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UK games industry behind in female employment

Creative Skillset survey shows improvement, but games still had the lowest proportion of women of any Creative Sector industry

The UK games industry has a lower proportion of female employees than any other part of the Creative Media Sector, according to a new survey from Creative Skillset.

Broadly speaking, the 2015 Creative Skillset media survey, which is conducted every three years, showed positive growth for the British games industry. According to data collected last year, it employs around 10,300 people, a huge increase from the 5,500 people employed in 2012.

However, while the total workforce has recovered, the games industry is lagging behind other creative fields in proportional representation of women.

In 2015, around 2000 women were employed by the UK games industry, equivalent to 19 per cent of the total workforce. In television, that figure was equivalent to almost 45 per cent, in film it was almost 43 per cent, and in radio it was 46 per cent. Indeed, that is the lowest proportion of any of the seven fields included in the survey's Creative Media sector.

However, the advocacy group Women in Games did note the high level of progress since the survey in 2009, when women represented just 6 per cent of the total workforce.

"Industry growth brings opportunities for everyone, and it is pleasing to see the proportion of women in the games industry continuing to grow to 19 percent," said Women In Games founder David Smith. "The Women in Games not for profit organisation seeks to double the number of women in the games industry by 2025."

In terms of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups, the games industry was more in line with film, television and radio - which is to say that all displayed disappointing levels of representation. In the games industry, just 4 per cent of employees were from BAME groups, compared to 5 per cent in 2012 and 3 per cent in 2009. Only the animation industry showed a lower proportion than games, but television was the highest with just 8.9 per cent. The UK average for BAME employment across all industries is 10 per cent.

The call for participants in the Creative Skillset Employment Census went out in September last year, and it received 657 responses from the Creative Media sector. In 2015, 104 employers from the games industry participated, compared to 34 in 2012.

If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on newhires@gamesindustry.biz

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Latest comments (9)

Craig Burkey Software Engineer 2 years ago
Employment figures are always out of context, 50%/50% employment will and IMO should never happen until the number of qualified applicants is split 50%/50%.
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Robert McLachlan Game Designer 2 years ago
This survey is part of an effort to improve these numbers, and part of that effort is to encourage more women to apply to jobs. Releasing the figures draws attention to the issue and thus encourages more women to apply and more companies to actively recruit women - thus getting more women into the industry.

Or are you proposing that they keep the numbers secret until through some mysterious process of gender osmosis the applicant split becomes 50/50?
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Craig Burkey Software Engineer 2 years ago
I was thinking more that they publish the intake stats instead, showing that they are being as diverse as they can be without positive discrimination. The key for me is to get 50%/50% split on applicable courses in academia, then at least the new blood coming into the industry would be more fairly balanced
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 2 years ago
This not quite going to work like this. Ironically, Iran has better c/s grad. gender ratio. India, too. Russia, too.

"why there are less female scientist - from the factual feminist channel" http://youtu.be/l-6usiN4uoA

The focus should be on helping those who need it, not ignore inconvenient facts as it does not mach reality.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 26th April 2016 8:32pm

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I think comparing the games industry figures to TV, film and radio is a bit misleading. The latter three don't require a specific skill set for the majority of their jobs.
That's really not true at all! There are a huge variety of highly-specialised and technical roles within all of those fields requiring just as much specific training and experience as any games industry job. These fields are generally doing better at informing third-level education of their needs, I think, but the education pipeline is not the only issue I see with the gender balance in our industry.

(I popped up to comment since it seems only fitting - the article photo is from a panel I participated in at last year's excellent WIG conference, where this topic was of course discussed.)
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Shehzaan Abdulla Translator/QA 2 years ago
A lack of gender parity should worry no one. Especially now that the gender ratios can no longer be expressing as x: y ratios. It no longer makes sense to do that since you have to account also for the relative size of everyone that falls outside (or in between) of being male or female as well.

But even when simplifying things to only look at male: female ratios using lack of parity (or near parity) as a yardstick for a troubled workplace doesn't really work anyway. And never has. It's such a useless, impractical and utterly meaningless number (that's loaded with a lot of unspoken assumptions).

Case in point: From my few stints on site I've actually never met anyone that matches me, race wise. Not one, single person. Not even one. And the same is true when I look at the racial make up of the comments section here. Heck, now I think about it even the racial make up of developers at large trade shows hasn't shown up one, single person I can remember that was the same race as me. Not 20% Not 10% (which, if the games industry is neat slice of the wider culture, should be about the right number), not 6%. zero.

This was something I only realised the other day because, to be honest, I've never cared before. And I've never cared because I can't point to any case of being discriminated against based on race. Because ultimately it's that what matters, not whether or not the industry is or isn't filling its quota of people who fill whatever category HR happens to file me under.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 27th April 2016 2:05pm

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Tom Keresztes Programmer 2 years ago
So if this is problem in the gamesindustry, why it isnt in teaching (education) ?
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It certainly is considered an issue in teaching Tom, but this is a games industry news site so we talk about issues facing the games industry here.
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Connor Martin Aspiring game designer/tester 2 years ago
Bring in quality or high potential candidates and make sure anyone with either or both attributes believes they can make it into the industry. I do not nor will I ever care about "representation", as if no slave story was told by a white person, as if no mother character exists in a story written by a man.
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