The Lack Of Women Presenters At The PS4 Event Is Bigger Than Sony

The consensus on last week's post about the lack of women presenters at Sony's PS4 event was rather uniform: there were no women at the PlayStation 4 reveal, because obviously there aren't women in high positions and the project leads just happen to be male.

"The reason there were no women on-stage is because the presidents and developers who happened to develop the software being presented happened to be male," wrote commenter hsuadfhaspodhf on Kotaku. "It is not part of some sexist agenda, it just so happens that the people behind the creation of the content being presented happened to be men."

To add to that, a common perception seems to be that there aren't women in high positions like the project leads that were featured, so that's why it happened. That's just the reality, some people said, while ignoring why things like that happen in the first place and what it has to do with gender.

Yesterday, noted developer Kellee Santiago — formerly of Thatgamecompany, behind recent PlayStation indie darling, Journey — tweeted these things:

Hmm, that doesn't quite gel with the common perception, does it? I reached out to Kellee to see if she'd be willing to elaborate on the subject. Here's what she said:

I think it's time for us as an industry to tale some responsibility in how we represent ourselves. Like the DICE awards had one woman....not even proportional to the industry itself, much less any attempt to be more inclusive! And I got weary with many of the comments to your article that it's just because there don't happen to be women in these positions, and we should get over it. Someone on my FB said it well, that as small as it still might be, there IS much more diversity in game development now, but the representation remains the same and I think that speaks to why we feel more frustrated this year than in the past.

The truth is, some percentage of the people that tuned in yesterday to get excited about the new console were women. And yet again, we were told "Not by you, not for you." It feels like the industry should be past this by now, no?

Emphasis mine.

I've reached out to Sony for comment on the situation, but in the meantime, it seems worth saying that the conversation — for me at least — isn't so much to say Sony or PS4 developers are sexist. That's an easily derailed conversation that will revolve around disputing what type of companies these are.

There were no women presenters. You can argue to hell and back over what type of company Sony or developers for the PS4 are, but the reality remains the same: there were no women presenters and it wasn't for a lack of having women executives. A cursory LinkedIn search can show you that much.

Noticing this fact isn't a call for affirmative action, and it's not about getting enraged about sexism.

It's about opening up an conversation as to why this happens at events like the PS4 unveil — perhaps, to talk about women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and maths) and the issues they face. Because whether or not there are some women working in these fields, there still aren't enough, and it's an issue. There are entire programs created by educational institutions and the government to get more women in these fields-because yes, it's a problem.

There are fewer women in these field than men, and they earn less, to boot. Recent years have seen a decline in female representation, according to a survey Harvey Nash.

Writing about that survey for Forbes, Meghan Casserly says:

Just nine per cent of US chief information officers (CIOs) are female, down from 11 per cent last year and 12 per cent in 2010. According to Reuters, 30 per cent of the 450 American tech executives polled said their IT groups have no women at all in management positions. What's more, when the same group of executives was asked whether women were underrepresented, roughly one half said no.

The reason why this happens is not clear, though there are many theories. The study by the ESA here postulates the following:

The underrepresentation of women in STEM majors and jobs may be attributable to a variety of factors. These may include different choices men and women typically make in response to incentives in STEM education and STEM employment

For example, STEM career paths may be less accommodating to people cycling in and out of the workforce to raise a family or it may be because there are relatively few female STEM role models. Perhaps strong gender stereotypes discourage women from pursuing STEM education and STEM jobs.

While this report does not and cannot explain why gender differences in STEM exist, it does aim to provide data and insight that will enable more informed policymaking. The findings provide definitive evidence of a need to encourage and support women in STEM with a goal of gender parity.

Given the high quality, well paying jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, there is great opportunity for growth in STEM in support of American competitiveness, innovation and jobs of the future.

You might note that, crucially, one of the factors the ESA lists is a lack of role models. And as the PS4 event shows us, the role models that do exist? They're less visible thanks both to smaller numbers, and in some ways, outright erasure.

Because what else would you call wrongly saying there are no women in high positions in game development except erasure?


Comments

    REALLY?!
    REALLY, REALLY?!
    My god...

      Pretty much my reaction too, with a classic facepalm.

      My reaction was somewhat similar...except I had an additional "f*****g" in between "My" and "God".

      Can they prove that Sony DELIBERATELY and ACTIVELY chose not to feature women?? Or did Sony merely happen to choose the most skilled or capable presenters and they happen to be men?

      Seriously, do they also need to find a gay employee and put them on stage at every event they hold? What about an Asian? American Indian? Oh, how about a Muslim? And an Atheist too?

      This is a retarded argument and is only making feminism look bad

    This is stupid. If they did not have a black person on stage does that make them racist? Why does something always supposedly have to have an ulterior motive.

    There were no tacos at the event either. OMG Sony must hate Mexicans.

    Seriously, is "journalism" now just making up bullshit for the sake of a headline and "hits" rather than actual news.

    Last edited 24/02/13 11:38 am

      She makes a lot of noise over non-stories. Patricia Hernandez is doing a huge disservice to other women in games, by only approaching it in the most juvenile and simplistic manner. Watch gameplay/game event > count females > bitch. This doesn't solve anything, it just distracts us from the real issues with inconsequential shit.

      Patricia Hernandez is probably just using Kotaku as a personal soapbox to put "Gaming Feminist Pioneer" on her CV To leverage into another job. Too bad she's toxic, can't write for squat, and everyone who reads her articles instantly loathes her. It's 'clickbait', but if you're pushing out an article every 20 minutes, make it small pieces of interesting, digestible news. Don't try to shove a misguided agenda down our throats.

        I agree, these feminist, petty and juvenile articles claiming sexism at every turn are getting old quick. And are do not belong here. The lack of women presenters is bigger then Sony? Yeah right :-/

        you've got her completely wrong. she's writing about serious gender issues in gaming solely so she can shove it down your throat.

        @Strand, this comment could match any number of her other articles, but I don't feel this one quite deserves it. At least this article takes things past shallow symptoms and starts to reveal some of the under-workings of the gaming industry.

        If the presence of women working in gaming is still far less then men, isn't that something we might want to look at? How might the games industry benefit from the added diversity? Nobody's saying Sony purposefully avoided having women presenters, but if they had the numbers to do it, and thought to, it could have been an encouraging gesture.

        Of course that last paragraph lashing out with 'erasure' just threw any chance of conversation. Poor form :(

        Last edited 26/02/13 8:37 am

    People called this article from the start. Patricia is the blurst.

    Things are better now for women than they were say ten years ago.
    In another ten years things will likely better still. Things will gradually get better.
    And that's great. But hardly worth the numerous articles this feminism/sexism stuff is spawning.

    This smells a little like damage control to me but whatever.

    I have not looked at that Linkedin link because I don't have an account with them, but just because there are women execs at Sony doesn't mean they could have been an appropriate choice with regards to presenting new technology.

    It is equally likely that they work departments that wouldn't be useful in presenting the PS4, like HR or Distribution or any of the many facets of the Sony corporation (seeing as Sony makes a hell of a lot of products other than the PS4, not to mention all the support departments like HR and Legal and retail management etc).

    There are a huge number of departments in Sony that would have nothing to do with gaming, so as far as I am concerned the argument that there might not have been any women who could have presented the PS4 could still be valid.

    Of course, anyone with a Linkedin account is welcome to refute anything I have just said.

      Was thinking the same thing (I also don't have an account to look). I worked in a department where there were quite a few women in high positions; we did a lot of large projects for a variety of clients. Some of our areas (mainly long-term contracts) had female leads, while others (often one-off construction projects) were mainly populated by men, since they came from construction backgrounds (ex-tradies etc) which is a male-dominated field. So some clients wouldn't even know we had women in positions of power, others would think nothing but. It's all a matter of perspective.

      Of course then you could say "why aren't there more women in the construction industry", which parallels the "why aren't there more women in the video games industry". I'm frankly a bit annoyed that these articles seem to have their heart in the right place, but the real, important message is being lost with almost flame-bait material like "why didn't they use women from such and such position". It's inciting annoyance from readers and distracting them from the real issues.

    "They’re less visible thanks both to smaller numbers, and in some ways, outright erasure".

    I'm not about to say there isn't a problem with female representation at the high end of the corporate structure, and I was agreeing with a lot of what this article was saying, but that last paragraph went and ruined everything. This kind of fingerpointing isn't helping anything, it's not opening a discussion, it's just throwing wild accusations around and distracting from the real bigger issues.

    Last edited 24/02/13 11:49 am

    I don't think organisations should need to make an effort to field a politically correct public presentation group. If all is going well in regards to equal opportunity, a diverse group will emerge by default.

    What I think is a bigger consideration was that the people who just happened to be the relevant people to speak about the project were all male. It seems to me if an organisation did have equal opportunities, then there would be an roughly even split by default. There would be no need to ask the question "Are we fielding a diverse group?" because it already would be by default.

      It is entirely possible to toss a coin ten times and get heads every time.

      You're mostly right, but equal opportunities still does not mean an even split by default.
      What if a company just happens to receive more male applicants than females?

      Equal opportunity would dictate that applicants will be employed based on skill and not gender, hence through the wonders of statistics the company would magically consist of mostly male employees.

      Patricia and everyone else who is in support of this particular case is definitely NOT fighting for equal opportunity...they are fighting for selective opportunity in favour of womenfolk.

      Last edited 25/02/13 11:45 pm

      Not all is going well in equal opportunity though. You have a reasonable but idealistic view, it's simply not how things work yet. Things don't just improve on their own.

      The article was somewhat sensationalist but Patricia's heart is in the right place. It'd really encourage some women to actually make the step and enter the game industry if they saw a woman presenting at a high profile event like this. More people joining the industry means bigger pool to find the best talent for development jobs. Good for the industry, and closer to that ideal dream.

    Also, "well paid jobs in the field of science... maths" That is pretty amusing. Most of my friends work in science or have just finished various science degrees and there's bugger all jobs for them, let alone well paid ones.

      https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7078003456/hDC6DA908/

    What a shocking article, though it's sure to bring the traffic in. We see plenty of women at e3 each year, and other large conferences like TED. If a woman was directing my game I sure as hell wouldn't want them acting like you are Patricia; it would just be full of mundane political correctness.

    Seriously?? I hate being ropes into these by the way it's written, but why not...

    If Patricia believes what she writes in this article then how about you try this ok?

    1. Find out if for EVERY presenter/ person on stage that night has a female counterpart in that position at each respective company.

    2. Once you do... Don't go complain to Sony about it, go and complain to each dev and ask them ALL why a female wasn't on stage.

    This article is weak journalism. You really COULD do more about it and do more research, but instead you use blanket words and overreaching point with no real back up.

    If you can do what I suggested then we have something tangible to go on. But this article is junk! Sloppy... But hey, whatever gets hits right?

    It actually pisses me off that somethin that DOES probably need to be looked into more is being used cheaply and being half assed

    Why is this even remotely an issue? I bet these people would complain if there is 10 men and ONLY 9 females. Its like every show with a group of protagonists, there always has to be a female and black person in the group otherwise its racist and sexist.

      Which is why every education facility has that PC picture on their website with as many race/gender combinations as they can fit.

      Last edited 24/02/13 11:58 am

    These articles hardly address issues related to gender in the industry. Rather, they nitpick and point the finger at others for trivial things just to make a little noise.

    Women have featured predominately in major gaming presentations and E3 for decades now.

    For this conference, the people necessary to project Sony's future plans were male.

    It's not a sexist agenda. It's just common sense.

    And how long will it take for people to say, "I'm so disappointed in Kotaku readers!" just because they disagree with the author? I'm guessing it won't take long.

    I'm sorry, but saying something is sexist just because someone decides to write a victimist article about it doesn't make it so.

    The fact Sony has female execs suggests that, erm, it's not sexist at all.

    "Sony didn't have female presenters! We must discuss this! They might be sexist (but I won't say they are directly, just to remain diplomatic). Here: Look! They have female execs that didn't present. Disgraceful!"

    Epic LOLs. Sony probably does more for gender issues in games than this author could ever hope to achieve.

    Has the author even contacted or made a call-out for female Sony execs? Very curious to see if they subscribe to this frustrating commentary.

    I, for one, am outraged that Shigeru Miyamoto is not a woman.

    I clicked the article. You win, Patricia. You win.

    Damn, if only they'd thought to keep a token female presenter to please the politically correct crowd. Then there's a chance Patricia would only be harping on them for not having any black presenters or something.

    Nah, then she'd be questioning why there wasn't a precisely equal amount of female presenters, who am I kidding?

    I'm sure someone at Sony -decided- against the inclusion of any females, for sure. Seems like a good publicity move to me, what with the existance of journalists like Patricia who seek out the sexist ulterior motives in just about everything.

    Next time anyone does a presentation, make sure you have at least one black Mexican Asian Indian (etc etc on races) female presenter to make sure no one is left out. Because at the presentation, its not what you are presenting its the person that is presenting that really matters

    oh em gee... so what? making it so big of a deal...

    I still believe that the lack of female presenters has less to do with sexism and more to do with the choosing the most knowledgeable people to represent the companies and products/games.
    Personally I would like to see Patrica write an article showing us which female employees could have replaced the male presenters. This would show any female employees with similar experience and credentials compared to their male counterparts, which in turn would either give evidence to the sexist argument or show that the males were chosen for their expertise. Of course, this is all assuming such an article was well researched and didn't mainly comprise of other peoples tweets or reek of sensationalism.

      Exactly what I said... This shouldn't be too hard should it?

        It shouldn't be too hard for someone who's interested in writing a well researched and thought provoking article and not some sensationalistic drivel. But given Patrica's track record of focusing more on the latter than the former... >_>

      Bang-on, mate.

      Perhaps their male execs were just better at public speaking. Shit, maybe the female execs were too nervous to do the presentation. There's any number of explanations as to why there weren't any.

      Last edited 24/02/13 1:25 pm

        It looks to me like the exec from MediaMolecule has a chip on her shoulder because Sony didn't want anything from media molecule in the event.

        I wonder if their is any fallout for her for publicly dissing her publisher for not picking her on the team...

    There are several times more female teachers than there are male teachers in Australia. Does that mean men are being discriminated against? Does that mean the higher-ups have a hidden anti-men agenda?

    Or, does it mean that for whatever reason, teaching doesn't appeal to men as much as it does women?

    I mean-- WHERE WERE THE EMUS ON STAGE?!?

      Working for the Education Department, I can honestly tell you, female teachers are incredibly sexist and don't even realise it.

    Also, Patricia, you have quite obviously used a vague LinkedIn search to enhance the worth of your article. Searching "Sony computer entertainment", will bring up ANYONE with that in their profile, including references from a Sony worker. That search query has an ex-IGN editor in the first few queries.

    You probably should have linked to this, a more accurate depiction of female Sony execs:

    http://us.playstation.com/corporate/about/management/

    Why would they include the HR manager in a Playstation 4 presentation?

    This article is akin to social coercion. Militant trouble making at its finest.

    Next time on bad journalism, Presentation gets called out for having a female spokes woman as sexist and using women as sex objects to sell product.

      yeah she better have a hot model

      better call jessica nigri

      or some other blonde big titted nerd out!

      imagine having some skank unveil the PS4

    Looking at this issue with a fresh set of eyes - yes I agree there is an issue about females not being represented in the video game industry.

    But l looking back at how it got that way, when I was growing up video games were seen and interpreted as a young boys activity. Now those young boys have grown up, it's been engrained into them that it's a 'young boys activity' (and still is) so is it any wonder boys/grown up boys feel resistance that females are on the scene now?

      Of all the forums I've been an active member of, I've never come across a single male gamer who has been pissed off about women getting into gaming. If anything, the male gamers I have interacted with have welcomed me as a gamer rather than shunned me as a woman. Having said that though, I rarely play against strangers online, so perhaps that's where all this "resistance" is coming from. :P

      Orrrrr,

      When video gaming was in its infancy (not long ago) it was almost exclusively men in the field. A by product of the time really. These men that are still in the field are in the positions they are from 20-30 and sometimes more years of experience and have gotten to where they are by working their way there. Now there are far more women in the field it will eventually mean they will get higher up into these positions.

      Hell, you already have Amy Hennig, whose absence is quite easily explained by the fact that Naughty Dog was absent as well (sadly).

      What about Jade Raymond! I hear you cry. Why didn't Ubisoft use her! They're sexist! Or the fact that Ubisoft Montreal is developing Watch Dogs not Ubisoft Toronto, of which she is the managing director.

      There's women there. Just not in the positions with what was presented. As time goes by more women who are working will get these positions and you'll see more.

      Last edited 24/02/13 1:02 pm

    would love to hear what these female sony execs have to say.

      They'll say the same stuff the male execs do. Who cares about the mouthpiece, its about the message- which is 'buy this console'. I'm sick of the PC police intruding on one of the last bastions of PC free entertainment- gaming.

      I honestly don't care who presents what. They could have had Germain Greer presenting the PS4 for all I care, but just because she or any other woman wasn't on stage it doesn't warrant the feminist inquisition.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now