By guest blogger Jackie Farrow
The numbers of women making it to the top in technology industries make rather depressing reading. While (given the traditionally male-dominated nature of jobs like programming, game development and hardware design) statistics are improving, just four Fortune 100 technology companies are run by female CEO's. That's a slightly worse percentage than the pretty dire stats for the entire Fortune 1000 list. Here we'll look at what the issues are, focusing on one of the biggest sectors of the market; gaming.
The Gaming Market
Women, according to an Entertainment Software Association report, make up very nearly half of regular gamers in 2014. If games companies are going to be successful in targeting a market that's half women, they are going to have to put women in positions of power, both in terms of game development and in broader areas. So what are the challenges faced by women within the industry?
The growth of the gaming industry has been rapid and sustained, and one of the fastest expanding areas has been the online casino sector. It's easy to see why; sites like River Belle offer players the chance to experience the thrills of a night at the tables without leaving home. There are plenty of women's success stories in the online casino industry itself; Casino Life magazine published an inspiring interview with five women working at a senior level in Romania last year.
While there are plenty of women entering, and being successful in, the games industry, there is a continuing problem with online harassment. This is often aimed at female games developers who take any kind of stand against the sexism that's still a feature of many games. There can be no doubt that some young women are put off entering an industry that, on the surface, is becoming more and more appealing to all age groups and genders, by the regular abusive trolling of female game developers who speak out on sexism in the industry.
And there's a vicious circle working here; the fewer women there are in the tech industries, the fewer role models there are for young women to look up to and seek advice from. However, they are there, and however slow progress is, there must eventually come a tipping point. Teju Deshpande, co-founder of Mindcrest, works on technology designed for law firms. In an interview with ChicagoBusiness.com she remembered the advice given to her by a female mentor when she started as an electronic engineer: "She told me, 'It's OK to be tough. Spend the hours—it won't always be like this.' " We can only hope she's right.
It has been, is and still will be a long and rocky path for women in the industry and like many things changes take time. It is vital that young women are encouraged to follow their dream and are provided with any possible support in order to achieve their goal because giving up a dream is just not an option.
- Jackie Farrow is currently studying journalism and is a freelance writer.
(Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures / Pixabay.com)