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International Women’s Day: We take a look at the women leading the way in the games industry

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Kelly Ross women in games

The 2020 UK Games Industry Census revealed 70 per cent of people who work in the UK games industry are men. The report, which was conducted by the University of Sheffield and industry body UKIE, polled a representative sample of the industry between September and October 2019. 3,200 people took part - 20 per cent of the UK games industry as a whole.

The percentage of women in the industry is "significantly under the national average of those in work", UKIE acknowledged, even when compared to the creative sector as a whole. 28 per cent of survey respondents were women, while two per cent identified as non-binary.

The games industry has always been a male dominated sector, but this is something Creative Personnel Managing Director, Mina Machacek is sure is already changing.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we caught up with Mina to talk about women in gaming and about her role as a Women in Games Ambassador.-

Hi Mina, can you tell us a little about how you got into this sector and how long you’ve been in the industry?

I have been working in the technology recruitment sector since 1998. Due to the dotcom crash, I decided to niche within technology, then I’ve been specialised within the games sector since 2001. I was always fascinated by the way that technology interacts within our personal lives and how much and how quick that it evolves. I grew up with a Commodore 64 (showing my age) playing Pacman and Treasure Hunt cassette games and then always enjoyed being part of the evolution of gameplay through PC/Console/Mobile and now VR. I was always interested in the technological layers inside the game development lifecycle and how complex they were becoming i.e. graphics / engine / AI / tools, now data and machine learning.

During your time in the games, AV and digital world, have you noticed a shift in the number of females applying and being placed in the sector?

There undoubtedly has been a big shift across all sectors. The biggest shift has been in digital, over the years I have seen and spoken to many women that have grown into leadership roles driving digital innovation and diversity across the teams. In games, we have seen more women come through holding positions in the art / design and production areas. Some of our technical roles need more applications from women and games studios need to diversify and cross train from other technical sectors and allow more junior professionals to enter the market. In AV, again I don’t feel we see enough women in the technical AV roles, we do however see women coming through in project management and operational roles.  

Would you say it’s important for a larger proportion of women to join the gaming industry?

It is hugely important for any working environment to have a positive team culture that enables success and growth – this will be led by having balance, inclusiveness, diversity and equality. For games companies to stand out and progress they will need to evolve their working practices and will naturally want to encourage more women to be part of this. Attraction and retention strategies are key factors at play, the games studios that provide a supportive culture whilst encouraging creativity and achieving milestones are the ones that will make positive strides forward.

What do you think the industry can do to increase its male to female ratio?

There are some great initiatives coming through in relation to coding clubs for women, which is creating more confidence in technical development.

However, we have to do more at grass roots level – working with schools / computing clubs and providing more insight to what a career can entail and how inclusive and supportive these sectors can be to learning, training, flexibility and opportunities of growth.

Perhaps, a more open criteria when it comes to some of the vacancies within games companies, reshaping parts of the interview and selection process to look at transferable skills and cross train options would enable more women to apply.  Also looking at possibilities of part time/flexible working practices may also encourage more women to work in the sector.

Can you tell us about your role as a Women in Games Ambassador?

As I work in recruitment my role is to be an advocate for representing and encouraging women to work in games. To be a Women in Games Ambassador you have to be committed in any way you can to develop a diverse and inclusive community for women in games. The Women in Games programme works hard to achieve its mission for a games and esports industry, culture and community free of gender discrimination, where full equity of opportunity, treatment and conditions empowers all girls and women of any background, ethnicity or sexuality to achieve their full potential.  By achieving this, this will empower the games and esports industry and community to be more creative and innovative, productive and profitable. In our own ways we all seek to nurture and support this.

And finally, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me, it means a lot. International Women’s Day represents women having a clear voice and celebration of what women have achieved, what they can do and to recognise that it is still on a continuing journey of progression. It is a fantastic reminder to stand up and be counted and to showcase how women make an amazing difference within the workplace and to encourage and share support for women across the world.

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day is marked annually on 8th March and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.