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Women in Esports

Women in Esports – A Paper to summarise and address the underrepresentation of women in all aspects of esports.

The esports industry is male dominated. The number of women working in any role in esports or playing esports is estimated to be about 5% or 1 in 20.

Steph “missharvey” Harvey is one of the most successful gamers in the world. She says that the number of women in e-sports is as low as 5% and the main reason is the stereotype attached to gamers. “It’s still a ‘boy’s club’ so as a woman you’re automatically judged for being different. The way I get harassed is about what they would do to my body, about why I don’t deserve to be there because I use my sexuality – it’s all extremely graphic.” BBC Technology News 21 Nov 2016.

Women in Games WIGJ seeks to use its experience in promoting gender diversity in video, online and mobile games to help encourage more diversity in esports.
Many professionals in the esports industry understand that encouraging more women to participate in the industry, both on stage and behind the scenes, is critical for the commercial success of the industry as well as promoting a socially responsible sector. However, up until now, there is little or no information available, or readily accessible on how to do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invited to participate in an Experts Discussion on “Increasing female interest and participation in esports careers” at the inaugural Global Esports Forum by Intel/ ESL on 1st March 2018, 4 leaders from women in games groups in the UK, France, Germany and Italy drafted a set of recommendations in a Paper which are now being published.

The 4 leaders were David Smith Founder of Women in Games WIGJ, Audrey Leprince, Founder of Women in Games France, Ruth Lemmen, Co-Founder of the Womanise! Conference in Germany and Micaela Romanini, Founder of Women in Games Italy

The Executive Summary of this Paper is reproduced below.

Women in Esports Katowice Workshop Recommendations for Intel/ESL and all interested parties.

Executive Summary

1. Women’s esports needs to be seen as a “product” in its own right and not a by-product or add-on, or proving ground for the existing male dominated industry which has grown up with the majority of attention paid to the men’s game. This is not a segregation of men’s and women’s esports, as girls at school being directed by teachers and those women who want and choose to compete with men, should be encouraged to continue to play in an open environment. A distinct women’s esports product is a short term expedient to grow significantly the esports global audience.
2. Intel/ ESL and other market leaders are encouraged to make board level appointments in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific to take responsibility for developing the women’s esports product. “Product Directors”
3. Product Directors responsible for the women’s esports product should be set and agree targets to decrease the “gender awareness gap” and the “gender turn-off” gap on a country by country basis and given sufficient resources to achieve the targets.
4. Data and analytics needs to be defined and built in to tournament software to capture and track gender statistics objectively over time and measure progress in all areas like sign ups and tournament results.
5. Women’s esports Product Directors should be asked to work closely with organisations like Anykey but crucially will be able to take part in and intervene in daily management actions in Intel/ ESL and other market leaders to bring more focus to the needs of their Product.
6. Anykey is a well-respected, advisory Centre of Excellence and its budget should be protected.
7. A significant investment in marketing to reach the non-core audience is needed to promote the spectacle and successes of the small numbers of women in esports and demonstrate that esports is for women as well as men.
8. Linked to the need for promotional opportunities, there is a need to increase significantly the number of women only tournaments and leagues which will grow both the audience and player base and give more opportunities to develop women staff in areas like desk host, analyst, shoutcasters and off stage roles.
9. Sponsorship targeting the female esports demographic is untapped. Product Directors should be asked to lead the search for incremental non endemic and endemic sponsors keen to reach the untapped marketing budgets.
10. Additional tournaments, sponsorship and prize money and direct discussions with existing orgs will encourage existing orgs to add and nurture women’s teams to their roster. It will also indirectly inspire and promote the birth of new women’s teams.
11. Direct and co-investment should be considered in schools, universities and esports academies to promote the birth of new women’s teams.
12. Intel/ ESL and other market leaders are encouraged to work with existing women’s groups and national grass roots organisations to build networks and communities fit for a grass roots esports demographic and to provide information and resource for parents, young women and allies to foster the growth of women’s esports.

The full paper is available by email on request from David Smith at david.smith AT womeningames DOT org or any of the above participants.