Peer behind the bright visuals and impressive tech of video games, a pastime designed to entertain and delight its audience and you’ll see an industry crippled with misogyny and sexism. For being the most advanced entertainment art form on the planet, the industry’s opinion on how women should be treated is planted firmly in the Stone Age. One of the main reasons the industry alienates females is due to the sheer lack of women working in it. Instead, it is a male dominated industry making products targeted almost exclusively at men, reinforcing the idea that women shouldn’t play them and women shouldn’t make them.
Fortunately, organisations like Liverpool Girl Geeks are spreading the message that being in possession of lady parts doesn’t mean that you can’t also pursue a career in video games or the wider technology industry. LGG head up technology-focused courses, workshops, and events for females of all ages to educate and inspire. They run academies spanning 8 weeks that teach specific skills, like coding for girls aged 14-17, tech-based bootcamps and a free club for 11-17 year old that offer young ladies the opportunity to try out tech and as well as offering field trips to places like the engineering lads of Liverpool University and local digital companies.
Jo Morfee, director at Liverpool Girl Geeks, said:
“We believe that our teen programmes are an essential part of the longer term strategy to tackle the current gender imbalance and skills gap in the technology sector. The digital and tech sector is continuously evolving and as a result, there are so many fantastic job opportunities out there. These girls are the future of tech and it is so rewarding to be able to work with them closely to inspire and support them into the industry. ”
For women interested, or already involved, in the technology industry, there are also free monthly meetups and low-cost courses.
It’s not only Liverpool Girl Geeks that feel the tech sector would benefit from a woman’s touch, this year PlayStation have shown their support for the endeavour by sponsoring the organisations second Bootcamp. Launched on February 28 and running for six weeks the course teaches skills like website building and coding and gives girls the chance to meet other girls keen to get their geek on.
Speaking about the sponsorship, Michelle Tilley, Senior Release Manager at PlayStation, said:
“There is a gender imbalance within our technology sector and we need to take action now to ensure a more balanced and inclusive industry for the future. The Games Industry is an amazing place to work so we should actively encourage young women to join it by inspiring, championing and empowering them to achieve their dreams. I believe by supporting Liverpool Girl Geeks we are working towards this culture change.”
The endeavour is indeed a commendable one, but the lack of places means that only a small number of applicants actually get to participate in the Bootcamps. Last year, of the 90 applicants the programme only had the means to offer a place to 15 girls, traveling from as far as Llandudno to participate. This kind of programme could see wide benefits from expansion to the rest of the United Kingdom and hopefully, we’ll see more organisations like this one spring up to really make an impact on a number of females joining the tech sector and particularly the games industry, where their treatment has been particularly hostile.
More women working in the games industry would likely entice more women into playing games. It doesn’t mean that every well-known franchise would suddenly turn into a dress-up game, dating sim or restaurant management title, despite popular opinion there are actually a significant number of females who enjoy traditional gaming experiences like witnessing the cranium of a zombie explode with a well-placed headshot or taking on a mighty fire-breathing dragon. What we would likely see is a better representation of women in games with more realistic female characters playing significant roles and a decrease in tropes that alienate female players.
The treatment that women receive through being the minority and the stereotype that tech is a man’s world is enough to put most females off even entertaining the idea of a career in the tech sector. However, the reality is that the more women that do pursue a career in the industry the more the situation will improve and it’s through associations like Liverpool Girl Geeks that equality can become a reality. A larger percentage of women in the games industry would send the message to young girls that it’s perfectly acceptable to be interested in and pursue a career in this traditionally male pursuit. Who knows? Among the Girl Geek recruits could be the next Jade Raymond or Kim Swift.
(featured image courtesy of pixabay.com)