I went to Cambridge Uni today, to be on a lunchtime panel at the Computer Lab, from where they run their compsci and programming courses (I think). It's right next to the Microsoft Research Lab, and I forgot to go sniff about. Anyway - subject of the day was why aren't there more women in the games industry?
Cripes we had a good chat. There was me, the fabulous Aleks Krotoski (doing a talk), David Braben (he made Elite! omg!) and Martin Hollis (he made Goldeneye! omg!). We covered a ton of ground in the hour and a bit, unfortunately a bit too much to cover here. Briefly though, one slant on the whole shebang was that there is just no excuse for the lack of women in games. Programming, we accept, has a dearth of gals in the business, and programming courses countrywide usually have maybe 5-10% female students. Not good, not good. Much work to do there. But let's park that one a moment - the really weird one is why there is such a high number of games companies who don't have women on their books at all, in any roles.
(While we're at it, there were lots of girls in the audience at the computer lab. Programmers, comp sci or HCI or.. I dunno. But there were a lot. This is good.)
I have visited a few programming houses that have zero women present. Not in programming, not in project management, HR, senior management, PR, admin, producing or design. Not *one*. In most other cases, large companies have just a tiny handful of gals present. I personally know (and I can't be an exception here) a goodly number of experienced, talented women with years of experience in software design and software development, team management, etc, who would happily fit and thrive in videogame development houses. So how come games - which are software! - attract no women?
Recruitment policy? The industry's 'face'? David made the point that some companies are really, really trying, and just not succeeding as much as they'd like to yet; equally, it's pretty clear that some companies aren't so bothered.
Maxis had a preponderance of ladies when it was making The Sims, and look what happened - big bucks for Maxis. Doesn't take a genius to see that having a female perspective on the books means a healthier company. Aleks had some jawdropping figures from some UK recruitment agencies - 3% of senior management in the UK games industry is female. 2% of the programmers are female. It's just nuts.
Anyway. Enough of this for tonight, have a look at some photos instead:
David & Aleks. Happy happy!
The lab. It's fancier than our offices.
Aleks' car mats. Er, how cool is she?
(Thanks to Jez for inviting me - it was a very good day indeed.)