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Gender pay gap in UK games still wide at 17.1% for 2021

Disparity between men and women's pay still much higher than national average

The deadline for some UK-based companies to release their gender pay gap reports arrived this week, with games firms still displaying a concerning wage disparity between men and women.

Companies employing more than 250 people are legally required to provide such data, with around 23 game firms represented as part of the figures available this year, which gives a snapshot of the industry from April 2021.

The median gender wage disparity in games was 17.1% for 2021. As a comparison, the gap among full-time employees across all professions in the UK was 7.9%, up from 7% in 2020 -- it did increase to 15.4% when including part-time employees though.

It's worth noting that due to the gender pay gap report process focusing solely on the disparity between men and women, these figures do not include non-binary people employed in the UK games industry.

GamesIndustry.biz looked into over 20 companies, although there were notable firms missing -- including Keywords and Rebellion, among others.

Of those who reported, Sumo Digital had the largest median wage gap at 36.1% -- this is up from 23.4% in 2020. Women represented only 8.1% of the highest paid jobs quarter at the company -- however, this is an improvement from 5.8% in 2020. Women represented 36% of the of the lowest paid jobs at Sumo, up from 23.4%.

Sumo Digital's managing director Gary Dunn justified this discrepancy by saying that it's a "reflection of the efforts that have been made at recruiting women into the business at grassroots level." He acknowledged that "there is still much work to do."

Sumo was followed by Improbable, where women's median hourly pay was 28.5% lower than men's. Women occupied 8% of the highest paid jobs at the company, and 61% of the lowest paid jobs. This does not compare well to its 2020 report, where women's median hourly pay was 23.1% lower than men's.

The third-largest disparity was reported by Playground Games; women's median hourly pay was 27.7% lower than men's for the period surveyed. In the highest paying roles, women represented 6.6% of staff while in the lowest tier, women made up 29.3% of employees.

This is the first year that Playground Games has been required to report its gender pay gap information, with HR director Geraldine Cross saying: "We recognise that the issue of gender equality should not be a moment in time; it needs ongoing work by our studio, across our industry and in society as a whole."

All the companies we looked at had a gender wage disparity

Rockstar North, which historically has fared very badly in terms of gender pay gap, has been improving. In 2018, the company had the largest median wage gap in games at 34.4%; it improved to 29.3% in 2019, 22.2% in 2020, and now 13.8% in 2021.

However, women were still poorly represented in leadership roles, representing only 10.2% of the highest paying roles at the company. VP Jennifer Kolbe indicated that there was a "14% increase in female headcount" year-on-year at the company overall.

All the companies we looked at had a gender wage disparity, but some fared better than others.

GAME's median hourly pay for women was only 3.2% lower than men's, while Games Workshop reported a 4.6% gap only.

At King, women were on average paid 6.5% less than men, an improvement over 15.4% in 2020. The percentage of women across every pay quartile was almost evenly split at the mobile studio, with 44% of the highest pay tier being occupied by women, as well as 46% of the lower quarter.

GAME, Games Workshop, King and Microsoft were the only companies in games which did better than the national average (though it's worth noting that the data for Microsoft includes all of the company, and not only the games segment).

Looking at women in leadership roles, figures still looked poor across the board. Beyond King's good performance, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe reported 20% of the highest paid jobs at the firm were held by women, Microsoft reported 25.5%, and women represented 31% of Games Workshop's top paid positions.

Women were particularly under-represented in the best-paid positions at Cloud Imperium (3.6%), Playground Games (6.6%), Natural Motion (5%) and TT Games (4.2%).

Additional reporting by James Batchelor and Danielle Partis.

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