Women and Men
Let’s look first at the percentage of women at different years of experience within the industry. The average of all experience levels is 17%. When breaking those down, 27% have 1-5 years industry experience. The next 21% have less than 1 year experience. 14% have 6-10 years, 5% have 11-15 years and 11% have 16-20 years. No women responding to the survey had over 20 years experience. This will be something we want to track closely over the coming years, as there are two factors we are keenly aware of that will influence this. The first is that recent industry and community efforts have been focused on being more inclusive, which is potentially proven out by a larger percentage of more recent entries to the industry. But the other factor is that often people burn out after 5 years in the industry, with this more often affecting women than men, as this data could also prove out. Seeing how this trends over a few years will show if we have built an industry that not only reaches out to women, but supports them once they join. Because all of this will be necessary to push towards a more representative percentage of gender.
When looking at the percentage of women in the different parts of the game industry, be it AAA, Indie, or Other (Mobile, VR/AR, etc) the percentage was functionally the same. So any impressions people might have there were not proven out.
Next I wanted to look at Career Growth and Job Training, to see how those track.
When asked if their studio provides a clear path towards career growth:
The two points of any significant difference here are Some and Not At All. Men seem to be a bit more lukewarm around clear career growth, where as women are a bit more fully negative on clear career growth. This shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anyone, and honestly, these numbers were more closely aligned than I was expecting.
When asked if their studio provides the necessary training you need to do your job well:
Women tend to be more positive around the training opportunities provided towards them. Which I would have expected to have a more direct correlation towards clarity of career growth. But that is not proven out in the data. More than training is required in providing a clear path towards career growth.
So then looking at the struggles women are facing within their studios was the next step.
There are a few noticeable differences here. Women called out Creative issues as something their studio struggles less than Men did. They also did not call out Pay, Hiring or Capture. In the case of struggles, Capture was often associated with being a method that takes away from Creativity, so those two areas are linked. Women did however call out Outsourcing as a struggle, which Men didn’t. This often meant the struggle was around not doing it well or it being a concern of job loss. Women also called out Tech struggles at a significantly higher percentage than Men.
I am going to be making some inferences here, based on all of the data we have seen. Pay and Hiring are often vocal concerns of more senior or lead members of the team. Likewise, the concern of outsourcing taking a job often aligns with the skill set of less experienced team members, whose primary tasks include those most easily outsourced. So it will be interesting to see if, as the percentage of women increase at higher levels of experience, if those numbers line up. But the disparity in the Creative and Tech percentages are larger and not so easily explained by the data. Let’s pull back to a higher vantage point.
When asked what the industry is most struggling with in regards to animation:
Here we see Tech is again a significant difference, but this time it is the inverse, with Men reporting it a bigger struggle than Women. In every other aspect, there is not a significant difference. So let’s talk Tech and Creative, as far as the impressions by Women and Men.
What we know that from other questions around studio vs industry impressions, people tend to think more positively of their own studio than the industry as a whole in terms of creativity and support of animation. It is easy to infer that this comes from being more engaged on a daily level in terms of development, seeing the effort, attention and care being paid to what is being made.
So in terms of Tech, for Women to respond that their studio struggles more than the industry, following the above line of reasoning, they may not be as involved in the discussions around the tech. Then, when looking to the entire industry, Women are less worried about tech than Men. Because industry wide tech discussions often tend to glamorize and showcase the best of what tech can offer, it is easy to see that as less of a struggle, because it looks like the industry is well on track in terms of technical capabilities. I will admit, that is a lot of inference and conjecture to try and prove the data. But based on women historically being pushed away from STEM, it certainly seems plausible and worth all of us examining within our own organizations.
When we then look at why women cite Creative struggles within their studio less often then men, it could very well be that if women are not being part of the Tech conversations, their focus is more naturally focused on the Creative conversations. In which case, based on studio bias, it could explain why those numbers even out on the industry level. Let’s look at what excites people to see if that can give us any additional insight.
When asked what has them the most excited about the future of game animation, these were our responses:
More than 55% of responses for Women were around excitement about the Creative possibilities of interactive animation! That is the largest difference in any data point we have seen. Clearly, women’s responses were focused on the creativity space of games in a way men’s were not. To say anything more than that would be reductive or subjective in a way that doesn’t help anyone. But clearly things are not the same across the responses from women and men. And while there are clearly large scale production issues we need to address, it is unlikely they will equally lift up and empower men and women equally.
What I will say is that if you are a lead, director, manager or conference/community organizer, it would be valuable to look through the lens of this data to see how it applies to your organization. And more than anything, if we want to create a truly representative industry, it is our responsibility to actively reach out, empower and support your team members. Regularly have 1:1 sessions and listen to what struggles they are having and what areas of interest they would like to learn more about. Because all of this data doesn’t replace face to face conversations in building the trust needed to create a fully inclusive and representative industry.