and Girls are different. That's always going to be true.

Joe Wreschnig
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"I’m not sure boiling it down to “challenge perceived sexism” will address the issue."



Here's the problem. A lot of people read this as "challenging perceived sexism will have no effect (because sexism doesn't exist, only "sexist people" commit sexist acts, etc.)" rather than "challenging perceived sexism is not the complete solution to what is a multifaceted problem."



Nonetheless, doing it would be great progress.

Dave Endresak
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(sigh)



I'll reply to this type of thing one more time, I guess.



As I said in the previous article about this particular panel, this is my area of expertise, and in fact it is an entire field of academic study. Like any field, there are a wide variety of views and disputes amobgst scholars as well as different levels of awareness about research. Bart offered some very good points. However, the main problem is that in order to have an informed discussion about the topic, at least as far as research, interpretation of data, etc, including qualitative accounts as well as quantitative accounts, you would need to have a BA and probably an MA in women's and gender studies (which I have, by the way) or perhaps related fields in the social sciences such as sociology or cultural anthropology. Even with those achievements, you would have disputes, of course, like any other field.



One: Sexism is not about looks or appearance. Sexism is purely a matter of discrimination or stereotyping based on one's sexual identity. Note that this does NOT mean only binary, dichotomous male or female, however you try to define such terms. Note that it is not possible to define terms such as "male" or "female" clearly and concisely. This is taught in modern classes on endocrinology, and the medical establishment has become very aware of their misconduct over the past several decades. Read some of Anne Fausto-Sterling's academic papers, particularly "The Five Sexes" and "The Five Sexes Revisited" for just a few points to consider in order to understand the problem and the assumptions we make versus the reality of our physical beings. Concepts such as "feminine" and "masculine" are socially constructed terms, and thus may change with location, time, and other factors. Look at the history of fashion, for example. Standard male fashion in Victorian England would not be considered "masculine" today despite how it was considered during that era.



Two: There are plenty of individuals who are perceived to be male and may even identify themselves as physically male but who happen to have very feminine psychological makeups. Likewise for females who have male psychological makeups. These concepts cover a spectrum and are not distinct extremes.



Three: Physical sex has nothing to do with whether or not someone is capable of creating something that appeals to others, including others who have different identities of one kind or another. Consider writers for a moment. Deus Ex: Human Revolution just came out, right? It has a lead writer who identifies as female, at least based on the interview with her on GameCareerGuide. Guess what? No one cares, and no one is going to claim that she cannot possibly write a script that appeals to male or masculine psychologies. No one with any awareness of the market realities, at least.



People who argue that obviously there is sexism because of a, b, and c would not make good scholars. Yes, this sometimes happens with people who claim to be scholars, too, even for peer-reviewed work. In fact, that is exactly why people who are extremely good at analysis (such as myself, according to many professors I have spoken with) can easily rip apart methodologies, interpretations, and (most importantly) conclusions that are written by such people. As I said elsewhere, there are various forms of sexism, lookism, ageism, ableism, and many other forms of discrimination and stereotyping, but these vary with context, time, and other factors. For example, it has been well documented that women have been outpacing men in obtaining college degrees for the past decade or so. Such data is collated and recorded by academic institutions and is reviewed regularly by adminstrators, as well as being discussed on academic venues such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, various academic conferences, and education publications. That's true of overall degree attainment, of course, and does not mean that professions have evened out (whatever that means, since we are not supposed to be using binary categories).



The same is true for the wage gap. Yes, it exists, and has been well documented by the Department of Labor and other government agencies (see "Women & Men in Management, 4th edition" by Gary Powell, 2010). In fact, such records are reviewed by the United Nations and other groups on a regular basis. However, note that topics such as the wage gap indicate other interesting things such as the fact that Asian males are higher paid than any other category in the American labor force. Second are White males, and third are Asian women (Powell, 2010, p. 32). Of course, the problem, once again, is that such data treats people as though they belong in distinct categories, but reality does not work that way (e.g., people are a mixture of racial ethnicities, sexual and gender identities, etc).



I could go on and on about this topic because this is my field, but I am only trying to get everyone to realize the flaws in methodologies, interpretation, etc that panels such as this one demonstrate. The same thing applies to many of the comments in this opinion piece as well as the replies to it. I am not trying to offend anyone, and anyone who gets offended or insists on their own view being somehow "right" (e.g., sexism exists because it is an obvious fact, as some have claimed) is not approaching the topic from a scholarly, research-oriented viewpoint, or even from a practical, historical viewpoint (as I pointed out in my other post about this panel). I would be very happy to address this issue with any company or institution who might be interested, and that is why I bother to post replies to these articles on Gamasutra despite the responses my posts seem to receive, in many cases.

Nou Phabmixay
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Well, thank you for the response and putting it out there.

Cheng Ling
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This article is incredibly flawed, but more than that, it's hilarious. The arms-behind-the-head coolness of Mr. Sensitive Pony Tail Man, telling us all how horrible we are and how we can all be great like him. All we have to do is everything he says. Ben, thank you for epitomizing everything wrong with Western society.



As for the article:



The prime fallacy can be found when Ben jumps from saying that "women still face issues of inequality, representation, and (perhaps most importantly) power inequality" right to 'sexism'. Forget for the moment that the assertion isn't supported with any evidence, because like all gender arguments it's assumed to be self-evident. But he jumps straight to 'sexism' as the cause. No factual link, no cause-and-effect, he just assumes that he knows what is causing all the problems. And why not? That means he can climb up on the soapbox to browbeat us with no delay.



Nevermind the numerous studies which have shown that the 'pay gap' can be completely accounted for by non-sexist factors such as varying career choices, work habits, and behaviors. Nevermind that we consistently see places like Gamasutra publishing articles insisting this is an issue and promoting ideas they think will solve it. Nevermind the never-ending stream of female-oriented grants, scholarships, studies, programs, groups, conferences, et cetera. Nevermind the fact that more women than men have been graduating from higher-learning institutions for decades. Nevermind that nobody - nobody - can point up a single actual barrier that would stop an interested woman from entering a game-related field. Nevermind the complexities of personal choice, or the ridiculous and unattainable goal of 'balance' in an industry. Basically, nevermind facts and reason.



We just have to accept it. Why? Because of Western cultural guilt, the wonderful gift that keeps on giving. It's the modern original sin. We're impure and evil and can never be cleansed, so we'd better keep flagellating ourselves.



But it gets better! Ben then goes on to make some laughably pandering statements, such as "To stand out in a field of men, a woman has to work three times as hard to be recognized". Really? Did Kim Swift have to work 'three times as hard'? How about Jade Raymond? How about Amy Hennig? Or since you decided to go wide with your pandering, how about any number of successful actresses, pop singers, doctors, nurses, chefs, tailors?



Ben, we're not sexist. You are. You see women as weak and defenseless, because that allows you to play the male conquering hero. You deride the accomplishments of males thinking this will ingratiate you to females, the most childish form of interaction possible. You want to infantilize women so you can control them. It's a social form of Munchausen-by-proxy. It's why your greatest issue isn't with some overt act of actual sexism - because those things don't happen in any meaningful way - but rather that you don't like how another would-be 'protector of women' didn't phrase his question in a way you felt appropriate. This is what happens to all thoughtless, selfish, knee-jerk activism: eventually it eats itself as the members fight over who has the purest soul.



I am heartily glad to see that more people are calling this nonsense out. You tortured ubermensch who haughtily monitor the world and then try to harass and browbeat it into your preferred end goal have had it your way for too long. We're not racist. We're not sexist. We're not bigoted. You are. You cause-junkies who see everything in terms of gender and race and ethnicity are the problem, not the solution.

Ben Abraham
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I haven't had a pony-tail since I was 16!



Beautiful writing, by the way. Very florid.

Katharine Neil
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Sorry, but I can't see either of you getting laid from this. Sorry.

Matthew West
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I can't agree more with Cheng here. By calling attention to supposed sexism, Ben himself is simply promoting and advocating a sexist point of view. That's why, when we see or hear something we'd refer to as "sexist", the correct course of action is simply to ignore it and not mention it to anyone else. Discussing it openly is what sexism WANTS you to do!

Lauren Poling
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I'm sorry, but that is too huge a leap in logic for you to not provide a detailed, thorough explanation.



Was Rosa Parks actually promoting racism when she refused to move from her seat? Please, explain your train of thought.



We're all guilty of ignoring this problem, but that doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist. Excuse me for calling you out on it, but issues like racism and sexism never have been and never will be solved by people who ignore the problem.



Ignoring the problem only allows it to continue unchallenged. Ben's solution may not be perfect (because making assumptions about his motivation is automatically evidence that he's a just player looking to score), but it's a lot better than the suggestion that we all sit quietly in denial and expect someone else to solve it.

Mark Johnson
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Wait, what? You're saying that the games example treats everyone equally regardless of gender and one of the examples you use is Jade Raymond?



Talk about being oblivious to irony.



And, as someone who was at the panel, I can confidently state that Ben's article voices the opinion of a significant proportion of the audience. In fact, I can point you to a link of the archived Twitter stream: http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/Freeplay11?sm=&sd=&sy=&shh=00&sm
m=00&em=&ed=&ey=&ehh=00&emm=00&o=&l=10000&from_user=&text=&lang=



Look from around the #1100s on up for the panel as a whole, and from around the #980s for the women in games criticism stuff. (Bear in mind that it is a live archive so those numbers do change.)

Kris Ligman
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Wow.









Wow.

Brendan Keogh
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Kris, did you see his comment about how we should use the male pronoun because "English chose male"? Hilarious!

Kris Ligman
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I know! It's like he's warped in from a previous century! A very confused century!

Brendan Keogh
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Was it the 1200s when they had the Conference of English where "english chose male" or was that the 1300s? I can't really recall.

Kris Ligman
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I don't know but I tend to blame the Victorians for everything.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bart Stewart
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May I suggest that there's actually some common ground here?



When I read Katherine Neil's recounting of how she and others were treated, it made me angry as a fellow human being and disappointed that any employer would be so foolish. And I would bet that most commenters and readers here would feel the same way about this specific example of mistreatment.



Isn't that worth recognizing, maybe even for cutting each other a little slack?



The problem is in the belief that this is just one manifestation of a vastly larger problem of inappropriate discrimination that pervades Western society and maybe humanity generally. For some here, this is self-evident. For others, isolated examples and personal stories, however unpleasant, do not constitute a pattern, especially when there is evidence that Western society in particular has come an extraordinarily long way (relative to other cultures past and present) in treating people equally for equal effort.



At some point, where each of us comes down on this question of whether sex-based discrimination is isolated or endemic becomes a matter of faith. You either believe innately that society is mostly broken and people need someone to force them to behave correctly, or you believe that society, despite a few problems for which means of correction exist, demonstrably works pretty well and does not need a crusade against a generally non-existent problem.



I don't think either of these belief systems is going to be changing any minds. (Name-calling certainly won't help.)



So maybe the wisest course is to appreciate that we all stand together in condemning individual acts of unfair discrimination of any kind, and let it go at that. I'd rather be able to have constructive conversations with people starting from some common ground than argue interminably about things we'll never agree on.

Robin Vilain
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"The problem is in the belief that this is just one manifestation of a vastly larger problem. For some here, this is self-evident. For others, isolated examples and personal stories do not constitute a pattern."



That is exactly the point. Ben isn't accusing people of intentionally perpetrating sexism: he is saying that, by refusing to acknowledge its existence, people allow it to live on. "After all, if you ask any person, man or woman, whether they are for or against sexism, you'll find few proponents of inequality. Clearly it's not an issue of "intending" to be sexist."



So, no, there is no common ground in this particular discussion, because the recognition of the problem's scale is what constitutes the discussion in its entirety. Either you accept that sexism is a real issue, and an important and a dangerous one, and you actively fight it; or you prefer to wait for "factual proof" and refuse to take action (a behaviour that the other group considers equivalent to helping sexism spread).

Bart Stewart
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Well, if agreement to object to real and mutually acknowledged examples of bad behavior is not good enough for some folks, then I guess they'll miss the opportunity to make some progress.

Robin Vilain
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Progress is being done by those who act. I don't see how "not doing anything until 'evidence' is shown" can be more effective.

Jennifer Dowding
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One note to Alan Winthrop. Women do not often get hired based on attractiveness, as he claimed. (Our secret advantage!) Actually some studies have shown that the more attractive a woman is, the less likely she is to get called for a position or interview despite her qualifications.



See here: http://www.livescience.com/9038-attractive-women-hired.html



However the fact that appearance even gets brought up at all in a debate about ability and skill is a poor sign. When discussing jobs/resumes employment etc if we were solely discussing men, would appearance even come up? Do most people even know what most male game designers look like? Or care? Reminds me of one girl who's suffered from this a lot from both men and women.



Poor Barbie, a doctor, a olympic champion and dentist. Yet all anyone talks about is her rack.



Finally, Katherine Neil I was appalled to learn what you uncovered at your workplace. I am also amazed that after you said that no one mentioned it or brought it up as evidence of these very discrepancies...



Finally, as a girl just starting in this industry please don't hate people for recognizing where inequality exists for we all know it exists everywhere in many different forms. And dissecting everyone's sentences doesn't help. We should all support each other and work towards a better future and to try to act as role models for the next generation. As I grew up (I just finished school) feminism was considered a dirty word, pronounced by lesbians in doc martins and short haircuts. At least that's what people said. But feminism isn't a radical movement trying to demote men it is merely a desire for the same chance, against a bias which comes from men and women. When I was young a girl once told me "Just face it, boys are better than girls and there's nothing you can do about it." Reading this it makes me feel that kids and adults are still saying that to each other...what a tragedy.

Martain Chandler
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I believe Gamasutra discussion of 70+ replies is equivalent to 1,000,000.25 4chan board posts. If we make it to 100 then someone gets a prize.



I can't name one female game critic. I also can't name any male game critics, unless you count "that zero punctuation guy" as naming someone. To continue the list of things I don't know; I would say I definitively can't name one _insert ethnic identifier_ game critic, either. In some ways I'm not a very observant person.



Sexism and racism will always be with us as long as humans feel threatened by "the other." It's going to take a long time to deprogram that fear. The best we can do to speed up the process is unite against a common enemy.



At this point I usually demonstrate the effectiveness of the "common enemy" ploy by throwing a smarmy Atari exec on the floor and encouraging everyone to put the boot in.

Luis Guimaraes
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Alright, let's settle this up in a Quake match!



Well, by 2030 we'll be 10 billion people in the world, living in alternate day and night shifts. More women working full time mean less births. Women are not workaholics as men, and society itself doesn't push them towards spending the whole life in work as it does with men. But, populacional control programs have to get people looking the other way, be it TV, shopping, video games or the next promotion.

Bart Stewart
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Actually... maybe not.



Birthrates in many nations -- especially well-to-do democratic/capitalist nations -- are already below the 2.1 children-per-family replacement rate. Ironically, as the world becomes more successful, we race toward a global economic crash as fewer and fewer workers are born to support retirees with generous benefits.



The day may come when the U.S. and other "first-world" nations have to beg for immigration, legal or illegal, just to maintain themselves economically. That's not something economic conservatives want to hear. Nor does it fit the Malthusian scenario that other people want to use to dictate their preferred socioeconomic changes. But it's hard to argue with the trends of these numbers.



None of which really is germane to the big debate above, of course. It's just another example of belief being at odds with verifiable reality.



Would this be a good time to bring up the belief in anthropogenic global warming? :D

Luis Guimaraes
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Haha yeah I went too far this time. But we're in times of cultural shifting being driven by advertisement. The point about retirees is interesting. If the push of women to corporate work is part of either a consumer-base building or birth-control or both I din't know. I'm just raising points, about how (true) equality is good for everybody.

fred tam
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Low birthrates only exacerbate the differences, women who are broody have more children, career driven have one or none. Natural selection is a process that has no political leaning, it just does what works. Like it or not some women seem to select themselves out of the population, and that has to have an effect.

Martain Chandler
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As a male that chose to never reproduce I have no say in the genetic history of humanity. But I have managed to infect number of children with some pretty successful memes. So of course I would like to see memes beat genes in the long run. I admit genes are pretty powerful, but they just don't have the smarts.



World population will continue to increase until we're packed in like sardines. That is genes' ploy to force a showdown with memes. Genes wants a world crash to reset the unwelcome memes. Memes have two problems at this point. 1) Complex ones are slow to proliferate, 2) The memesphere is a house divided with memes beneficial and detrimental to humanity still in competition.



Will impending disaster encourage us to manufacture better memes to change our behavior before biological fear kicks in and makes us do something tragically stupid?



Oh shit, we're screwed!

fred tam
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The problem is your assumption of sexism is highly problematic.



All sorts of discrepancies exist between groups like genders.



Lets take a simple example. 9 out of 10 prisoners are male, and have been for a long long time, and this won't change either. Now if I drew up a bar chart of this it would make your earnings chart look very minor, so the conclusion we must jump to is this is due to inherent sexism in society and the system? Or perhaps men just take more risks and are more varied in their behavior perhaps?



Trotting out the old earnings generality puts you off on the wrong foot from the start, it is best not to go down that road. The simple fact of the matter is as you take more factors into consideration, the more those numbers are explained, women take time off for family and pregnancy, they are less likely to take dirty and dangerous jobs, how many plumbers are women? Miners? The genders just don't make the same choices, the simple factor of sexual selection makes this a fact of nature, financial success for a man tends to make him more attractive as a mate, regardless of his looks or age to some degree, the reverse does not hold for women, and never will. You can't get around that. Financial rewards are also a higher driver for men than women..and it drives them to take more risks. So why would the outcomes be the same, it stops being an honest discussion when such generalities are trotted out to claim sexism regardless of reality.



Women are just not into sports as men as well, the WNBA sounded like a good idea, but women didnt want to watch, sexism? Or perhaps the genders have different ideas of what is entertaining, the same goes for video games, why does it have to be 50/50, this is a false assumption of what is normal.

Alison Croggon
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Wow. It's almost exemplary: threaded throughout these comments is a selection of every cliche of sexism. I'm not going to do Feminism 101 here. Suffice to say that all those men explaining to women that they are not discriminated against (while at the same time claiming that they only get jobs because they're pretty, or get paid less because they are less educated or less capable, or are really soft fluffy thangs who needn't worry their little heads over manly stuff like gaming) demonstrates about as classic an example of sexism itself as it is possible to get. QED.



In most industries, sexism usually presents itself as a pyramid, in which the few positions with financial reward and status go disproportionately to men. It means that while women might even outnumber men in education for that particular field, when it comes to high-paying, high status jobs, the mass of positions are held by men. This holds true even if the lower paid positions are dominated by women. You see this in publishing, an industry if anything dominated by women - most of the people I work with, editors and publishers and publicists and so on, are women. But in the board room and at the top? It's almost always men. Same with the culture of literary notice - high status literary prizes are dominated by men, although it's entirely possible that women writers as a whole outnumber men. It's a complex question, to say the least, and it's not easy to solve. For those interested, I wrote a piece about the Miles Franklin prize that teases out some speculations on why this might be the case, in particular looking at the reflective nature of (class, gender, racial) prejudice:



www.abc.net.au/unleashed/57054.html



It's not to do with intentional sexism. It has a LOT to do with unexamined attitudes of privilege, like those abundantly on show here.

Ian Uniacke
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Well said Alison. I think that there is a misunderstanding on what constitutes structural discrimination.

Nou Phabmixay
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So you can learn two things from this thread.



1.) If you can't prove it using "logic" then sexism doesn't exist

2.) sexism doesn't exist because you used one flawed example

3.) we all need to get along and ignore it and just live with what we can agree on (like sexism doesn't exist)

4.) if we just redefine sexism it goes away

5.) we can probably do math but not see sexism



Speaking of which, do you guys remember that hot looking Sarah Palin? Oh yeah, I'd do her. Anyone see that [insert n-word here] President?



That was not sexist. It was just a statement of my overly active organ! That was not racist. I was just using common language that everyone understands. The best part is that you can't prove it happened, nobody did a study.

Bart Stewart
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3. For what it's worth, I wasn't suggesting that people should ignore actual real-world problems. I suggested that we try to talk to each other civilly here on Gamasutra's forums even when there are things on which we aren't going to agree.



I'm sorry you choose to miss the point.

fred tam
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"So you can learn two things from this thread."



Mainly you learn that it has to be sexism, why? Because I said so.





Pyramid? No, women choose different roles, going more into hr than say engineering, those are just different paths that lead to different results. Women choose safer jobs, not to move to sacrifice work/family as much as men, and women have always had the option of falling back on their husbands salary as well, you might not like it, but it is an option and it will affect the choices made. In studies many of the women getting higher degrees like mba's were really just breaking into higher social circles to marry higher earning men. Like it or not men are less likely to take extra time off for children or even want to, they don't need to take time off for pregnancy, so if they dominate upper positions in education and such it is a given, the folks that work harder get more, sometimes at cost to other aspects of their lives. Assuming everyone makes the same choices or those are the only right choices to make is the problem. Trying to force a false equality where you reward different choices with the same result is simply wrong.



I know you want the simple answer that relies on men and women being apples and apples comparison. But it really is apples to oranges unless you ignore every other difference that is inconvenient to your cause. Sure men dominate some higher areas of learning and such, but as I said, they dominate prisons in a way that is so disproportionate that it makes your simplistic idea of equality look a total sham. Literally 9 out of 10 prisoners are male. What is the last time a female raped a male? This isn't sexism, this is innate. Go look at youtube, just how many stupid males are there breaking bones on camera doing stupid stunts like leaping at cactus from speeding trucks to jumping off roofs and other endless stupidity. Extreme sports is dominated by men, risk, thrill, this is far more common in men and it either leads to stupidity and failure or success, like it or not this is a big difference. It comes down to evolutionary psychology, higher risk tolerance and variation is good in males because it increases the chance of success and passing on your genes, with females it is exactly the opposite, they only have to choose carefully, now this kind of difference is going to make for differences in all aspects of life, earnings is just one part of this.



Men are also more likely to be afflicted with disorders like aspergers or autism, nothing is 50/50 in the real world. I've seen womens groups claim that math departments in universities are sexist because there are more men than women, and women's test scores in high school are equal to men. The part they leave out? Men and women are only equal on AVERAGE in high school tests, in things like the SAT the truth is revealed, the men are more likely to get almost all the answers wrong, and also more likely to get perfect scores. What matters in high level math departments are star performers, not the average. This type of sin of omission is so common in such debates it really is a big problem.



The problem is that feminism was founded when blank slate thinking was in vogue, and it has had a hard time moving past that dogma. The truth is nature is stronger than nurture, these days we know we can't train homosexuals to be heterosexual, so why continue to pretend we can make men into women and women into men, let alone judge success or what is good by only mens interests. If more men want to review games or play games, then fine, this stuff is just a hobby, it isn't saving the world. More women are in medical school than ever for example, they are disproportionate in fact at this point, so why focus on this trivial stuff? If you want to see the whole picture look at the drop out rates for men and the rest, they are doing worse and worse, so all the crying about sexism is really on the wrong foot if one looks at the real picture. As I said, 9 out of 10 prisoners are male, if this were reversed the outrage would never end, but when the numbers are skewed in a negative fashion for males it just is a given, it is ignored as convenient in these arguments, and that is the problem with the cries of sexism.



http://www.amazon.com/Why-Men-Earn-More-Startling/dp/0814472109

Why do men earn more, where do women earn more, one of the founding members of NOW explains.

Ian Uniacke
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I have a couple of questions for you fred:



"No, women choose different roles, going more into hr than say engineering, those are just different paths that lead to different results" Why should the woman in HR be paid less than the man in Engineering?



"In studies many of the women getting higher degrees like mba's were really just breaking into higher social circles to marry higher earning men" Can you please reference these studies? Was there a study as to men's intentions for entering higher learning to balance this study and if not doesn't this just prove that not everyone goes to university for a career?

fred tam
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Supply/demand, like it or not hr is a soft skill job, engineering is frankly on a higher level of training and demand. Either what you do works, or it doesn't. Anyways that is just one example, a more stable and high paying job is in medicine, you can't outsource a doctor quite as easily after all, and that field is becoming dominated by women graduates now. So why pick and choose for your own idea of how others should best live their lives? They seem to be choosing the best paths for themselves already. Many women in the past were pushed into tech by wrong headed folks who just wanted to fill some "ideal" quota they had in mind, nothing about what was best for the actual people involved. You can guess what happened to a great many who eventually washed out of the field.



As for the mba bit you can probably find it in freakonomics. The fact of the matter is if you marry high earning husband, it opens up the option for you to cut back on your hours or simply stop work to take care of your children, it is a luxury that this type of social climbing affords. I'm sure some would leave their children home with nanny without a second thought, but I doubt most would be so fast to go back to 60 hour weeks or whatever treadmill they were on. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/relationships/8239530/Do-women-really-
want-to-marry-for-money.html

Alison Croggon
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Fred: I read this far: "Women choose safer jobs, not to move to sacrifice work/family as much as men, and women have always had the option of falling back on their husbands salary as well..." I'm afraid you disqualify yourself right there for writing arrant nonsense.



Puh-lease. Do you actually know any women? What is it about having a vagina that makes a woman less intelligent than a man? Do I have to write out the history of masculinity and femininity since Aristotle to demonstrate that historically these qualities are infinitely malleable? And yes, of course gender plays out over a spectrum of possibility. What is being talked about here is injustice - people of equal ability and achievement being treated differently because of their gender. If it was because of the colour of their skin, there would be no argument that it was wrong. This is EXACTLY THE SAME ISSUE.



I suggest you talk to some actual women, and, more importantly, LISTEN. You might learn something. There's a few women in this thread , for a start. Also try reading these two AWARD WINNING female journalists, talking about what it's like to be a woman in the games industry:



http://au.gamespot.com/users/Lozzica/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id
=m-100-25947136&tag=all-about;blog1

fred tam
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Once again with the immediate insults.



Like it or not your side has to rely on these snipes because frankly most of the information you rely on is too good to check.



You've read things into my post which are not there. I've said nothing about intelligence, just choices. If you think earning the most money is the only goal in life, and that is equivalent to intelligence, that says something about you, not me.



And no, this isn't the same as skin color, skin color is entirely superficial. Gender is fundamental difference in biology, mental wiring and what hormones flood each body. The resulting differences are vast and undeniable. As we learn more from science we have learned these things are NOT infinitely malleable. The idea of the blank slate was debunked long ago, and only grows more obsolete by the day as science progresses.



I think you should take your advice and listen, so far all you've done is regurgitate the dogma that has been losing credibility over time as it fails to mesh with reality.



Like it or not there are different paths for men and women. Just how many girls are learning to change even the oil in the cars, let alone tuning their cars into performance machines, or becoming mechanics. Folks like you fixate on a few select jobs to make your case, but the fact is you ignore a whole lot to justify your grievances.



I suggest you put your money where your mouth is. If the women who are technically minded and driven are so vast and underestimated you could start a company to exploit this undeveloped resource. If the population of women gamers is also similarly vast and uncatered for, you could start a games company devoted to making games that appealed to women and simply rake in the cash.



I know you won't, because talk is cheap, and despite all your talk, you know very well what the truth of the markets are in both cases. There is no money to be made because there is nothing there. No amount of money sunk into the wnba is going to make women want to watch it, you can't force people into being what they are not. Its time we stop pretending everything has to be the same.

Scott Macmillan
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For the record, she didn't insult you. Saying something like, "You're a stooge," would be an insult. She is simply disagreeing with you strongly, using some words in caps.

fred tam
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Well if you can't read behind the lines of "do you know any women" and the rest her similar comments, I guess you wouldn't see any insults in that post. As I see it, it is chock full of them. If I had used the same tone and tactics, it would have involved characterizing her as some kind of sad stereotype to dismiss her out of hand, and well that is the issue...that is all she had to work with, and that tactic is used to shut down discussion and is all too common when someone needs to cry sexism without much to back their case.

Johnnemann Nordhagen
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I don't think wading in to this verbal wrestling match is worth any time at all, so I won't. In an internet argument, there are only losers. I just wanted to be another voice shouting out that Ben is absolutely right, I'm glad he wrote this piece, and I hope we as an industry are brave enough to take up the challenge.

Rachel Helps
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I like the general sentiment of the article, but the arguments assume that the reader is a male who feels unaffected by sexism. While Gamasutra's audience is probably mostly male, as a female, I feel excluded. Perhaps one way to fight sexism in game journalism would be to take into account that women take an interest in these topics as well.


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