Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO of TIGA
(Photographed by the Institute of Directors)
The games industry provides a creative, interesting and rewarding career. More women and girls are playing video games than ever before. Now is the time for games studios to encourage diversity in their workforce.
We want to be able to give everyone an equal opportunity to work in the video games industry. Encouraging more women to enter the games industry should enable the sector to continue to grow and reduce skill shortages.
Only 12% of the UK’s games development workforce is female. To ensure the UK video games industry continues to thrive, we must encourage more women to pursue a career in video games. We can achieve this by promoting relevant subjects at school and in higher education. Industry must also provide more women with the opportunity to work in the sector by actively explaining the career opportunities that exist.
Tackling girls’ misconception of STEM subjects
To encourage more women to pursue a career in video games, we first need to address the gender balance within STEM education and increase the supply of female graduates able to work in the industry.
Research shows girls are substantially less likely than boys to consider taking STEM subjects at A Level.1 A gender imbalance is also found at graduate level. Only 15% of computer science graduates // engineering and technology graduates, and 39% of mathematics graduates in 2018 were women.2
TIGA has welcomed recent government action to encourage more women into STEM careers, most notably the planned launch of a Gender Balance in Computing Pilot Programme, identifying effective interventions that schools can implement to improve girls’ take-up of computer science GCSE and A level.3
Since 2010, the percentage of women on STEM courses has increased by 25%. Encouragingly, 40-50% of students studying games courses at Anglia Ruskin University and Norwich University of the Arts are female. This is a great indication of the upcoming change in those pursuing a career in video games.
It is the industry’s responsibility to communicate careers in video games
Industry must also actively engage with girls and women to explain the opportunities that exist in the sector. Non-coders may not realise that games development requires more than coding, but skills in music, art and design. Equally, girls and women who code, may not appreciate the opportunities that exist to work in the games industry. Industry is trying to tackle this issue by sharing the creative process of its games in talks at schools and universities.
At TIGA, we are encouraging best practice via our TIGA Awards. For example, our TIGA Diversity Award encourages games businesses to adopt examples of excellence and helps raise awareness of diversity as an important issue.
The UK games industry is a success story. We want more women to have an opportunity to enjoy a creative, interesting and rewarding career in our sector. By addressing the STEM imbalance and by engaging directly with girls and women, we can inspire more women to pursue a career in video games.
1 Department for Education, Attitudes to STEM subjects by gender at key stage 4, 11 February 2019
2 HESA, HE qualifications obtained by subject area and sex 2013/14 to 2017/18
3 TIGA, Government action on encouraging more women into STEM careers, 22 February 2019