Study Claims Only 4% of Videogame Industry Employees Are Women
A study highlighted by the British Sociological Association has claimed that just four percent of people working in the videogames industry in the UK are women. According to the study carried out by PHD student Julie Prescott, the amount of women working in the industry has dropped from %12 (an already low figure) in 2006 to the current level. Prescott suggests the reason for such a decline comes from working hours and conditions.
Of the 450 she interviewed, 43% said that their well-being had been adversely affected by their working hours, with some 10% of respondents claiming they worked up to 56 hours a week.
Prescott put the low number of women in the industry down to some of these factors. She said that if the industry was more flexible in the working conditions and hours it set, then it could help retain more women, especially those who are considering having children. ”Flexible working practices would [...] improve the image of the industry as a family-friendly working environment,” said Prescott. She continued: ”Changing workplace structures, as well as improving childcare provisions would enable both genders to have active careers.”
As well this, the study found that 79% of the women asked did not have children, with 69% were under 35. The study also found that just 35% of female employees were university educated, a sharp fall on previous estimates.
In a separate article by Prescott, she said that only “28% had worked in the industry for more than 8 years”, with participants generally having a “negative view of the career progression of women within the industry and [a recognition that] barriers exist.” She did find that there were some positive aspects however. The women studied found themselves well motivated, satisfied with their jobs and the majority intended to remain in their work for the next five years.
While workplace demands might certainly be a factor for such a low number of women in game design, there’s also more social and cultural issues. This can be seen far down as education system, with TIGA last month highlighting how just 361 girls took computing at A-Level, with 3,704 boys taking the subject.
The UK’s Equalities Minister has recently spoken about attracting more women into videogame production. She said that “organisations filled with people who look the same, sound the same and have the same life experiences can all too easily end up thinking the same,” and that a lot of portrayals of women in games (often highly sexualised) comes from this male oriented workforce.