Gender pay gaps: Here's how we fix them

Amiqus' Liz Prince believes this week's revelations should compel the industry to address how it recruits, retains and promotes women

The figures quoted in the gender pay gap reporting from games companies with 250 or more employees weren't a surprise, but it was also good to see the additional reports provided by many of the companies and the measures they're taking to address their own stats.

My view is that we should see the reporting requirements as a really positive step - an opportunity to measure progress year-on-year and to ensure 'what gets measured gets done' to inspire real action and change. The baseline figures give us a platform to focus on actions that the industry can get behind to make a difference.


Liz Prince, Amiqus

It's important to reiterate that gender pay gap is not an equal pay issue. The Equality Act 2010 entitles women to the same pay as men doing equal work in the same employment. This means that employers in the UK are responsible for providing equal pay and ensuring that pay systems are transparent.

All businesses of every size can keep track of any gender pay gaps by comparing the pay of men and women doing the same work, identifying any pay gaps, and eliminating gaps that cannot be explained on grounds other than gender.

In contrast, the drivers of the gender pay gap are typically a lack of female representation at senior levels and in well paid disciplines. This is a time to focus on managing progression, and appreciating that the old challenges associated with having children still persist. This sentiment is echoed by the Fawcett Society telling us that women currently in their twenties are likely to experience the effects of pay inequality once they become parents. A lack of flexible jobs is reported as a key cause of the lower levels of women in senior positions and therefore a key driver of the gender pay gap.

According to research by Working Families, six out of ten women will consider their childcare responsibilities before applying for a promotion or a new job. Truly flexible working arrangements and the improvement of parental benefits can help to attract and retain women and men into parenthood and beyond. Attracting women from outside the industry to games is something we're focussed on right now through the G-Into Gaming initiative. We are raising awareness of the career path in games, especially to those women who don't see themselves as a 'gamer' and maybe have a perception that they wouldn't fit in. We're offering taster days to experienced dev females to see a games studio for themselves.

"The gender pay gap reporting gives us a real opportunity to look at how inclusive our businesses are, looking with fresh eyes at how we're working to attract, retain and promote both genders"

There's lots of great work being done by the reporting companies and across the industry at school and university level which is fantastic. To make a significant and immediate impact on the gender pay gap, however, there's work to be done at leadership and senior level and this is something we're tackling head on. I should make it clear here: G-Into Gaming is not a monetised offering from Amiqus, it's a support structure for the industry. We're looking to attract women in - the rest is down to the studios to impress.

There is also lots to do in the way we advertise roles to attract women, to acknowledge and accept that we're different to men and generally driven by different language. Research by Broadbean suggests that women won't respond to a job opening they don't 100% qualify for, unlike their male counterparts who will apply if they fulfil around 60% of the criteria. A small proportion of women feel that they wouldn't be able to do the job but in the main women don't apply because they don't feel that they will be chosen for the role and would be wasting the time of all parties.

It's also important to recognise that gender bias in job adverts can signal to job seekers that there are gender-related problems in the company (whether or not that's the case in reality). In fields where there is a male bias to the workforce, women are more likely to be interested in a position if the language is gender neutral.

Unconscious bias is a huge topic and one with some amazing research behind it, including studies where the same CV was given to a group of hirers but the names had been changed. It's fair to say that in that particular study those with Anglo-sounding names received the most interest; the names and their associated biases impacted the decisions rather than the qualifications and value the candidate could bring.

It's the same when a candidate reminds you of someone you know, a subtle but real form of unconscious bias. Leaders have the responsibility to see the person as an individual and establish processes to ensure there is input and decision making that makes for truly diverse hiring.

Overall we need to be wary of repeating the same message of 'best person for the job' - when frankly the best person for the job may well not have applied - and if they have, they may not have been able to get through the unconscious bias that met them at interview. Let's accept the issues and take on the challenge.

The gender pay gap reporting gives us a real opportunity to look at how inclusive our businesses are, looking with fresh eyes at how we're working to attract, retain and promote both genders and to start thinking bigger about where we attract our talent and the type of employment models we offer. Let's not be the black cab organisation in an Uber-changing world.

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Latest comments (4)

Eyal Teler Programmer 9 months ago
This kind of article often makes me think how bad social thought is in our modern society.

Many jobs which are female dominated pay less than a hi-tech job (and so are many male job). But instead of realising the importance of (for example) nursing, teaching, and social work, and trying as a society to make them pay better, we try to siphon women to jobs which pay higher but are a lot more meaningless.

And sure, this is a game dev site, so we do think that entertainment is important (even though I think that reasonable people would still recognise that the other jobs I mentioned are more important), but even then, a general 'flexible working arrangements ' bypasses the reality of the industry completely. Far as I could find, crunching is still a thing for most game devs, and apart from the chance of having all you've done junked, there's also a chance of getting fired at the end of the project. (Disclaimer: I don't work in the industry, but I do follow it, and I understand this is still the reality.)

Cushion the reality in whatever words you want, do we really want to draw more people into this reality? For what, to fix a payment gap? If there are sectors, such as women and older men, who aren't so hot about being wage slaves, and want some stability, why are we so thick headed that we think getting them to work under such conditions fixes anything?

As long as there's demand for working long hours without job security, there will be an advantage to young men. We can try to fix that (though it certainly won't be easy). The rest are just symptoms, and I think there's too much focus on them.
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Jessica Hyland Artist, Turbulenz Limited9 months ago
With respect, Mr Teler, if you don't even work in games then I for one would appreciate if you didn't brush off systemic issues that affect those of us who do work here and want to stay working in games.

Yes, our society should better appreciate the importance of the work that women do - but that includes the work of women who work in or aspire to the games industry. The problems we face are worth fixing, and everyone who quits working in games because of poor pay, overwork and abuse is a huge loss to our industry.
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Eyal Teler Programmer 9 months ago
Jessica Hyland, I'm not sure why you felt I was brushing off systemic issues. On the contrary, that's what I felt the article was doing. My feeling is that the systemic issues are deeper than the discussion of gender bias and agism suggests, and painting things in these ways hides the true problems. That is to say, I completely agree that people who quit working because of overwork, abuse, etc., are a loss, but my feeling is that these are systematic issues, and not gender or age related ones. Older guys and women may be more susceptible to them, and that could enhance the appearance of bias (not that I'm saying that there's no bias at all), but I think that treating the symptoms, by trying to be more welcoming, won't solve the underlying issue, and so won't help in the long run.

I might not have worked on a game in many years, but I'm still a developer, and I did quit a job in the more recent past so I could be more with my family because the work hours + commute were too much, even though it was the highest paying job I've ever had (and it was so in part to compensate me for the long commute). Therefore looking at things from the direction of how much money a person makes somewhat irks me. People should get fairly compensated, but, at least from my point of view, payment is secondary to working conditions. That's why I think that though reducing the pay gap is an admirable goal, it's not the most important thing we should be looking at.

I think I can sum it up this way:

Within any industry there will always be a pay gap between those willing to work harder (longer hours, worse conditions, more demanding jobs) and those who aren't. This is natural, and therefore if these are the reasons for the pay gap, solving it directly shouldn't be a goal. Either you make it so that the conditions are acceptable by everyone, you social engineer all people to be willing to work equally hard, or you accept that those who are willing to put in more also get more. Any other solution doesn't make sense, and the social engineering solution is a bad one, since its underlying assumption is that people should tolerate bad working conditions in order to get more money. So either accept the situation or try to improve conditions; the pay gap isn't the problem.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eyal Teler on 10th April 2018 10:58am

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Tudor Nita Lead Programmer, Gameloft Romania9 months ago
Something about this article irks me as well. We have entirely genderless ads for our positions. We maybe get ~3 female applications for every 100. B.t.w, our work life-balance here easily accommodates two working parents.

Not surprisingly, the hiring rate for female applicants is way higher than for males. On what I've seen here, as a female applicant, there's currently a 50% chance you'll get hired. Compare that to something around 5-10% for male applicants. ( you can guess why I'm presenting the numbers this way ).

Since we do quite a few uni. talks, I can say the same about the university scene as well. There's 2 females in attendance for every 50 people.

Here's the kicker, in our case. The qa department is split almost evenly. What does this say about the issue ? Is it the education system's fault ? The parenting we do at home ? Society as a whole ?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 10th April 2018 10:41am

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