The proportion of women working in game development is growing, though they’re more likely to occupy design-related roles than engineering jobs, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In part, the issue lies in the number of women who apply for the more technical positions: They’re far outnumbered by men. “The resumes are almost always predominantly male,” said Andrew Tosh, president of GameSim Technologies in Orlando.
The Orlando area is home to a number of game-development companies, including EA Sports.
While video games are played predominantly by males, the number of women players has been growing in recent years. Indeed, the Entertainment Software Association recently reported that more adult women play video games than boys 18 or younger.
Game developers say one way to attract more women into the industry’s workforce is to offer more titles that present a woman’s viewpoint and use women as strong, central characters. Alice Hayden, president of Orlando-based H2 IT Solutions, which uses gaming technology in its work as a defense contractor, points to Tomb Raider and its central character, Lara Croft, as an example. “You see Lara Croft as strong, agile, confident, fearlessly overcoming physical threats,” she said. “Playing it, you feel empowered, not oppressed. And that’s the idea. It encourages women rather than discouraging them.”
There’s no question women are interested in games as a career. The International Game Developers Association says the number of women in the business has doubled over the last five years, though they still make up just 22 percent of the industry’s workforce. In 2013, women comprised 30 percent of the University of Central Florida’s Interactive Entertainment Academy graduating class. Full Sail University, in nearby Winter Park, says its female enrollment has doubled to more than 20 percent over the last 10 years. Full Sail offers a number of game-related programs.
However, both UCF’s Academy and Full Sail focus on design and similar aspects of game development, not engineering. The proportion of women in those programs is higher than the number of women in computer science programs, which stood at 18 percent nationally in 2010, according to the National Science Foundation. Only 8.5 percent of UCF’s computer science and engineering graduates were women in 2013.
Employers say such numbers make it challenging to attract and hire women into technical roles. “We’d love to have a more diverse work environment on that side, but in terms of recruitment, it can be very difficult,” said Tosh.
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