Original illustration by Molly Doering

This Wednesday, Super League hosted the second event in Nixon Peabody’s Women in Gaming Roundtable series at our headquarters in Santa Monica, CA.

The event drew in professionals from across the gaming and esports space in an effort to generate healthy discussion surrounding the “state of the industry, growing inclusivity, and the changing business and cultural landscape,” particularly as it pertains to the women who belong to it.

Wednesday’s panel included Nicola Piggot, Co-Founder of The Story Mob, Pamela Horton, CEO of Neratrite, Inc., Susie Kim, Director of Youth Esports Education and Training at Cloud9, and Super League’s Chairman & CEO Ann Hand as moderator. Those in attendance represented a wide breadth of organizations both within and without the gaming and esports industries, including Riot Games, Team Liquid, Red Bull, and Paramount Pictures.

The series aims to encourage “frank discussions about the gaming industry,” as well as to provide a networking opportunity for women professionals in the field. By doing so, these events help to build a community of women in gaming and esports professions, which in turn promotes and uplifts women streamers, creators, casters, leaders, as well as everyday gamers.

Discussion focused on the perceived future and potential growth areas of the gaming, esports, and digital streaming industries, and touched on game studios and publishers who are making significant strides towards diversity and inclusion both in their games and as part of their professional staff. The roundtable also surfaced concerns around everyday sexism in the workplace, pointed to a lack of career development opportunities for women aspiring to leadership positions in esports. Our panelists provided fantastic insights around the importance of speaking up, dealing with ambiguity, being more resilient, and not coming into the room in a defensive posture. That said, the room still sat with a question for which no one could offer a real answer—

How can we, as women in gaming, work together to drive change?

According to a 2018 report by the Entertainment Software Association, 45 percent of U.S. gamers are women. However, the number of professional gamers who are women has been listed at as little as 5 percent. Additionally, a 2018 study conducted by PayPal revealed that “female streamers get half the financial support as [male] counterparts.” While 47 percent of women streamers and creators reported not being paid for their content, only 24 percent of men in the same fields said the same.

Several sources cite online harassment and a hyper-masculine video game culture as barriers to women considering a career in esports. Fortunately, the same on-screen spaces that may make women feel unwelcome and uncomfortable in the gaming space are also being used to rally women in esports community to uplift one another.

For example, female-run Twitch channels, YouTube channels, Facebook groups, and Discord servers can create online spaces for women interested in gaming to interact with each other, share experiences, self-promote, and seek out mentors.

In addition to these communities, online and in-person events help to create environments that welcome women, grow awareness around the experiences of women gamers, and provide women the necessary knowledge and resources to achieve their career aspirations. These events range from large-scale conferences to local networking events, such as the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival, Super League’s Galentine’s Games League of Legends tournament, or the Women in Gaming Roundtable series.

We at Super League look forward to future conversations surrounding the women of the gaming world and what we can do as industry leaders to further equity and inclusion in esports. While events like the roundtable series offer a great first step in creating awareness around these issues, we recognize that there’s still a lot of work to do, and we want to do it with our male colleagues with whom we share a great culture and common mission. Thank you to our panelists and guests for attending this week’s Women in Gaming Roundtable—we hope to keep organizing events and finding new ways to provide resources for women in gaming in the future.

If you’d like to join Super League’s women’s Discord server and/or Facebook group, please contact Audrey Miano at audrey.miano@superleague.com.

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