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Removing gender as a barrier

Gina Jackson on supporting discussion with practical solutions
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Earlier this month the Next Gen Skills Academy conducted a gender balance survey that revealed 45 per cent of women employed in the UK game industry have experienced barriers to career progression due to their gender, as well as a host of other key findings.

Speaking to Develop, Next Gen Skills Academy acting MD Gina Jackson said gender as a barrier to career progression is a complex issue that won’t be transformed overnight, but is happy to see the issues now being debated openly.

“It is a shame it too often evokes a defensive response, the more evidence-based research we can do and the more debate we can support, the easier the conversations are going to be,” she said.

“We need to support these discussions with the provision of practical solutions including sharing best practices and training, then I believe we will start to see changes. These improvements are likely to be demonstrated in the number of women in the industry. I expect us to see this rise above the rates that we saw in 2002 at 16 per cent, before they dropped to just six per cent in 2009, it has steadily climbed back up to 14 per cent in 2012.”

“We are seeing more women speaking at conferences and appearing in the press but we all need more role models. Having women speakers and writers providing keynotes, talks and appearing on panels is a real inspiration.”

Working for change

The number of women reporting harassment or bullying in the workplace is worryingly high, though 61 per cent of survey participants said they felt they were able to report this behaviour to someone, which Jackson said is a much higher figure than had been anticipated.

“We are looking to other sectors and to government to see what initiatives we can learn from,” said Jackson.

“We have put together an advisory group from the industry and government who have already seen the survey results from individuals and have provided a series of recommendations to guide our next steps.

One way the Next Gen Skills Academy aims to tackle issues covered in the survey is through a series of workshops across the country. Areas to be covered include learning techniques to increase your impact and influence, improving personal branding, gender barriers and how to create a gender balanced working environment. These programmes will take place in London on February 2nd, Bristol on February 3rd and Manchester on February 4th.

Jackson said she hopes the data from the survey, which will be fully released later in the year, will be utilised to assist all companies in recruiting and maintaining a gender balance workforce “for the good of the UK industry, to strengthen itself and make it as resilient as we can”.

“Part of our maturing process as a sector is to share best practice and to support all staff in their career and skills progression,” she said.

“We would love to continue this work and do further research, workshops and roll out a women’s mentoring programme in 2015, but all these activities take funding.”

Fore more information on the upcoming workshops, visit the events page.

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