[game_edu] Implications of students going into a male-dominated industry?
tony at dragonstalon.co.uk
Wed Sep 21 06:08:04 EDT 2011
> This is how the harm of the imbalance happens. A girl visits a
> game dev studio, or looks at a photo or a list of employees,
> sees no females, and concludes "I don't see anyone like me
> there, so I will not do it."
> On the topic of your particular example, I am hoping that most
> interested in a career in games would not be quite so weak-willed
> as that
> This made me wince.
Me too. That whole attitude (which, tellingly, I have heard
expressed as a need to 'man up') is counter-productive. I will tell you
this much; if ten men interviewed for a job where every visible employee
was a woman, even if it was a job they wanted, I bet eight or nine of
them would change their minds about taking the job if it were offered.
Let's imagine that they do see a man, but he is wearing overalls and
changing a light-bulb or walking purposefully out of the room holding a
sink-plunger - many studios do have women in clerical roles after all -
and I think it would be even more likely to put men off. I know I would
think twice about joining the company.
Reverse the genders and the gender-aligned role (i.e. a room full of
men and a female secretary) and suddenly only a weak-willed woman would
be intimidated? Add to this the stubbly chins and frat-boy beards, the
number of Think Geek and Split Reason t-shirts worn by developers (not
all developers are 'geeks' after all) or the pictures of busty,
half-naked women on the walls (yes, this really happens) and the smell
of unwashed bodies...
> Yes, the most interested 1-2% will engage in their chosen endeavor
> even if they have to do it illegally, barefoot in the snow, starving,
> and so on and so forth.
> Upon seeing no women in a company, most girls (as young as 12 or 13)
> and young women conclude they won't be able to procreate if they
> choose to join - for multiple reasons. The main reason being the
> company is likely to be clueless about motherhood.
Ah, procreation... Most men will point at legislation they have
never read at this point and make asses of themselves.
When my daughter was born, I got nothing. I was less than a month
from the statutory paternity-leave deadline, but I had to take the
two-week break as annual leave. That was my employer's right, after all
because I had not been there long enough. After two weeks, which the
current coalition government agree is too short, I was back at work and
back to crunch. I did often get away from work earlier than my
colleagues, but I was still working a lot of unpaid overtime. (which is
part of the industry /for now/, in spite of evidence dating right back
to Henry Ford that it makes bad business sense, and something the QoL
SIG have been fighting for years) I found it hard as a father to
balance home and work life because crunch was unavoidable and I got sick
a lot in the year following my daughter's birth.
I have no reason to believe that a mother would have been afforded
any special dispensation I was not. In fact, their refusal would
probably even have been presented as 'equality' because they were
treating mothers just as they treat fathers. I stuck it out because we
needed the money and there was no alternative. In hindsight, I am not
sure I would have taken that job if I had known how hard it would be, so
I can certainly sympathise with the sentiment that women are facing a
choice between career and procreation.
A female developer I knew got married about the same time and
mentioned kids at work; this was a mistake... In the UK, at that time
and probably right now, the law was specific on not being allowed to
discriminate against, fire, or make redundant a woman for taking
maternity leave. She was told that the company would have to hire
someone to cover her job, which makes sense, and so her job would no
longer be there when they got back.
That last point was a surprise, but she assumed it was born of
ignorance of the law. Apparently not. She (and two other women of
child-bearing age at the same company) were offered 'clarification' on
the policy; when they got back, there would be /a job/, but not
necessarily /their current job/ any more. Apparently HR confirmed this
too. All talk of having children stopped and to my knowledge, all three
of those women remain childless.
Right now, the industry as it stands is no good for parents or either
gender. Men have been raised (there's the 'Western society' card at
play again) knowing that people have low expectations of their skills
for parenthood, knowing that 'providing for the family' is what society
expects of them as fathers. When you are working 12-hour days and the
occasional weekend, you can reconcile (if only with regret) your role as
bread-winner with crunch. As a father, you are suffering for the sake
of your family. (let's ignore the fact that the mother of your child is
left alone 13 hours a day - we'll assume a 30-minute commute and pretend
you don't go to the pub after work - while you do this, sometimes 6 or 7
days a week)
How many women (or men who really give it any thought) will be able
to accept the idea of spending upwards of 78 hours each week away from
their newborn child?
When I was made redundant, I actually got to know my daughter for the
first time in our lives. Oh, I had seen her around at the weekends and
even seen her wake up early enough in the morning to say goodbye before
work, but I had never really got to know her. It didn't take long to
realise that I could not go back to that world. I gave up my plans of
going back to 'big games' and my emails to the agency dried up over the
next six months. After eight months, I founded an indie studio which
keeps me just about solvent, but I no longer made games at the cost of
my relationship with my wife and daughter.
I would not ask any parent to go through my experiences of the games
industry, so /of course/ I see the inherent choice between career and
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