“It’s easy to blame men for not creating an attractive work environment – but I think that’s a cop-out. If we want more women to work in games, we have to recognize that the problem isn’t sexism.”
Those are the thoughts of EA’s executive vice president and chief talent officer Gabrielle Toledano, who says that while sexism is a problem in society it is no more particular to video games than it is any other sector.
“The issue I have is that the video game industry is being painted as more sexist than other male-dominated workforces,” she told Forbes. “I know sexism exists, but the issue isn’t just in video games. And it’s not what’s holding us back.”
In fact, she says that the industry is keen to hire more women, but part of the problem is that there simply aren’t many candidates available.
“Our industry needs and wants more women,” Toledano added. “The only way to be successful in a creative industry like gaming is to stay on the cutting edge and innovate. You can’t do that if your team all looks and acts and thinks the same. Embracing a diverse culture and making talent a core focus of our business isn’t just a feel-good message – it’s necessary if we want to keep making great games.
“Women know how to make games that appeal to women and there’s certainly a market for them. I’m proud to say that at EA, we have over twice the industry average of women in our workforce. But it’s still not enough.
“We’d love to hire more women but we can’t find enough of them to hire, especially in engineering. The longevity of our industry and the infusion of new and diverse ideas that appeal to ALL consumers depend on getting more women into engineering, math, design and other STEM-related disciplines.”
But Toledano’s motivation is not simply the promotion of EA’s excellent work in the field of inequality – she also believes that addressing these misconceptions if vital if more females are to seek a career in the games industry.
“I spent over 15 years working in the technology sector before coming into the video games industry, and I can say unequivocally that working in entertainment and games has been the most satisfying,” she argues.
“Gaming is arguably at the most dramatic point of change in its history, meaning that today’s technical challenges are unprecedented, and also some of the most rewarding to solve. No other industry brings together technology, digital media, art, and design like games.
“If women don’t join this industry because they believe sexism will limit them, they’re missing out. The sky is the limit when it comes to career opportunities for women (and men) in games. If we want the tide to turn and the ratio of men to women to really change then we need to start making women realize that fact.
“I can tell you firsthand that in the video game industry women are not just welcome, we are necessary and we are equal.”