Only 8.7% Of Those Employed In Australian Digital Games Development Are Women

Only 8.7% Of Those Employed In Australian Digital Games Development Are Women

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a series of raw figures regarding digital game development in Australia during 2011-2012 — how many people were employed, how many games were released. There were some interesting figures, perhaps the most alarming of which was the dramatic drop in people employed in the Australian games industry, but you could argue that was expected. Another alarming number? Under 9% of developers employed are women.

According to the survey, 581 people were employed in the digital games industry in the 2011-12 financial year — 530 men and 51 women. The last time these numbers were released, at the end of 2007, that number was 1,431.

245 digital games were produced during this time, 188 of which were mobile games. Only 14 of the 245 were for consoles, with 27 being made for PC. The revenue brought in by digital games went from $137 million in the 2006-2007 financial year to $89 million.

While this makes for depressing reading, it’s worth mentioning that 2011-2012 was one of the worst years for studio closures in Australia, and it could be argued that the local industry is in the midst of a real resurgence. 2006-2007 was a different time, with a completely different set of circumstances. Hopefully next year’s figures will paint a more optimistic picture of the digital games development in Australia.

That said it is alarming that only 8.7% of those involved in the games industry are female. More alarming is the fact that number is actually decreasing. At the end of 2007, when the last set of numbers were released that percentage was slightly higher at 10.8%.

Perhaps the most troubling issue is this: women simply don’t seem to be applying for jobs in the games industry.

“We’re a fairly new and small game studio,” explained Rohan Harris, co-founder of Flat Earth Games, “but we still get cold applications every week or so from developers looking for work. Depressingly, the ratio we’ve found of male to female applicants is about 20:1, and of the female developers who’ve contacted us, only one has been a programmer – the rest have been artists or designers.”

Do women simply not feel comfortable applying for jobs in the games industry? It’s a crucial question. Diversity in development is of paramount importance if we want games to grow as a medium and, at the moment, it seems like that diversity doesn’t exist.

Statistics from the ABS can be found here.


  • Do women simply not feel comfortable applying for jobs in the games industry?

    No, most women just aren’t interested in jobs in the games industry. In my programming course I rarely see girls; and so what? If they’re not interested that’s fine, people are free to do whatever they want in life we can’t try to force girls to get into the industry to make our statistics look good.

    If we keep fretting about this kind of thing, then talented male developers are going to miss out on positions because the HR department wanted more females.

    • Yeah. Gender equality is fine. But when people start expecting better treatment than other people because of their gender then it becomes another form of discrimination. Men and Women equally deserve to get employment.

    • ^This, I’m studying game design now and have only ever had one female in the class (last year – she got bored with the programming and went to do digital media).

      Why not complain there are no females in construction or males in Childcare or nursing? Interest in the industry is the biggest factor in employment figures yet it’s almost always ignored…

      • THIS. You know that there are only 100 integer increments in 100%? If you want to push/entice more women into certain fields traditionally dominated by men, you need to balance that by pushing/enticing more men into fields traditionally dominated by women. Child-care. Teaching. Nursing. Stay-at-home parenting.

      • There’s a shitload of males in nursing and many males in childcare… just sayin’, but I get your point, both areas are still heavily dominated by females, it’s a gender imbalanced profession still, many professions are. Computer programming, gaming or not, is still one too.

      • Not to go too OT, but a lot of men won’t go into childcare because it is considered traditionally a woman’s role and a man being interested in childcare is viewed with suspicion. I think we all know what I am alluding to when I say suspicion.

        I’ve studied mostly in IT and I can say that most classes are overwhelmingly male. It isn’t that women are unwelcome it is that they are uninterested.

    • I agree that HR departments shouldn’t be preferentially choosing an applicant based on their sex, the real problem is getting females interested in fields such as programming and engineering.

      There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that a females should be under-represented in the video game development industry; for a start a game development company is so much more than programmers.

      Game studios need artists, story + script writers, level designers, game designers as well as quality assurance testers as well; Aside from game designers, none of these areas outside of the game development industry suffer from a low number of females; quite the opposite in fact.

      So why should the game development industry be any different? This is the 21st century, and studios would be crazy to ignore such a large bank of largely untapped talent.

      • Shouldn’t we be more interested in getting people jobs in the area that they are interested in? There might be lots of female writers, but if none of them want to write video game stories then why would be push them towards it?

        As the others have said, I’m all for gender equality. If a woman wants to work in the video game industry, and she is suitably qualified and talented, then more power to her. But, pushing people with no interest into an industry is totally redundant.

        • The problem isn’t an inherent lack of interest in the actual work they would do, it’s either that they assume that the work wouldn’t be interesting so don’t apply, or more likely, never crosses their mind about applying to a game development studio. This is the image which the industry needs to turn around.

          This isn’t about forcing females into working in game development, it’s about changing the industry’s image so that a wider variety of people; gender regardless, want to work in the industry.

      • Look, this might be crazy, but I genuinely, honestly believe that the barriers to doing what you’re interested in are less restrictive than ever, but that due to basic physiological differences – not just social conditioning – there are distinct differences in interests between males and females.

        We have different physiology. That physiology has an impact on psychology. We know this. We’ve studied it at length. So why are we so surprised when this manifests in gender representation being skewed to different professions when the barriers are diminished? It can’t just all be lingering cultural bias. The message for pursuing your interests, aggressively, defiantly, is just too strong to keep blaming that.

    • Women are encouraged from birth not to be interested in technical industries. It isn’t a slight against you or anyone in particular, it’s a damning indictment of the way we treat people during their formative years.

      There are plenty of women with the mental capability of becoming programmers, but they end up choosing to do other things because they’ve been quietly but persistently encouraged toward ‘girl’ things and away from ‘boy’ things. There’s no blame in pointing out that there is a problem.

      • You could argue exactly the same thing in other industries with men of course. You can effectively call all upbringing “brainwashing”.

        • You could argue that it happens with men, too. You would be right. You know the whole feminist thing about patriarchy? It has negative effects for men, too. Just look at the ridiculous stuff about Julia Gillard’s partner the other day. He’s a hairdresser so someone thinks he must be gay. – See, that’s a woman’s job. If you aren’t a woman and you do it, you must be gay, which is like a woman – Complete bullshit and completely not cool. It needs to be assessed and our attitudes need to improve on both sides of the coin. That’s without even getting into the fact that anyone who isn’t male or female is treated as sub-human. That’s a whole other can of shit headery.

          Brainwashing is trying to shape a person’s worldview to some sort of sinister end. It requires intent. Any parent who tries to bring up their kids to be free thinking and to question the status quo is doing a pretty rad job.

      • This. This year has been very enlightening at University, researching this sort of issue, discussing gender roles in society and how employment specifically targets genders in certain professions even now. The IT industry is still seen in this day and age as a bit of a ‘boys club’ whether we like to admit it or not, I was an IT worker and can attest to this, women are still in the minority in the IT areas, usually if there are female employees, they’re outnumbered by the males, it’s rare to see a majoritively female IT department at all for instance. Not saying there AREN’T but it would be incredibly rare.

        It’s a holdover from previous times granted and it will take a long time yet to fix, we’re still in the process of it, there’s no ‘instant solution’ but there is a gradual one. Babysteps as they say.

      • Agreed, but not with it being a “damning indictment”.
        The issue is that the current ballance is away from girls being in “technical industries”, therefore representations in the media ect. tend not to show women being programmers ect.
        This leads to girls aspiring to be things other than programmers. The problem here is that to get more women into programming (game or otherwise) would require a lot of social engineering (effectively an orchestrated brainwashing campain) to make girls decide they want to be programmers, I’m not sure this is actually “cool” either.
        There is no “easy solution”, but the current system (In Australia at least) seems to be working, those who are interested have the opportunity, this means that over time perceptions will change as will the ballance, it may take a few generations, but thats the this about social change, it is a slow process.

        • I consider anything that shows how fucked up our socially defined gender roles are is a damning indictment.

          It wouldn’t require social engineering, it would require us to stop the social engineering practices we use every day and have been for a long time. It isn’t about media as such. Media definitely has a role, but the problem is much worse in that it’s far more pervasive. The issue is literally embodied by every one of us every day. We have been conditioned to think things as natural or normal when they are no more intrinsic to people than the ability to read or write.

          There is an easy solution. The solution is to stop gender coding every single part of every single person’s life, especially in childhood. It literally requires us to do less work than we do now. The problem is that the solution is difficult and time consuming to implement. Social and political inertia is incredibly strong and unfortunately for all of us, this kind of thing requires us to question deeply ingrained beliefs, both implicitly and explicitly. It’s easy in that it requires no great effort to actually do. It’s difficult in that we are so set in our ways that we need to work hard to unlearn our own bad habits.

          • “how fucked up our socially defined gender roles are” (note: I’m not saying that there aren’t problems) I am not convinced that “our socially defined gender roles” are “fucked up”. the reason for this quickly falls to the age old Nature Vs. Nurture debate (hint the answer is always both). Diferent people have different aspirations based on things they enjoy, some of this issue is probably nature (that will correct over time, if as a race we live long enough), and the rest is nurture.
            As defined by wikipedia “Social engineering is a discipline in social science that refers to efforts to influence popular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale”. This is to say that social engineering is about change, the status quo tends to maintain itself, hence if absolutely nothing is done nothing will ever change. Things are changing (slowly) in Australia, and I agree that they could change faster. Most people I’ve met encourage thier children to be whatever they want to be, but this doesn’t stop other children, people, and the media from influencing them.

            “The solution is to stop gender coding every single part of every single person’s life, especially in childhood” – good luck with that, take Barbie dolls and gi joe figures as examples men are shown primarily as tough and active, women being showed primarily as “pretty”. This is the status quo. I’m not sure Social Engineering to try to change things is cool (it tends to be like mass brainwashing), but there are currently initiatives specifically targetting women to get them into programming (mostly by the open source community).

            “It literally requires us to do less work than we do now” If that were true there would be no problem, to do nothing maintains the status quo, as we do not need to think about it…. and I think people (Male and Female) tend to go this, no thought, path of least resistance all too often.

            So I again say to make changes to the current system requires significant work, at this point I am fairly certain that changes are coming regardless, they may not be fast enough for some peoples liking though.

          • The status quo requires us to make arbitrary distinctions in order to maintain it. Doing less work to codify gender would change it.

            Do you honestly think a society stagnates when nobody tries to engineer change on a macro level? Pretty ssure culture changes just fine organically. The engineering is trying to steer thst change. Im ok witg engineering an environment with minimal discrimination.

    • You hit the nail on the head. If women dont want to be in the industry, its nobodies job to force them just so we can have a 50/50 split. Ridiculous.

  • But how do you know that their isn’t a lack of interest from females and gaming in Australia?

  • I see very few female plumbers, and mostly female workers in hospitality. Does it matter? Hell no.

    • I believe you have totally missed the point. It’s not about affirmative action. HR departments are not giving jobs to women that better qualified men deserve, just to keep the status quo (besides what indie dev in Australia these days can afford an HR dept anyway? ^^).

      It matters very little if your meal is brought to you by a man or a woman, or that your tap washers were changed by a woman rather than a man. But games are creative, much like movies.

      Now imagine if it were the norm that all movies were written, filmed, edited and produced by teams made up of 90% of women.

      As a male, would that be fun for you? 😀

      It’s all about creative diversity.

        • Given gamings demographic has changed in recent years to be a fair balance of males and females, that points fairly redundant now.

      • Actually, he has a point. It may matter MORE in creative industries, but the article above makes a special mention of a lack of female programmers. Programming is not particularly “creative”, someone writes a spec and hands it to you, you write a program to do what they have specified, mostly it’s about logic. I’d argue that more female programmers would effect the gaming industry about as much as more female mechanics would effect the automotive industry.
        What there needs to be to make the difference you are after is more female Designers, Artists, Directors, Writers, Producers, ect. in the industry.

        Personally I’d like to see more female programmers (and plumbers, and mechanics).

  • I don’t see why it matters, or how it’s anyones fault, or why it’s worth worrying about. I mean, it’s not like some big scheme to keep women out of game development, it’s simply that women are less interested in it than men
    It just seems like a dumb thing to worry about, but I guess whenever something, no matter how important, isn’t exactly the same between the sexes, people can’t help making a big deal of it
    EQUALITY, amirite?

    • No, it’s that male behaviour keeps the few that are interested from applying for or staying with the job. My girlfriend has worked and studied in a few traditionally male-dominated industries and the abuse she cops is horrifying. You might be surprised at just how many women want to work in games but are intimidated by the male atmosphere.

      There’s also the problem that with 50% of the population represented in the industry we’re only reaching 50% of the market – or did you think that girls just don’t want to play games?

      This is what patriarchy is about – it’s not a big male conspiracy, it’s about men sitting back and taking as their due that things are the way they should be. And in order to do that we make massive, arrogant assumptions like “women are just less interested”.

      You want to know why women are less interested in games? Check these out.

  • Whenever we have this discussion, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that I’ve only ever met three women who self-identified as gamers in my entire life, one of whom is my fiance (who I pressured into playing coop Borderlands). Every other woman I’ve met’s opinion of gaming has ranged from disinterest (with a bit of snake on the mobile) through to outright sneers or criticism (probably 25% of women). I should point out that most of my friends are women and I work in a heavily female oriented discipline. I used to think it had something to do with the content of games, but I’ve since realised girls my age seem to have similar tastes in movies to guys. What I have noticed is that most women seem to have the same phobia of new tech my dad does, so they buy iPhones and let there partner set up the entertainment centre. I’ll be blowed if I know why.

    • Most research states that women make up very close to half of all gamers. I’m not attacking your comment, which is totally fine 🙂 but yeah, I think there was another piece of research released today saying the same thing…

      • Thanks for the polite response. I am familiar with those stats, which is why I was careful to use the phrase ‘self-identified as a gamer’. As near as I can tell, those fifty percent figures seem to include things like occasionally playing mobile titles or the odd party game when a friend is over. I think its totally legitimate to call such a person a gamer (who am I to decide what a gamer is?), but the person who plays games that way isn’t going to spend a lot of money on the hobby or ultimately choose it as a career either.

      • I hear this statistic every now and again, but I just don’t believe it. And like another poster said, how is this research defining a “gamer”?

        • Almost any of these research articles, a gamer is defined as anyone who plays any game for any period of time. Well that was my experience when I had to read these articles at uni.

          Its along as the same line as the average gamer age in Australia is 33 or 36, forget which. It includes any type of games, even snake.

          That being said, when considering these statistics, ask yourself this one simple question. How many times have I been asked these research/statistic questions? The sample size is usually pretty small ( only a few thousand )

        • Anyone who has an interest in playing video games really, I mean what elitest kind of attitude is it that stops one being a gamer at say, liking Angry Birds? If you like Borderlands but hate COD, are you more of a Gamer than Bob over there for loving COD and loathing RAGE? He loves DOOM 3, but abhores PAINKILLER, are you more of a… you get the point I hope. One must merely like playing games. That’s all. A gamer, likes playing games.

          • Its not really about what games you play, that makes a person a gamer. It is their attitude towards gaming.
            If a person has purchased their own games, buys DLC, reads reviews, plays demos, then that person probably sits comfortably in the gamer camp. Just like any sort of title though, there is definately a spectrum.

          • That’s kind of what I was saying there… that the games don’t matter. A gamer merely has to enjoy playing videogames, there are no real prerequisites.

          • Thing is, amongst enthusiast groups and their critics, the term ‘gamer’ carries the connotation of ‘gaming fan’. The implication that as a self-identified ‘gamer’ you are an enthusiast.

            It’s like someone might sing along to Mariah Carey from the radio in the car, but not call themselves a Mariah Carey fan because they wouldn’t have a clue what else she’s sung, and never bought an album. There’s a difference between ‘person who likes that one song’ and ‘person who follows the artist’, and it’s clearly distinguished within the language. ‘Gamer’ is not. Some people read, ‘person who plays a game’, others read, ‘person who is enthusiastic about gaming’.

            Obviously to us, those two types of gamer are NOT the same thing now, but once upon a time in many folks’ eyes (due to the barriers in accessibility) they were – hence the use of the label in its current form.

      • I agree with this (I know heaps of females who enjoy gaming, be it only coop stuff with friends/boyfriends or PC MMOs, whatever) yet none of them have any interest in developing them. I will never be able to explain why.
        Even my sister who loves gaming, design, a bit of coding, etc has only ever been interested in digital media and more recently publishing.

        Any guy I ask seems to think making games would be like a dream while just about all women seem to think it sounds interesting but kinda boring. It’s something I’ve honestly been confused by for years.

        “I love games”
        “Why not work on them? You love graphic design”
        “No thanks…I’d rather just do ‘standard design/animation/websites/comics/insert anything other then games here’, I just like playing games.”

      • I have seen/heard numbers like this for years, and I don’t dispute that nearly half of all gamers are girls, but it is quite obvious that they just aren’t all that interested in actually creating games for the most part. This is evident from my college years, and also working in the industry. During my study days, we only had 2 girls in our classes for game dev. Yet if you looked over at the multimedia course, there was a lot more girls in those classes. Having worked in the industry, I can say that I rarely saw any female devs, but there are definitely a few out there. Now whether that’s because they just weren’t being hired, or just a lack of interest, I can’t really say, but going by what I’ve seen in terms of females attending courses about game dev, I’d day it’s pretty much right on par.
        That said though, most of the female devs I know are supremely good at what they do!

      • Mark, that statistic is dysfunctional because it considers anyone with a mobile device. My mum is technically a gamer because she plays Farmville.

      • The research does state this…. but what qualifies as a “gamer” in the research is maybe a little overly broad… as it included casual gamers playing games on their phone on the bus ect.
        So it depends on what we call a gamer, basically how elitist do you want to be.
        The research definitely shows that 47% of females play games of some kind, but that does lead to the question of the percentage that are into gaming vs the percentage that play casual games to kill time.
        In truth the same goes for male gamers, and the average age ect… I just think the research had too many false positives due to an overly broad definition to be used like this, as when I think “gamer” I usually think of someone who owns a current gen console or PC and buys games for it, generally the sort that looks forward to particular releases, and buys games on release day (or not long after), basically some-one who is into games…not just killing time playing “cut the rope”, or “where’s my water”.

    • Snake on the mobile? So in other words you haven’t spoken to another woman in 10 years or so?

      Times have changed. Go watch League of Legends streams, tons of women on there.

      • It isn’t women that aren’t interested, it is simply people who have no interest in complicated things.

        Non of my labourer mates have any interest in tech at all, and are dumber than most females I know.

        Women and men are different, we both have different natures.

      • I know people who still play snake. I used it as an example because I couldn’t remember the name of ‘Bejewelled’.

    • I would say it depends on the people you come into contact with. In my own experience, most females I know including myself, my mother and my two sisters play a great deal of “core” games and are far from afraid of new tech.

      • It’s definitely anecdotal, but its almost overwhelming. I sometimes wonder if its an ‘educated woman’ thing. I must know about a thousand women (this is probably an underestimate). A pretty significant proportion have degrees. I tend to ask, but like I said, I’ve only met three women who self-identified as games.

        I think Android vs. iPhone stats suggest there is a big difference in how men and women approach tech products. iPhone does super well with women because it’s marketed at people who want simple.

        I’m not trying to excuse such a skewed breakdown by the way, I just don’t think its a problem with games companies so much as a gender role thing.

        • I believe you just called myself and my family uneducated. 😛

          Basically, I think you’re finding patterns where there may be none. And you don’t sound like you think much of women, either. Even though you mentioned a high number of women you know are highly educated, you still state that women want things simple.

          • I’m a guy and I have an iPhone because it’s simple. It doesn’t make someone stupid to want simple. Technology should just work, and if it doesn’t, that makes it is inferior. I would interpret ‘women want simple technology’ as that they have a better tuned tolerance to failings of technology 😀

          • Sorry about that. I meant that I tend to know mostly educated women, it wasn’t a comment that women who play games aren’t educated. I stand by the fact that as a general tend amongst the people I know, women do seem to prefer simple in their tech products. The sales of various products seem to support this. Also, a preference for simple isn’t the same as stupid or an indication the product is inferior.

  • Its interesting to see samey-samey articles appear, commenting on the number of female participation in the game / tech industry (no offense meant Mark).

    “That said it is alarming that only 8.7% of those involved in the games industry are female.”

    Is there really a need for alarm? I think this can be explained simply:
    1) when I studied IT Network Eng in 2002 @ Tafe, there was one girl in our group, just one. Most girls were studying other courses. Perhaps females are less interested in tech, hmm?
    When I started my Bachelor of Business in UWS 2003, I was one of only 3 males in majority of the subjects. I looked at the IT crowd and found majority male, although there were a few more female students by ’03.
    So it seems women are attracted towards social sciences more (Business etc).

    2) Ever tried to get a job in HR? I worked for 2 years and it is hugely female dominated. My then Manager definitely wanted a bit of diversity to allow greater thinking capacity. As an example, I’d say that men are not straight away attracted to working in corporate HR, although some do. It seems the same can be said of women working in the Tech sector.

    I would think that the changes to our social structures over the last 4 decades and the acceptance of greater tertiary education, gender equality progress have changed the work landscape. More women study and look for jobs, therefore there will be more women working. Expect this to keep moving up. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.
    Some of the rubbish Patricia Hernandez spits out makes me tear my hair out… goodness sake, are we men not born from and raised by our Mothers, do we not have sisters, girlfriends, wives?

    I think the sooner we drop this rubbish about low female representation, the better. It will take time people!!
    Women also need to drop this glass ceiling rubbish. There is no glass ceiling, when you don’t get a job – the is that a big fat wooden or steel door that just slammed shut. And don’t forget, you are probably among men and women who went for a job. Just because one man got it, pls don’t forget your brothers who also had the door slam shut.

    • This. Sometimes people trying too hard to push gender equality issues where it’s not relevant don’t realise that for percentage equality to be achieved in these industries, a big percentage of male /professionally trained in the field/ would have to trade places with the thousands of teachers, nurses, psychologists and similar professionals that are greatly favoured by women.

      Note that I’m not trying to state an unfavourable comparison here. I’m immensely grateful for all our teachers, nurses and others who passionately fill very necessary jobs that statistically are shunned by we, men. I’m only trying to point out that these “alarming” numbers are dressed with a negative bias that they shouldn’t have. It’s not like at the end of high school, all girls are queued in front of a man-only committee where they get slapped on the wrist with a ruler if they profess a desire to follow a career path in the field of IT or similar, as some people would like to believe.

      • @pylgrim said: “It’s not like at the end of high school, all girls are queued in front of a man-only committee where they get slapped on the wrist with a ruler if they profess a desire to follow a career path in the field of IT or similar, as some people would like to believe.”

        Seriously? Now you are being a drama queen and silly. Of course this doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean that parents, career advisors, your peers, siblings and boyfriends don’t have an impact on a girl’s career path.

        When I left school, me and my three best girlfriends who all wanted to work in games were told by our teachers and career advisors that it’s not really a career for women. Even our parents suggested that we instead choose something ‘stable’ like accounting, hospitality or business administration, which we all ended up doing. Yet two years later my younger brother was totally encouraged to do a game degree, and has now been working in the games industry for 4 years.

        So unless you are a girl yourself, I highly doubt that you can understand or empathise that there are indeed barriers to females entering the games industry, and that’s not game companies preventing us – this happens even before we leave school!

        It takes a lot of guts and determination (and some growing up on my part and realising that I do have the ability) to finally realise years later that I am no less capable than my little brother. Last year, finally at the age of 28, I quit my job at an insurance firm and am now a game developer.

        • Your story is awesome and inspirational because it shows that in the end you need to make up your own mind and follow your own path in life, as opposed to one which others create for you.

          In your case, dare I say it was the equivalent of me asking my parents to study nursing. It’s something that a large amount of people are conditioned to disdain simply because society dictates so and they have silly prejudices.

          But that’s a problem with our parents and not with the gaming industry itself as I’m sure you found out now that you’re involved with it.

          The industry itself is very open to females. In fact there are many awesome females working in the gaming industry.

          The systemic problem comes down to the fact that people are indoctrinated to think a certain way from a young age and women, as a whole, are generally not attracted to gaming.

          I tip my hat to those that are, because they’re awesome and we need and want more of them. 🙂

        • Hi. I apologise that I didn’t thread carefully enough. Of course that there is some social conditioning, but this is nothing new, nor something relegated only to women. Many would-be-artists (or writers, or the ilk) are pressured by their parents and society to follow more “respectable” and stable career paths such as medicine or law. Men themselves, in some societies are almost forced to follow “manly” professions, preferably on the same field as their fathers. It is up to every single person, man or woman, to stand up to parents and society and risk the loss of several benefits for the sake of their true calling.

          Also, you fail to account to the fact that you are an exception, rather than the rule. Most of my good female friends, who went into professions such as the one I mentioned are actually passionate about that stuff and it’s often the case of the women that follow such paths. The problem with our modern approach to gender equality is that it would have all semblances of difference between the sexes completely eradicated in the name of egalitarianism, but the truth is that we are very different! And these differences do not make one sex or the other inferior, they are something to be cherished, not scorned!

          Women naturally have an inclination for career paths that involve the nurturing, healing and raising of other human beings and that’s awesome! And yes, some other would not have those inclinations and would rather follow other paths. Well, a bit of opposition could be expected as in the case of men who don’t feel like following traditional male, “provider” careers. It is up to each person to fight to find their own place in the world, especially those who refuse to fulfil a naturally/socially allocated role, as you did.

          It is a complex, personal topic, filled with nuance and shades of grey. That’s why I dislike alarmist usage of numbers out of context to prove divisive points.

  • My Computer Science degree was a sausage fest. Admittedly that was over 10 years ago (I’m so old) so maybe things have changed now, but people are going to apply for whatever interests them.

    There certainly weren’t any barriers to women applying for those sorts of courses, they just didn’t seem to be doing it.

  • I think dismissing it as “well women aren’t interested then” is ignoring the underlying issue of gender roles in society. eg girls being raised to think engineering, science etc is lame and nerdy and being a fashion model is like totally a million times better. (Obviously that’s a generalisation and I applaud parents who teach their children the value of using their mind regardless of gender etc etc).

    There’s also the issue of what women have to put up with in many male-dominated fields, but that has been addressed in the past by people more learned than I.

    • I wonder if there’s some important distinction between ‘hairdresser’ and ‘barber’ there. The guy I have cutting my hair is a ‘hairdresser’ if you note the sign on the shop, but his core business during the lunch hour is office-working guys getting ‘short bank and sides’ or razors all over like myself, and he does a superior beard trim to anywhere else I’ve been.

  • So, it’s not that women are made to feel unwelcome, or punished for being gamers, or accused of being fake gamer girls, or have their gender used as a basis for verbal attack on a regular basis, or are regularly the recipient of unwelcome sexualised attention from poorly socialised men with a sense of entitlement, or, maybe, are just encouraged by a fundamentally flawed societal concept of “correct” gender roles to not pursue careers in the gaming industry… No, it’s none of that, apparently. It’s that they’re just not interested.

    • Your comment would carry a lot more weight if you deleted the second, irrational, half. Also, go further down the page and read pokedad’s comment about his (arguably worse) experience as a male primary school teacher. Or any of the others from male nurses any time this tired old topic has come up.

      The perception of gender roles in professions is an issue as old as professions themselves. If there’s no discrimination by the employer, and if the university figures are right, everything is being done that should, outside of all of us getting together and chanting, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all nice?”

      It’s certainly not alarming. It’s predictable. It’s understandable (not to be confused with ‘fair’ or ‘approved of’). It’s the same as any other industry. It’s in step with how the world currently works. If someone says ‘they’re not interested’ it should probably be taken in the context of, “…in line with societal expectations.” Just like everything else we do, ever.

      Because good luck inspiring change in societal expectations with a few caps locked hostile rants.

      • Wait, so we shouldn’t try and change it? That seems a pretty weak attitude. Also, to clarify – Pokedad’s “arguably worse” male teacher problem is the same problem we’re discussing. Ever heard the phrase “the patriarchy hurts us all”? It’s because these stupid “approved gender roles” affect men and women who try and push against them.
        However, I guess – according to you – Pokedad, men in “traditional carers” roles, stay home dads and pretty much any women who’s ever tried to have a career, ever, should just suck it up because “it’s always been that way”.
        See, this is why I use capslock. Because rational debate seems to have failed miserably – all I have left is the barbaric yawp of my impotent rage and staggering disbelief at the mix of wilful ignorance and just plain malicious attitudes I see. I shout, just so I don’t lie awake at night, cursing myself for my silence.

  • Honestly the predictable comments on this page are truly disappointing. Mark isn’t complaining or accusing employers of favouring men, he is stating a point and by the way if it wasn’t seen as interesting, the ABS wouldn’t have specifically reported on it.

    Men and women think differently in general and often tackle challenges or ideas differently. If only 8.7% of the workforce in Australia is female then that diminishes the opportunity that you get female input into a game. And don’t worry, your DUDEBRO shooter isn’t going to get toned down by a female.

    You know that massive game series Uncharted? one of the creative directors was female. Just to give you an idea that introducing females into the development process actually can have significant positives. Females tend to be better at drawing on emotion and portraying it (Just like Amy did with Uncharted) and so by having potentially females working on games it can only make them better…

    There was a time where females were confined to the home and seen by society as people who have no workforce value (i am talking a long time ago here… but still) yet over the years society has come to realise that females are an incredibly valuable resource in the workforce. And they are. The amount of times during my working life i have been able to improve what i was working on by asking a female colleague for advice is immeasurable. Google just hired a female as its CEO in Australia. Yahoo has a female CEO etc etc.

    Remember that awesome game journey? Female worked on it and its fair to say that potentially the emotional experience wouldn’t have been the same had a female not worked on it. Thatgamecompany is amazing but I am sure Robin makes it even better.

    I guess my point is that yes there are traditional gender dominated workforces but it doesn’t have to be this way. And there is clear issues that come to the fore when these attitudes are displayed. Perhaps females don’t become plumbers because they know that society will view them differently. I have no doubt there are people out there that wouldn’t hire a plumber because she is female, its sad really.

    I will admit that in the past I have been on a plane and been ‘shocked’ when i heard a female captain voice as the pilot. But I also remembered admitting to myself that was a dumb thing to do and realised that she is just as good as a male up front. Now i no longer get shocked and actually am pleased to hear a females voice because its something different to the norm.

    It is these stereotypes that are driven into us over time by society, by advertising, by everything but it doesn’t mean its right. There could very well be a good reason why females are not approaching game development. Not because they do not want to but because of the ridiculous one sided gender mentality a lot of the gaming industry has and because of the ridiculous filth and trash that occurs online. Go read Alanah’s story on this very website to see why a female may not join the workforce.

    and i think even females would agree that you should win jobs on merit. If that means a female gets a job over a male, so be it. That’s true gender equality, hiring on results and experience, not on gender quotas (which is NOT the aim of this article or ABS survey….). There are clearly issues that are keeping females from wanting to develop games.

    oh and guys, go read #1reasonwhy on twitter again. You read that as a girl and deciding on a career path? You running as far away from that industry as possible.

    • You made me realise that I have never flown on a commercial flight with a female pilot, and I fly semi-frequently (average once a month) for work. And there’s not real reason why this should be the case.

  • I thi k it’s purely cultural. We still live in a world where men and women feel they have certain roles or are better suited to certain vocations. Monkey see, monkey do. Like many other industries, I think women are less interested in making games because they’ve grown up in a culture that says it’s not really a thing women do. As time goes on and more women are seen in the industry, hopefully this cultural programming’s influence erodes.

    My wife is doing a wood working course and she was surprised that there’s half a dozen other girls in the course operating heavy machinery and I was thinking how much I can’t wait for the day that this kind of thing is no longer a surprise.

  • Does that picture look seriously creepy to anyone else? Or is it just me?

    Similar comments to others above. Doing Computer Science at uni, there were maybe ten girls in a class of around 60 or so at the start of the course. By the time we hit final year, I think we were down to about three out of 30-40. And now doing a games programming course, last year there was a single female programmer in the second year group, and in our group of about 50, none. The year group below us has none either. Plenty of them in the arts course though.

      • My biggest problem is how are they both paying on one screen with a gamecube and a ps2 controller?

        How? I’ll tell you how: Magic. Creepy, black magic. Probably involving corpses and stuff.

  • Shock horror! Less than 8% of laser hair removal workers are male (made that figure up – I am guessing its a lot less, using this example as I am pretty sure that there are heaps of males who go to one – I know I do!)

    Quick! Write an article about it

    Like others have said, people do what they interested in. This whole gender bias crap really needs to stop

  • As someone who has worked in the local industry for almost 10 years, I can vouch for the fact that you don’t see a lot of female developers in this industry.

    I’ve worked with a total of TWO female programmers. The rest have been artists or designers, or working in admin/HR.

    But that’s fine. It’s obviously not something that interests them…at least the programming side of it. I don’t think it’s a huge deal…certainly not an “alarming” statistic as Mark put it. I’m personally more alarmed by the overall numbers.

    I knew times were tough (I myself have been on the receiving end of studio closures recently) but employment in this industry in Australia is a third of what it was 5-6 years ago. THAT’s alarming.

  • Why does it matter? Because men are primarily responsible for creating media that both men and women consume. This perpetuates many unhealthy attitudes towards women that may not otherwise happen if women were more involved the creative process.

    It definitely leads to more of a “boys club” atmosphere surrounding gaming than TV and movies. This would be fine if the men who played them lived on a planet where they never had to interact with women. But this is not the case.

    I’m not saying that it’s a disaster that there are not more female involvement in the gaming industry, but all other “oh noes” responses are sticking their heads in the sand.

    • This would be fine if the men who played them lived on a planet where they never had to interact with women. But this is not the case.
      I dunno, sometimes I’m not so sure…

    • The ‘life imitates art’ argument is the only one I can see as a good reason why it’s an imbalance we should even worry about. The ‘ohnoes’ crowd doesn’t need to be villified for taking a couple of perfectly reasonable stances. One being the somewhat negative: ‘Yeah? Your profession is unbalanced? Join the queue.’ Another being the far more reasonable: ‘If no-one’s being discriminated against, why is this actually a problem? Do what you want.’

      Men and women are different. And not just the immediately obvious physical differences. But those physical differences? They affect our brains. It’s a fact. We have different brains, we think differently, we feel differently. We’ve been writing about it and studying it for generations. Professions that are attractive to or benefit from different brain types? Well duh. Vive la difference. Trying to alter profession balances to meet some ideal of equality, because that’s what’s ‘fair’? Not always going to be useful.

      Different ways of thinking CAN lend different perspectives, but in industries driven by efficiency instead of creativity, there are usually clear, well-established perspectives which do not need to change. Gaming? May not be one of them. The idea that a creative industry informs the perceptions of the generations who consume its product? That’s got some weight.

      It’s complicated by the fact that the gaming industry is such a strange hybrid of creative and technical. To quote Harris from the article: “…of the female developers who’ve contacted us, only one has been a programmer – the rest have been artists or designers.”

      I’d say the ‘ohnoes’ aren’t sticking their(/our) heads in the sand as much as only seeing the parts of the problem that are immediately apparent to them and (quite reasonably) deciding it’s not a problem – seen from that angle.

  • I don’t think it’s a huge deal, as long as there’s no discrimination going on. I mean, it would be nice if more women were into the vidja game makery, but (assuming lack of interest is the problem) you can’t force them to be interested.

  • “Perhaps the most troubling issue is this: women simply don’t seem to be applying for jobs in the games industry.”

    Sorry Mark, I have to disagree with you on this point. It’s not troubling that women aren’t applying for the positions. It WOULD be troubling if they were applying and being turned down but you can’t blame the games industry for not employing more women when they just aren’t applying.

    I support equality for all of course, but there are some fields which men obviously want to work in more than women. It works the other way around as well – the percentage of men applying to be primary school teachers, for example, is much lower than the percentage of women.

    If anything, it would be worrying if that 10% number was much higher in proportion to the number of women that were applying to jobs, as it would mean employers are showing a clear bias towards women.

  • I went into a Game Artist course and of the 20+ people that were in it, only 2 were women and only 1 of them a gamer. I’d love to see more women getting interested in that line of work, but as a lot have said, you can’t simply make women go down that path because numbers are low.

  • Statistics are an interesting thing. An incredibly low proportion of females are being employed in the game development industry: Fact. Even the previously recorded numbers (~10.8%) are unusually low for this kind of professional sector.

    On the other hand, Mark, I don’t think much can be said about the decrease from 10.8% (154 of 1431) to 8.7% (51 of 581). If we wanted to retain the 10.8% ratio, there would need to be 63 of 581 females in the industry; there are twelve “extra” males “taking the place of” females in the industry. Considering that the industry has been affected far more by closures than new hires, I think that this is a poor place to focus, and I think the implication of this analysis is unfair.

    It is good, however, to question why the proportion is so low in the first place. Why is 10.8% our reference statistic? By contrast, gender ratios in teaching are seen as a big deal (in SA the male proportion of teachers fell from 37.5% in 1993 to 31.3% in 2009, per ABS).

    As with male teachers, the question is “why”?
    Is the industry gender biased? Is there a social/cultural stigma about the profession? Is there a genuine lack of interest? Possibly, is the nature of the work itself a deterrent? Are there barriers within the qualification process?

    I think it would be difficult to conclude any single defining reason for the issue, but it is worth exploring. In the end – an incredibly low proportion of females are being employed in the game development industry: Fact.

    • As a male primary school teacher, I can tell you that a lot of people honestly look at you like some sort of child molester for wanting to be around small children all day. Unless you are female, because that is apparently totally normal.

      It’s easy to sum it up into a sentence: we have socially accepted gender roles and they are fucked.

  • We need to stop making things about appearances and make them about merits. At the moment, society is a visual medium. We judge based on looks, we feel how we look in the eyes of society. Instead, we should be judging and favouring on merits. Change the advertising structure to merits, change the media to view based on merit and over time nobody will care about looks.
    Once people are less self conscious about looks, the less we can be manipulated by them. The less youre manipulated, the less control it has.
    Only then, will people not have an image of a workplace in their mind, but an idea. It’s this idea that will drive diversity, because the only thing am idea can have is merit.

  • This had been mentioned, but I’ll reiterate. I do IT at uni, and it’s become a running joke about how little females there are in the course. If they’re not even getting an education in it, then I doubt there are many applying for jobs in the field. So the conclusion we can gather is that women probably aren’t all that interested in learning about creating games. And yes, roughly 50% of women are gamers, but games are a hobby. All because I enjoy playing games, doesn’t mean I want to create them.

  • We don’t really need any more games with horses and ponies so it is probably a good thing.

    • Ok, this is a perfect example of sexism. Just becasue this is viewed as a “typical female” by media, it doesn’t necessarily mean it applies to the whole, or even a majority of society.

  • Speaking as a woman in tech, I wouldn’t work for a big gaming firm even if I got paid twice as much. They’re fucking sweatshops, gaming firms. I shit you not, go look at the crunch periods that some companies have.

    A smaller more independent firm, maybe, but nothing attractive is local.

    • Yes, crunch with no compensation. The larger companies all do it – they deny it, but they do.

  • You can’t blame the industry for these statistics, because there’s a serious difference between “playing games” and “being passionate about games”.

    While surveys will show that almost 50% of people playing games are girls, I’m sure you’ll see the statistics for “passionate gamers” to be skewed heavily towards men. You only need to look at any gathering of the most passionate geeks and gamers to see this – Comic Con, PAX, etc. The most passionate gamers are the ones who love games so much that they eventually decide that it’s an industry they want to pursue work in, so when there simply aren’t that many girls dedicated enough to gaming that they are ready to base their entire lives around it, then you’ll get statistics like this.

    I wouldn’t say that the Industry is to blame for these numbers because from all of my experience the gaming industry is not trying to exclude anyone. If you have the talent and the passion then you will be judged by your merits and not your gender. No, the blame should actually be put onto gaming culture in general.

    Whether we like it or not, gaming is a medium that has been actively excluding girls. In the 80’s and 90’s boys started to pick up games more than girls did, so the developers took advantage of this and targeted their games to what they saw as their developing core market. All of a sudden it’s 2001 and gaming’s main audience was the young male aged 15 – 25. These young men are the ones who grew up with games and decided that they wanted nothing more than to make games for a career, but the women who had been ignored never had the chance to develop a love for games like the guys did because games never tried to speak to them (at least not with any respect).

    So, only in the past 5 years or so have we seen a change in gaming culture. Women are starting to force their way into the medium and as a result games and attitudes are changing. People are calling out for more strong and independent female characters in games that young female gamers can look up to. Developers are being called out if their titles are seen to show blatant disrespect to women. Gaming as a culture is opening up to women and more and more the core market is becoming more balanced…but it’s not there yet.

    Yes, the lack of females in the industry is a serious issue, but it’s not one that we can fix directly because it’s not really an issue with the industry. It’s an issue with the culture, and slowly but surely the culture is changing to be more inclusive to the women that it has neglected for so long. Over time as we’ll see these women feel included to the point where eventually enough of them fall in love with gaming like the rest of us have, then you’ll see them decide that making games like the ones they love is all they want to do in life. Then when more women are active in games development, you’ll see a new industry grow and develop games which will be truly equal and representative for both men and women.

    It’s not something that can happen right away, but big changes take time.

    • ‘serious issue’ lol. The pro women thing is getting out of control, next thing you know there will be massive golden vaginas all over the city.

  • It’s not so much to do with gender-role conditioning of women as it is the environment that games are developed in. These are too often “boys-club” environments as any one of a great deal of recent reports have shown. They are not places women feel comfortable in.
    To misquote ‘Field Of Dreams’: “If you build it, they will come”. Start making technology and game development fields an inclusively comfortable environment, and women will start becoming willing to work there.

    • I tend to follow the notion that our goal as a society is equal opportunity, not equal representation. We absolutely have a responsibility to ensure that any workplace treats employees of different genders equally, but the percentage of women in each industry isn’t a useful metric to measure those issues by. Pursuing that metric is unlikely to achieve the desired outcome, and may even exacerbate the problem.

      Not that I’m suggesting you were saying otherwise, of course. I just wanted to say that I agree that there are issues in the industry that need to be resolved, but resolving those issues offers no guarantee that the percentages will balance out. We don’t have a strong enough scientific understanding of the brain and personality to be able to safely make assumptions that if all else were equal both genders would be attracted to the same jobs in the same proportions, so all we can really do is ensure that gender has no bearing on opportunity, and allow people’s natural inclinations to lead them where they want to go.

  • It’s not surprising given the amount of sexism I’ve seen in this industry. Why would a woman want to work in it?

  • I understand that a lot of people here are saying women just aren’t interested in going into the industry but I’d say that’s not quite right. Sure, the first ad-dip I completed in games design I ended up being the only woman left in the course, and it was really hard to find a position in industry the first couple of years. But I’ve just gone back to study for a games design degree and almost half of the course is made up of female artists and designers, who are definetly gamers and we’re super enthusiastic to get into the industry once we’re done!

  • It always boggles my mind to read through threads like this. There’s been a huge outcry for better female representation in the games industry and to start working on equality, but a lot of what I see and hear points to the fact that females just aren’t as interested in making games. I’m hoping it’s not because the constant resistance against a feminine presence has finally taken its toll and females just shy away from it.

    However, with how easy it is to set up an Indie studio and then seek backing from crowd-funding you’d expect there to be a larger number of females using that route to avoid the prejudices in the commercial industry. The barriers against entry into making games are getting lower and lower, so I’m wondering why the numbers are too.

    Also, Kotaku AU does a fantastic job on moderating topics like this.

    • I’m hoping it’s not because the constant resistance against a feminine presence has finally taken its toll and females just shy away from it.

      It certainly has.

      However, with how easy it is to set up an Indie studio and then seek backing from crowd-funding you’d expect there to be a larger number of females using that route to avoid the prejudices in the commercial industry.

      I know a few who are doing this. Expect to see some new studios opening owned and operated by women.

  • Engineering is a classic example of this. Only ~10% of the workforce in Australia is female. I can understand that, traditionally and culturally it has been a more male oriented profession however I think these attitudes are changing, as they probably will with game development. What is interesting is that ~20% of current Engineering grads are female, if that 10% workforce figure doesn’t begin going up, it suggests that something is going wrong in the transition from uni to work.

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