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Annual developer survey supports need for gender balance

Annual developer survey supports need for gender balance

Thu 04 Apr 2013 8:20am GMT / 4:20am EDT / 1:20am PDT
PublishingDevelopmentJobs

Females as low as 4 per cent of headcount in some disciplines, salaries lower in all but one area

Game Developer Magazine's annual survey has highlighted the ongoing gulf between genders in both headcount and wages.

The results of last year's survey, which were scanned and published by The Border House, indicate that "Programmers and Engineers" and "Audio Developers" are the most male-dominated sectors of the industry, with just 4 per cent female respondents. "QA Testers" were close behind, with only 7 per cent female respondents.

"Producers" showed the highest proportion of female respondents (23 per cent), followed by "Business and Legal" with 18 per cent, "Artists and Animators" with 16 per cent, and "Game Designers" with 11 per cent. The results indicate the pressing need to make the games industry an attractive career choice for female candidates, particularly in more technical areas.

In terms of salary, the results are more troubling - superficially, at least. Audio Developers see the biggest imbalance by far, with males (avg. salary: $83k) earning 65 per cent more than women (avg. salary: $50k). Males working in Business and Legal earn an average annual salary of $108k per year, which is 31 per cent higher than the average female salary of $82k.

Male Artists and Animators earn 29 per cent (avg. salary: $77k) more than females, male QA Testers are paid an extra 24.9 per cent (avg. salary: $49k), and male Game Designers receive an additional 23.6 per cent (avg. salary: $76k).

The smallest discrepancy between salary levels is among Producers - where females are paid an average of $78k a year, or 8.3 per cent less than males. And among Programmers and Engineers females are paid an average of $96k, or 4.5 per cent more than males.

However, while the salary results seem to point to broad inequality within the industry, the survey is not as damning as it first appears. Game Developer Magazine does not break down the results within each field by seniority, and with such a high proportion of male employees in every area of the industry - a minimum of 77 per cent regardless of discipline - the findings are likely skewed by a low proportion of females in highly paid roles.

16 Comments

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
I think people claiming that the only way to change these ratios is to shift societal expectations of female-appropriate jobs over a period of god knows how long(which is of course a great idea, but very slow and difficult) should take a look at Etsy's excellent example of how to improve staffing ratios in the much shorter term: it's not just a question of 'hiring more women' but of finding and training more women.By actively courting and seeking out female talent, they managed to attract 500% more women than they had before: http://www.fastcolabs.com/3005681/how-hack-broken-gender-dynamics-workplace That's going from 4 women to 20... but for a staff of fewer than 100 people that's a huge shift in the gender ratio.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 4th April 2013 5:32pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media

7 6 0.9
@Tom

I know it is hard to admit, understand or even believe, but yes, if you have two production artist, with the same amount experience, education, responsibility and talent, it is very very possible, that the female production artist has a lower salary. This is a generalization. I am sure, there are companies, where women get the exact same salary in the same role, but in most cases not.

We had discussed this a million times, the why and the why not. Even I am a bit tired of it. The only way to change anything is first to admit the existence of the problem, and I believe that we are still only half way there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Barbara Bernad on 4th April 2013 6:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#2

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
@Jessica
The thing is though why would a developer go out of its way to hire/train women? Etsy's did it because 80% of its customers were female so it made practical sense.

I believe a developer should hire the person best for the job.

@Barbara
People should get paid for what their employer deems them to be worth. If a man and a woman have the same job in the same company and are both good at their jobs but the guy gets paid 10% more then the guy is worth more to that company for some reason, no one should force companies to pay two people the same salary just because they hold the same position, it should be about company worth.

For instance if a company really needs a certain female artist for their game because shes a master of the style they want then she should get paid more than the other artists at her level.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 4th April 2013 7:25pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

888 1,324 1.5
Exactly, Paul. "Find me, coax me, hire me, train me?" Bugger that. Get some skills and come find me, then I might offer you a job. Same as with the men.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games

64 30 0.5
@Barbara
"I am sure, there are companies, where women get the exact same salary in the same role, but in most cases not."

Do you have evidence for this? I don't know of any stats that support or refute this, but from my own experience women aren't paid less simply because they are women. There are things to take into account such as experience, tenure, education, productivity, and asking for more money.

I only know of one woman who was convinced she had been underpaid compared to male co-workers due to sexism, but there was no proof that it was due to sexism vs. some other factor. This happens to people all the time regardless of gender. I have had jobs where I found out later that I was being paid significantly less than others in the same role (and in once case contributing far more to the company than the person getting paid 67% more than me), and other times where I asked for a larger salary and ended up being paid significantly more than people in the same role.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
The thing is though why would a developer go out of its way to hire/train women? Etsy's did it because 80% of its customers were female so it made practical sense.
Over 50% of gamers are women these days, according to the statistics. At what point are we allowed to claim that the general gaming audience isn't almost entirely composed of teenage boys?

Also, if you'd read the article, you might have noticed this study - http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/women-affected-by-male-to-female-ratio-in-math-science-and-engineering-settings.html - which suggests that not only do women perform better when the gender ratio is more even, but that both men and women prefer a balanced working environment. Other studies have shown that gender-balanced teams operate more efficiently and more cohesively than teams with skewed gender ratios. So, finding and hiring talented women is literally a good thing for your entire team. sitting back and waiting for them to come find you is laziness. What's the point of having recruiters and talent hunters(as I imagine mine is not the only studio to have such people) if they sit in the office and wait for talent to hunt them?
I believe a developer should hire the person best for the job.
So do I. So do most people, in fact! But I also believe that women are often discriminated against as being 'not the best' due to factors that are entirely dependent on our gender, which is unfair. That's not a problem which is unique to the gaming industry, and I don't think it's even a major factor in our industry, but you'll never hire the 'best person' if that person has never even considered working in your industry because they don't feel welcome here.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
Your example of Etsy is a confusing one, we have no idea which roles are now filled by women there
Says it right there in the article which you apparently didn't read. They were hiring software engineers, aka programmers. Not a 'low-skill entry job'.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Over 50% of gamers are women these days, according to the statistics
Where did you get that statistic from? Iv heard 47% from the Esa "Fact sheet" which isn't all that credible as they don't even define what a "game player" is.
which suggests that not only do women perform better when the gender ratio is more even, but that both men and women prefer a balanced working environment
Well no it doesn't, it says that men and women find watching a video of a conference better if its gender balanced.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

449 423 0.9
People don't get paid what they're worth, they get paid what they think they're worth and therefore negotiate.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Therefore getting paid what they're worth?

Posted:A year ago

#10

Steven Yau Senior Game Developer, King.com

17 0 0.0
@Paul: No, they are getting paid at what they negotiate to, not what they are actually worth. Someone may have the same skills and experience as another person that is on 40k. However, if they only negotiate to 30k, then that's what they are getting paid rather then what they are 'worth'.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Ola Holmdahl Producer, Tarsier Studios

4 6 1.5
It's interesting to see that all the articles that touch on female participation in the game development and / or game playing space get a lot of comments.

There exists to this day a powerful male privilege. That's an easily demonstrable fact, as any introductory course in sociology or anthropology will show you. For example; until pretty recently, medication was as a matter of standard tested only on males (the societal norm), which led to women receiving sub-optimal dosages and taking medication where side effects in the female body had not been properly studied.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2228396/The-everyday-medicines-make-women-ill-tested-MEN.html

The sheer fact that so many people - primarily men - get upset when the discrepancy in treatment is demonstrated is a good indicator of privilege. Effective privilege must be kept invisible to those who enjoy it, or they might not feel entitled to it.

Another case in point: when females successfully break into a male dominated line of work and become majority practitioners, status and salary tend to rapidly drop. Alternatively, females are able to enter professions only after they have dropped in status and salary. Examples of such professions include: book editing, pharmacy, public relations, bank management, systems analysis, insurance sales, real estate sales, insurance adjusting and examining, bartending, baking, and typesetting and composition.

http://brookekroeger.com/the-road-less-rewarded-as-professions-become-female-dominated-status-and-pay-seem-to-slip-now-researchers-are-asking-why-and-turning-up-some-surprising-conclusions/
(Note the variety of references in this article)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_workforce

My point is that this is hardly games industry specific. It is a much larger, and highly political issue that is also present within the games industry. I see no particular reason why we as game developers should ignore the issue or be exempt from it.

Let me close with an anecdote. My previous company hired about 33% females in all disciplines of game development. The policy was to hire for skill, not gender. Many of my manager colleagues were skeptical of this high proportion of women, and were afraid it would lower the standard of excellence. About a year later, I led an exercise where we calculated hypothetically who we would keep if we had to reduce staff by two thirds. It turned out that after the managers had made their picks, based on perceived performance, dependability, skill and attitude, the list of staff to keep contained in excess of 50% women. Only at that point - and when specifically asked - did my partners admit that we had been right to make those female hires.

Side note: The less-skilled male employees where much more aggressive in salary negotiations. I found that entertaining.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Barbara Bernad Trailer Animation Producer, Maverick Media

7 6 0.9
Yes, I have examples of female developers are getting paid less. Can I prove it that it only happened because they were female, probably not, because it will be my word against another person, probably a male and probably higher position than the mentioned female. Has it happened to me also? Yes. Can I prove it? Probably, although it would make me drag names and people into the discussion whom I either don't want to hurt or don't want to involve.
But as I mentioned before, as long as men get hurt and get defensive any time somebody calls for injustice, there is nothing to talk about, because we can only solve problems if we admit their existence and want to solve the problem.
This means that as long as nobody feels that it is unfair to pay somebody (be that men or women) less than somebody else for the same work, we cannot get anywhere.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games

64 30 0.5
@Barbara
I don't doubt that you have examples of women getting paid less, but what I'd like to find is some statistics rather than anecdotal evidence. I don't think any exist though, which is unfortunate. The studies I have read, which are not game industry specific, show the real wage gap to be between 2-11%, depending on which study you read. If I recall correctly, the discrepancy between the studies is largely due to salary negotiation; women are far less likely to negotiate a higher salary or higher raise. Some would say this is not due to sexism because women who do negotiate are just as effective as men, others would say that it is due to sexism because even though the woman might get the money she asks for, she is much more likely to be viewed negatively for negotiating (regardless of the gender of the person hiring). I hope we can all agree that any wage gap is unacceptable, but when you get down to such a small gap I think it's an indication that sexism, at least regarding wages, is not nearly as widespread as some people seem to think it is.

I don't want to sound "hurt and defensive", but I don't think it's helpful for women to use sexism as the default reason for getting paid less. It's lazy, it prevents women from finding the actual reason for getting paid less (which may or may not be sexism), and it makes game development look like a less attractive place for women to work, leading to fewer women considering it as a career path.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

327 1,321 4.0
and it makes game development look like a less attractive place for women to work
So, don't talk about possible sexism in salaries because women who know what they're getting into might be put off working somewhere they might be undervalued? Pshh. I don't think anyone uses sexism as a 'default' reason, but there are plenty of women in this industry and elsewhere who can attest to having been paid less than male peers for no otherwise appreciable reason. And it's not for lack of negotiating, believe me.

Unfortunately, hard statistics don't exist yet, so all we have are(piles and piles of) anecdotes. Nobody's done a comprehensive survey of game dev salaries; even the one in this article has so small a sample size and so few female respondents that no real conclusions can be drawn.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Diego Santos Lećo Creative Director, GameBlox Interactive

25 26 1.0
Look at the problem from another angle (gender disparities): http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2013/03/study-gender-disparities-science-%E2%80%93-some . There is a study that points to the fact that woman prefer non-technical jobs NOT because they are incapable, but because they are so good at other non-technical skills, and they end up finding "more attractive" carreers (I'm not saying that, the study does).

It is tangible (in my experience) that there is a general lack of interest in the games industry by women. I have never received a woman resume in my company (not for development or art). But I do work with two female art freelancers that do not consider themselves specifically "game artists".

It is not the games industry role to make programming, for example, more attractive to woman! We cannot tackle a "problem" that is not specific to our industry. If you take a quick look at any programming classes, you clearly see a "trend" there for male students.

As a society, though, we may need to communicate better how interesting those technical jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are for anyone.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Diego Santos Lećo on 9th April 2013 12:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

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