Although esports – competitive and organized video games – has exploded into a billion dollar industry, female players are hard to come by on esports teams at U.S. colleges and universities. In the following Q&A, Lindsey Darvin, Assistant Professor of Sports Management, highlights the reasons.
1. Why is college esports dominated by men?
Women and girls face many barriers in esports environments – both in terms of participation and employment. These include how they are subjected to gender based harassment from male esports players, toxic masculinity, stereotypes and prejudices, as I wrote with my colleagues in an upcoming article for the Sport Management Review.
These circumstances have resulted in a decline in the number of women and girls in college esports.
Previous research has established that there are disparities in the way female gamers are treated.
Male opponents and spectators more often than women contribute to these hostile esports environments by insulting, insulting and demeaning other players, both men and women. Men said they are much more likely – 20%, in my analysis – to engage in hostile actions.
[Read: How do you build a pet-friendly gadget? We asked experts and animal owners]
To overcome hostility, gamers often do not use their real names or voice chat features to avoid being identified as female. A professional player said in the next Sport Management Review article: “100% toxicity exists. You have players who don’t identify as female because they don’t want to deal with negative cat reactions. You see a cat that’s very negative for women, and that’s not fair. “
These acts reinforce an unwelcoming environment for women and girls. Women and girls generally receive death threats and threats of sexual assault. A professional gamer explained in my next post: “Girls are afraid, women are afraid to even try to compete or improve because… men tell them that they don’t know how to play the game, and they never will be. their skill level. They are so terrified of even going for it.
When women reach competitive levels of esports and win tournaments, they are often marginalized. An esports player development professional told me, “If a woman isn’t good at a game, it’s because she’s a ‘girl’. Not a woman. It doesn’t matter because she’s a “girl”. Like small, sweet, young. These are the predatory and demeaning language and thought processes that women face. “
At the university level of the game, a current professional player explained, “In college, I was the symbolic woman who played. It was very clear that you could only really have one girl on your team, and that was used as a tool. “
2. Why is this important?
More and more, colleges are giving scholarships to players. However, women and girls miss out on these scholarship opportunities and the educational benefits they bring.
Through the National Association of Collegiate Esports, $ 16 million in scholarships are awarded each year. About 115 colleges and universities offer these scholarships.
Beyond participation and monetary losses for women and girls, the detrimental outcome of fewer female role models in eSport generates a somewhat cyclical phenomenon. It’s hard to be what you can’t see. The highest-paid man in professional esports – Jordan “N0tail” Sundstein – has brought in around $ 7 million in career earnings, while the highest-paid woman, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, has brought in just over $ 7 million in career earnings. $ 300,000.
Additional benefits are associated with competitive participation in esports. Studies have linked it to improved self-esteem, technological skills, graduation rates, and visual-spatial reasoning, as well as more meaningful social interaction.
Competitive participation in esports also aligns well with science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM – both in terms of education and career.
3. Can women compete with men?
Women and girls have proven their ability to compete with male competitors and consistently beat them at high level events. For example, in 2019, Li “Liooon” Xiaomeng was the first woman to win the Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Final. Tina “TINARAES” Perez placed first at Twitch Rivals 2019: TwitchCon Fortnite Showdown. Janet “xChocoBars” Rose placed first in the 2019 Twitch Rivals: League of Legends tournament on the EZ Clap team. Kim “Geguri” Se-Yeon was named one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders in 2019 for being one of male dominated sport.
4. Should the colleges do anything?
There is a great deal of interest in esports among women and girls. About 48% of women participate in video games considered to belong to the e-sport category. This percentage of participants climbs to 57% for women aged 18 to 29. Women are engaged in games, watch live broadcasts and compete an average of 15 hours per week. In 2019, 11 million women watched a live stream from Twitch.
Colleges and universities that receive U.S. federal assistance have an obligation to improve opportunities and access to participation based on the policy of Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in any educational program or activity that benefits from federal financial assistance.
AJ Dimick, director of esports operations at the University of Utah, told me that “the training stages of college esports do not sufficiently address representation and diversity and could benefit from. monitoring and review of Title IX.
Initiatives to create inclusive eSports environments for women and girls have already started. Team Liquid, a professional esports organization founded in 2000 with teams from around the world, announced in January the creation of a diversity task force and hired the Women’s National Basketball Association star and player. of esports, Aerial Powers, as the premier Diversity Ambassador. In September 2020, PNC Bank and the Pittsburgh Knights created a Women in Esports Steering Committee to develop solutions for gender disparities in the esports industry.
These initiatives provide evidence of a changing esports landscape and an effort to bring women and girls into this space. As college esport continues to grow, institutions must consider their own role in creating opportunity for all.
This article by Lindsey Darvin, assistant professor of sports management, State University of New York College at Cortland is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.