Do you feel the efforts in improving female representation in the industry are being improved?
It’s a complicated topic, it is, and it isn’t. The non-complicated part is yes, it’s only about 20% women on average worldwide in the industry. The complicated part is more about how we get companies to recognise that underrepresented people have value.
Lots of this has been addressed and some of it publicly, where we’ve seen lots about sexism and scandal, which has majorly shaking up the industry. Every one of these major incidents helps to expose those problems in that company and gets other companies in the industry to wake up and reflect, ask themselves hard and honest questions about what goes on in their company.
A lot of this frankly comes from leadership; if they’re unwilling to be aware of what the problems are in their own hands by not listening to what their employees are saying, then it’s the leadership who are accountable. I hear anecdotes from women every single day in the industry and it makes me angry because we’re not going to change human nature, but we can keep it accountable. There needs to be structures in place in companies so that if I get harassed and report it, somethings going to be done about it. There needs to be accountability structures so there’s a culture of calling out and whistleblowing.
I do think there’s a greater awareness, not just over the last couple of years but over the last couple of months with the black lives matter movement. It’s emphasised again not just about the lack of gender diversity but the lack of racial diversity and other under representation in the industry. A lot of companies posted their BLM statement about what they’re going to do to change things, which is great but again, a lot of us are sceptical because we’ve heard this before and unless there’s a change in behaviour and we’re shown there are accountability structures, it’s going to be hard to believe it.
All that being said, there’s a lot of great companies who’s culture has changed and even smaller to medium sized companies who left larger AAA companies specifically because they wanted to have a good work life balance or because they want to have better representation in their company across the board. The industry is becoming more open to its flaws and things are changing, but it’s slow and we still need to push it.
What’s your biggest piece of advice, no matter the individuals background?
Don’t let the lack of representation in the industry put you off joining. I’ve been in the industry for 27 years and there’s a reason why I’m vocal, it’s because I want other women especially young women who are considering gaming as a career, who see all the bad stuff online, to join gaming.
If you’re in that category where you like games and think you’d like to work in the industry, think about your skill set and what exactly you think you’d like to do. I’m a geographer who’s been in the industry a long time, if I can make up a job in this industry then anybody can. I know psychologists who do user experience design and user research. I know sociologists, historians, astrologers, etc. so whatever your academic degree or initial interest is in, there’s potentially a role for you. Ultimately, what we’re doing is building worlds and when you’re building worlds that requires a massive range of skills to do something like that.
Finally, and most importantly, think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy most. I’m in my mid 50’s and I can tell you that I’m doing what I absolutely love. It’s very rare you’ll find your dream job in this industry, like most career paths you must work towards a job that’s related to your strongest skill sets so you get into a company. Once you’re inside a company, it’s often much easier to transition laterally to a new job. So, if you want to develop your art skills you can go talk to that team because you’re an employee. You know you can find mentors that way too. Use LinkedIn and other networking tools before even getting into the industry and ask people if they’ll give you some time to ask questions. I run a lot of industry events and most people like sharing what they do so don’t be shy to ask.