fbpx

EXPLORE OUR

How gaming holds the key to getting more women into STEM

Woman on sofa with headphones holding game controller

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Could gaming hold the key to getting more women into STEM? To explore this further, we sat down with Barbara Lee, Head of Engineering at Kinetix.

JUST LIKE THE TECH SECTOR AS A WHOLE, THERE IS A SMALL NUMBER OF WOMEN IN GAMING.

Just 21% of women work in the games industry. But female engagement in gaming is a huge opportunity for game developers and marketers, with 48% of gamers thought to now be women.

gaming and STEM

So could gaming hold the key to getting more women into STEM? To explore this further, we sat down with Barbara Lee, Head of Engineering at Kinetix.

I HAVEN’T ALWAYS WORKED IN THE GAMES INDUSTRY; BUT I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A GAMER.

Since the age of three, I’ve had a controller in my hand – for the Amiga 500 if anyone’s wondering – and particularly enjoy indie and platform games. Although my STEM career began in fintech, I’ve been constantly fascinated with how gaming boosts technological innovation and ignites creativity. It’s why I find great joy in my current role at Kinetix. On a daily basis, I lead a team of front end, back end and 3D engineers creating a generative AI platform which is making 3D animation for video games more accessible. I work at the intersection of my two greatest interests: gaming and cutting-edge tech.

Female gamers make up a significant portion of the gaming community: 48% according to a survey conducted by the Entertainment Software Association. Meanwhile, the proportion of game developers who identify as female rose from 24% in 2019 to 30% in 2021. This is certainly encouraging, but more work is needed to not only bring this percentage up to about 50-50, but also to ensure that women are adequately and accurately represented in the most senior and influential roles. By encouraging more women to work within our industry, we not only create games and workplaces that better reflect the female experience, but also increase skills and knowledge within STEM.

GAMING… THE ULTIMATE STEM SANDBOX

In my own career I transitioned into gaming from another STEM field, so why do I think gaming holds the key to the opposite, i.e. getting more women into STEM?

Well, the games industry often pioneers or is the testing ground for new technologies, from AI and web3 to adtech and fintech.

How many technologies do we hear about where the first use case seems to be in gaming? Likewise, as we move towards the next iteration of the internet – web3, the metaverse, 3D internet, whatever you want to call it – 3D virtual worlds will not only be where we play, but also where we socialise, shop, learn and work

As well as being a proving ground for tech, video games offer young women and girls the opportunity to explore key components of STEM such as coding. Using platforms like Roblox and now Fortnite, they can create beautiful 3D worlds with low-code tools – definitely a more accessible and fun entry point than building an app in Java for example! By sparking interest within STEM at an early age, we can encourage more young women to build a career within this field. We should empower girls to pursue their passion for gaming and technology from childhood. My older brothers always invited me to pick up a joystick or controller, which played a major part in motivating me to pursue technical education and careers.

By welcoming more women into the games industry we can create a virtuous cycle in the game creation process. If more women have greater creative input in video games, gaming content becomes more inclusive and empowers the next generation of young women and girls to relate to it. As well as reducing the prevalence of the hypersexualisation of female characters in games, we need to see more genuine female characters become central to gaming storylines. There are positive signs, such as the growing number of popular female video game streamers today, which is giving more girls the confidence to play games. Introducing more women into game design could bring about fresh creativity in the industry; increasing the number of innovative game series led by female directors.!

BLAZING A TRAIL

What steps can we take at company and industry level to encourage more women to join gaming and STEM fields in general? Sites, just like SheCanCode, amplify inspirational female figures within gaming, and mentorship and management from experienced female colleagues can be extremely powerful; demonstrated by research from Girls in Tech which found that 63 percent of women with male supervisors reported burnout, but the same held true for only 44 percent of women with female supervisors. In a nurturing environment, strong female role models can allow us to challenge our approach to problem solving, and develop our skills and understanding across science, technology, engineering, and maths. This is particularly inspiring as the number of female founders grows, providing examples of female entrepreneurs and business owners as well as senior female employees. This better representation of females in leadership will undoubtedly challenge management norms and help in getting more male leaders to adopt more appropriate behaviours.

Like many other tech fields, there’s still a huge amount of work to be done to make sure women are properly empowered and represented in gaming.

Yet gaming’s unique status as an important testing ground for tech and the ultimate sandbox for practising and nurturing STEM skills mean it can play a key role in getting more women into STEM.

I foresee more and more strong female leaders making their way in this industry in the years to come. It will establish new working culture standards leading to a gaming industry that becomes more appealing for the next generation of women.


WANT TO DIVE INTO THE EXCITING WORLD OF THE GAMING INDUSTRY?

Gaming event

Mark your calendars for July 19th, because SheCanCode is thrilled to invite you to an incredible online event that will open doors to endless opportunities! Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast, an aspiring developer, or simply curious about the gaming industry, this event is tailor-made for you.

Join us for a captivating 40-minute session where our esteemed speakers will delve into the fascinating realm of gaming and explore ways to encourage more women to pursue careers in this dynamic field. This is an invaluable opportunity to gain insights, discover hidden gems, and unleash your full potential as a woman in gaming.

REGISTER FOR FREE

CAREER BUILDING RESOURCES
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL
RELATED CONTENT
RELATED CATEGORIES


JOIN OUR COMMUNITY

RELATED ARTICLES

Eilidh McMenemie discusses the gender gap in tech and the potential of AI to bridge it. AI offers personalised learning, mentorship, and hands-on opportunities, empowering...
In an era of rapid technological advancement, the tech industry leads in innovation and growth. Here, Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group, discusses the...
Despite efforts to address gender diversity in tech, systemic biases persist, hindering the industry from tapping into the full potential of women. Jenny Briant, Academy...
Tech has a gender disparity problem! But how did we get here? And what is the solution? Dr Paul Sant, Head of Computer Science at...