As we head towards International Women’s Day during this Women’s History Month, I’m reflecting on what it means to me. As CEO of Women in Games, every day is Women’s Day! It’s central to my professional life and at the heart of my personal interests.
Publicly the day is important in bringing sharp focus and attention to equal rights for women, for addressing persistent societal challenges for girls and women and also to celebrate women, in all their diversities and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, or disability.
The day falls in Women’s History Month, which since March 1987 celebrates the often-overlooked contributions of women in history, society, and culture.
For me it means reflecting on ‘our’ history and being hopeful for the future. The women who came before us fought hard for social, political, economic and cultural equity, for fairness in a patriarchal society and we must honour and continue that work.
Within a recent newsletter, Women in Games highlighted ‘The Story of Art without Men’, a groundbreaking publication by Katy Hessel. In 2015 as a recent arts graduate, Katy walked into an art fair and out of thousands of art works presented, not a single one was by a woman. Her question was ‘why was this?’ She describes that immediately afterwards she entered ‘women artists’ into Instagram and nothing appeared which made her angry, frustrated and motivated. The debate on the lack of women recognised as significant artists has been an ongoing debate since the 1970’s, but what she recognised was that fundamentally nothing much had changed by the 2000’s. A study published in 2019 found that in a collection of 18 major US art museums, 87 per cent of artworks are by men.
I have felt the same anger, frustration and motivation about The Story of Women in Games.
Video games are part of the long lineage of play and games, of art and design, of maths, science, and technology…all areas of culture humankind have been engaged in for centuries. The makeup of this ‘lineage’ is complex and contains – the history of play – the history of games – the history of theme parks and public entertainment – the history of art and design – the history of code and programming – the history of sound – the history of illusion. As in other cultural spheres, which contain multiple influences and histories, there is often one ‘hidden’ history, that of women.
Whilst there is more attention, more debate, some excellent role models, a few books on women in games and their contributions, a few exemplary games with brilliantly drawn female characters, along with some incredible playful experiences created by women, the history and impact still remains largely under-explored and fully expressed.
We must change this. And it’s just one reason why our work and that of our community remains vital.
We look forward to reading about your own International Women’s Day activities and hope that you can join us the day after, on Thursday March 9th, at the Women in Games Careers, Development & Networking Expo. If you’ve not registered already, you can sign up for free here.
We’ll see you there for a day of learning, inspiration and networking!
Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO, Women in Games