Sexism isn't keeping women out of industry, says EA exec

Executive vice president Gabrielle Toledano says it's "easy to blame men," but that's not the real problem.

Electronic Arts executive vice president and chief talent officer Gabrielle Toledano has sounded off on sexism in the gaming industry. In an editorial at Forbes, Toledano said when it comes to sexism, there is a "big disconnect between perception and reality," noting it's not men who keep women out of the business.

"It’s easy to blame men for not creating an attractive work environment," Toledano said. "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."

Toledano said she does not take issues around sexism or harassment lightly. In fact, as the head of human resources at EA, she said she enforces a "very strict code of conduct" and leads regular employee training initiatives to ensure a safe environment for all.

Her biggest issue is that the game industry is perceived as more sexist than other male-dominated workplaces, when in fact this may not be the case. At the same time, she acknowledged EA employs far more men than women, and this is an "issue to fix."

"Rather than blame the majority just because they are the majority, I believe the solution starts with us: women," she said.

Toledano laid out three "dirty little secrets" about women in the game industry, the first of which is that many women play games. "Nearly half of all gamers are female and yet I still continue to hear on a weekly basis that 'the only people playing games are boys in their basements.' It’s just not true. So if you like to play games, wouldn’t it be fun to make them?"

The second "secret" Toledano spoke of is that the industry wants to hire more women. She said a company cannot be successful if a team "looks and acts and thinks the same." She said embracing a more diverse culture is not simply a "feel-good message," but rather it is a requirement to continue making successful games.

The third and final "secret" Toledano said is that there are not enough women to hire, especially in the engineering department, at least not yet. She said to change this, support is needed for educational institutions that encourage women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers.

"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," she said.

Toledano ended her note acknowledging sexism is a reality of the modern day workforce. However, this should not keep women from entering the industry, she said.

"Sexism is an unfortunate reality of our times, but as women we must seek the power and ability in ourselves to change the dynamic. Cast aside the preconceptions, and look for the opportunities and places to make an impact. And I can tell you firsthand that in the video game industry women are not just welcome, we are necessary and we are equal."

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
728 comments
megamatics
megamatics

I agree with her on this... Sexism really isn't the issue when you think about it, it's the media perpetuating that Men only play video games and are basement women hating devils. Just as Amy Hennig Stated, women are afraid and uninterested (as the real cause would seem in comparison with this interview). I believe women to some degree believe that there is a concentrated effort to keep them out and that narrative itself is keeping them out. I mean, if I heard a certain group of people stole everything all the time, I think I would start to become fearful of those people. If you want more women in this industry, then we have to stop looking for reasons to blame men. 


"There are no women on the stage at this conference Grumble Grumble" - When you make a big deal out of that it does not help women. 


"These characters showcase an unreal standard of beauty for women" - Don't you think you're telling women who enjoy their sexuality and good looks that they are somehow lesser ? 


I'm sure there are many of the usual suspects hitting the headlines that just shape the gaming industry disingenuously. If we want to be recognized as an art form, we cannot rely on outsiders to dictate exactly what art is, and we can not let people simply plow through the industry unchallenged when those ideas call out gaming. You may think that you're helping when you point out "Perceived" sexism, but what you're really doing is holding up Negativity over Positivity.

NathanJake143
NathanJake143

I'm tired of every body saying LOL GIRLS PLAY VIDEOGAMES 2!!!!!!1 yeah I know that my aunt played videos game all the time when I was younger, I'm not an idiot so stop suggesting I am just because all your dumb@ss guy friends say only dudes play videogame...

StaticKornSlipX
StaticKornSlipX

Sexism is probably more of a problem in an industry like the Food Service industry e.g. Hooters. 

The_Last_Ride
The_Last_Ride

There may be some, but i don't think that is the real issue. Carolyn Petit said the opposite in her long ranting blog a few weeks ago. I think girls are just less interested in games, Does that mean no girls play games? No, it's the same with men and women dominated jobs.

fillup0
fillup0

I have mixed feelings about this. Sexism without a doubt is to blame for at least some of this and I hope she realises this. I do think that women should disregard the sexism that happens, but if sexism was abolished from the games industry then you would see a lot more women in there without a doubt. A lot of men are to blame for the lack of women in the industry through sexism online and other places. It's just an obvious glaring fact.

megakick
megakick

Maybe because girls don't like video games? How many girls do you see at gamesstop? how many girls do you see at gamestop without their boyfriends?

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

I'm glad sexism isn't having that effect.  I've been so worried.

csward
csward

Great article I wish there were more like it. Women keep themselves out of the industry. Also, when the media talks about the  "wage gap" between men and women, that is also due to women taking lower paying jobs than men, not being paid lower for the same job. Sigh, but the white man still gets blamed by the uneducated.

Cthulad
Cthulad

I work at a business with 2 women. One is an administrative assistant, and the other is the accounting exec. Looking for a few new hires in the business, and there were a few women who applied, they were interviewed, and seen as great candidates for the job, but the 2 women in the office already did not want them hired. This was their business, and they wanted to be the only females in the business. (It is a small 10 person business) I have seen it more often then not the women in the office wanting less women there. It is just sad that we men are getting blamed 90% of the time.

santinegrete
santinegrete

Oh miss I hope you get qualified people, that should be the priority. Girls helped to design some Mass Effect games and Portal after all.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

Why do more men like sports than women? Because men like seeing people getting hit. Women don't as much. There are women who like sports but just not as much as men. Thus as a result some women aren't into math as much. Others are. If less than 50% of women like going into math, why should the industry hire 50%? You hire who is the best fit based on skill level and qualifications. End of story.

Plus if the industry is sexist. Wouldn't they want to hire more women to look at? Sexism could apply that way too.It's equal pay for equal work. But they also forget about equal qualification (education level and experience).

smoke_dog_4ever
smoke_dog_4ever

"Her biggest issue is that the game industry is perceived as more sexist than other male-dominated workplaces, when in fact this may not be the case. At the same time, she acknowledged EA employs far more men than women, and this is an "issue to fix." "

Eh.... the only problem with this statement is for the same reason why I don't believe in affirmative action as a general solution. You shouldn't employ anyone because of their sex, race, religion, etc, just to fill some quota. You should hire the best person for the job regardless of "x-attribute". If you don't, then you end up with a woman with an associate's degree in graphic design getting hired over a man who has a master's degree in 3D design. While it is important to NOT discriminate in the work force, it's also important that you're able to hire the best person for the job based on merits, education, and experience regardless of age, race, sex, etc.

Frimmel
Frimmel

It always seems to me that sexism gets the blame for STEM fields not being that interesting to women. They don't want to do STEM in the first place and use the perceived sexism in STEM careers as an excuse not to do it.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Just put in charge/employ those who are best suited for that position. If you are employing 5 people I don't care if they are 5 men, 5 women or mixed as long you get the 5 best you find.

(opinion based in 5 years in the games industry, 1 as a team leader)

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Nope, it's keeping maturity out of the community. Which is completely different :P

CaesarIIII
CaesarIIII

This sounds to me like the Tennis thing ;

Female players wants to get pay the same price money as males, in grand slams. But they only want to play two sets, instead of the five sets that males play.

This feminist thing is getting out of control.

deadkingdg
deadkingdg

This article is spot on. I work in the game industry and everyone would like to see more females in the industry, but very few of them even apply. In game design, the men/women ratio is about 50/50, and in the artistic department as well, however, in other departments such as engineering and QA, it's mostly men. It doesn't have much to do with video games directly either, as even at college, there was about 1 girl for 30 guys. In my previous job there was not a single woman. Considering that where I work, the ratio is about 10% women, video games seem to attire more women engineers than anything else. 

HR is mostly composed of women, but they are really part of the game development.

frozenux
frozenux

She forgot the 4th secret....

She is a T-1001 masquerading as Gabrielle Toledano.....



stevenjore
stevenjore

Oh brother. Feminism is anachronistic now-a-days. And she is laying some pretty nasty insults on men if you have the brains to discern it.

zico_mahilary
zico_mahilary

if almost 50% gamers are female, how come we dont see them? i know whats the problem, they try to act like they dont like games even if they actually do because of bitchy peer pressure.... and thats sad.

Fernin-Ker
Fernin-Ker

Here's this for a mighty concept, instead of focusing on maintaining some sort of social benchmark, why not hire people based on their TALENT and SKILL be they man or woman, instead of trying to meet some kind of gender quota.

Dragdar
Dragdar

This article !
This kind of 5th column backstabbing of white-males with a social engineering agenda is nothing less than expected from the main jew-media.

 I guess if you're a white male you should just go flog yourself and die alone because you dont deserve anything and you're the EVIL race and you're women should hate you, bitch in your face, disrespect you, divorce you and leech of your finances forever !

Either we toughen up, take charge, muster the authority, or our sons and grandsons, raised by crazy single mothers, will get trampled 10 times more than we do now and have their dignity and hard work taken from them.

http://htmlimg4.scribdassets.com/6hvqqz4vuo21u4vo/images/29-8fbb8dcaf3.jpg

marco1k1
marco1k1

She's actually completely correct.

ForceSkin
ForceSkin

Sometimes I see people with female armour in Halo 4 and wonder if they are women or cross-dressers.

danteswart
danteswart

Yeah I love these sexism rants from gamespot.Always get people to talk... a lot. My opinion is that the sexism card is being overplayed just as much as the racism card. Here in my country we have a insurance company, for women, is their name. You can only join this insurance if you are a woman. Now that is allowed, but I can assure you, should someone start with a company that says you can only join if you are a man it would be an outrage, symbol of sexism blah blah. Even my wife says she is so tired of woman blaming sexism on everything, when here she has a way better chance than me of getting promoted etc etc. Do I complain... no. i don't care because I do what I can do and that is it. Hell of the four directors that is my bosses 3 of them are women. Do I scream sexism on that? No cause they are the best for the job, women or not. And yes, all our friends that are female, whom I asked if they wanted to go into game design etc said hell no, that is for nerds. So guess what, it is women's perception that must change, nothing to do with men. anyways that is just my opinion...

fanaticsm
fanaticsm

she was paid by a male to say the above :P

musalala
musalala

So basically we were right all along there was a discussion( and I use the term lightly) and those of us who were pointing out that its not sexism thats keeping women out of gaming were denounced as sexist pigs from the land of male chauvinism.

moncealyo
moncealyo

Frankly, I have not seen very many hardcore female gamers.  I wish there was more of them.  I also have not seen many women who want to be game programmers.  I would like to also note that she is human resources which has a higher women to men ratio.  So EA continues the tradition of not letting women into the higher executive levels of a company.  Good job EA.  

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

I don't think its sexism thats keeping women out of game development either. Its the same reason their are more male engineers. Men and Women just have different preferences. I don't think quota systems are the way to go either. Hire the best people regardless of gender. The numbers games don't matter.

OneStrong2
OneStrong2

She's got a point. This politically correct  b.S is making me sick.  They got the military, and the requirements had to be lowered for females. Despite the fact it's supposed to be equal.  Women got an amendment, but how many actually voted in more than this last election? Harassment laws basically make it so that women can get away with murder in the workplace.  More women work the system than actually become a part of it.  All they do is complain to get what they want, are never satisfied, and keep whining about something else.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

There is a big difference between playing games and making them. Most women just aren't THAT interested in making them. And there's nothing sexist about that; it's just a fact and that's OK.

All this bitching about not enough women in the game industry yet I have yet to hear ANY women vocalizing that they WANT to be in the game industry.

Geminon
Geminon

a woman actually admitting that women are being idiots about the "sexism in the workplace" debate? shocker! atleast this is a step in the right direction. women need to stop blaming men for their woe's in life. women that go into engineering literally have their pick of any job in the field. employers are falling over themselves to hire women for engineering positions... so much so that if there is a male candidate and a female candidate.... i guarantee the female will get preference.

and people say there is sexism in the workplace.... pffffff. i dont see men complaining that women get preference in secretarial or office manager positions....

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

If any decision is made based on gender, THAT is sexism. Saying you have a problem because you have more men working for you than women (As opposed to, say, a lot of unskilled employees working instead of hiring some good ones out there), THAT is sexism.

While I agree with her point that men aren't to blame, there is nothing that "needs to be done" to "fix" a situation of gender ratios. If women choose not to enter the industry, why are men expected to woo them into it?

Nobody's crying about the gender ratios at steel mills and other high-risk jobs?

PS - Only men can be drafted into the military, why hasn't any of the so-called sexists jumped on THAT one?

Lord_ZhouYu
Lord_ZhouYu

So ultimately it's just another call to go out of our way to get women to go and get science degrees, supporting them on the basis of sex, so that we can hire them instead of men looking for the same jobs, on the basis of sex.

This is why I don't take feminism seriously.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

"...she acknowledged EA employs far more men than women, and this is an "issue to fix." " 

 How is that an issue? If they hired more men because they're men, then yes that would be an issue. The mere fact that most of their employees are male "is an issue?" That makes literally no sense, unless they were hired with the sole aim of being discriminatory.

Murtarg777
Murtarg777

You're all a bunch of idiots blaming women for sexism, or even better justifying it.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

When I visit a EB Games store the only women I see are mothers buying games for their sons and girl friends that are just there because their boy friends are buying. There are a couple of girls working there as well but it's clearly not 50/50, more like 75/25. That might be different at the offices of a gaming developer but are the women making games or are they secretaries? I have nothing against secretaries and I am not implying that their work is substandard but secretaries are not really part of the gaming industry, their part of the administrative side and that is nessasary to all industries. Secretaries work with dentists but they don't do root canals.

boord
boord

There is no problem here. Feminism tells women they can embrace slutty behavior and it's ok because it's on their terms (modeling, movie roles, Halloween, cosplay, etc). But if men make some attractive sprites for their games, removing the attention from the real life women, there is a problem.

It's a free country. There is nothing stopping a bunch of women from banding together and making an all female indie game house; producing games that specifically target these supposed female gamers. They don't do this, however, because they don't care about gaming (in numbers that matter).

Remember that woman who got $158,922.00 to make some web videos about how oppressed women are in games? Why couldn't she do that for free? Why can't she do a piece on positive female presence in games? Better yet, why couldn't she make a game of her own to support her 'cause'? Oh right, that would actually be a logical course of action.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

Based on my observations many women think that if something is not at the very least 50/50 then they're being oppresed. Some careers are more suitable for men and some are better fits for women. Unfortunatly some women have been brainwashed into attacking any man who doesn't agree with their interpitation of the world. Women get away with alot that men wouldn't beable to and this enboldens them in to pushing their propaganda to the edge and may times over the edge. Some men can be just as bad just in different ways but my point is many women quite often hurt their chances, because no one can trust whats be said cause of so many lies in the past. If women want to get into gaming I say great but don't force your way in through despicable means. 

RoOhDiNi
RoOhDiNi

So where are all these great female kickstarters? Where are the women who want to realize their visions? Who's holding them back exactly?

I'd argue that the games industry is so open today that anyone who wants to work in it can do it. It simply depends on how motivated you are.

Feyweather
Feyweather

The main problem I see with sexism in gaming is not necessarily in the number of women working in the industry - though that is a problem, it's something which will probably improve gradually over time, as it seems to be doing in many other sectors, as women realise that these options are open to them and get the qualifications needed to take them. However, within games themselves (as in a lot of comics, films and even books) women are often portrayed in a very demeaning fashion. I could name franchises, but I don't think that would get us very far as it would seem to victimise individual games when the issue is wider than that - across most games just the character models for many female characters are already objectifying, with overlarge boobs, ridiculously arched backs and skimpy clothing. The characters themselves are often either for the male player character to rescue or otherwise portrayed as helpless. If they are not helpless, they are usually scheming and manipulative. Obviously there are exceptions - being able to play as a female Shepard without many changes in dialogue/ability to affect the world is liberating, for instance, and it's the same in many character-customisable RPGs. But even when women are posed as being 'strong', they are often still dressed in skimpy clothing, armour with huge breasts worked in etc etc., which does not add to their supposedly 'strong' and 'practical' characterisation. Males are also over-sexualised by games, don't get me wrong, but in a positive light that highlights their dominant role rather than weakening them.

Like I say, I suspect this situation will improve, as more women are likely to move into the industry in the future, and work similar changes to those happening in literature and film right now. Not all games are guilty of the things I've mentioned - I'm talking in general terms.

Atombomb1981
Atombomb1981

When we are talking about games, we're definitely talking about creativity. Talking from an executive point of view, it doesn't matter what we are talking about, as long as it produces, something called ... oh yes... PROFIT. So racism, sexism, even creativity don't really matter, it's all about the MONEY. It also feels both offensive and weird that an EA representative is giving insides on the gaming industry, when their sole purpose is to keep their money making machine functional.

Renoo27
Renoo27

When you're talking about EA, men, women, they're all corporate assholes at the end of the day. 

Cyber_Skaarj
Cyber_Skaarj

Like all other industries, people are quick to blame sexism for lack of either women in the business or women in positions of power. They always fail to realise the simple fact is that the vast majority of women just simply have no interest in that type of work in the first place.


It's just a simple fact of life that men and women have vastly different interests and aspirations for their futures. It's not something that can be overcome since it is biologically hardwired into our brains. So instead of trying to create interest in the female gender where there is none, they should be focusing on encouraging and giving support to those women who *do* have an interest in these areas of industry or rising through the ranks.

TechSin
TechSin

Here we go again. *sigh*. Another woman saying that if there's not enough women in a certain industry or in a certain job position it is an "issue to fix".

Maybe they need to stop and think: maybe women don't want to work there and maybe women do not want those positions. About 65% of all working people is male, that's just a fact. And it's also fact that women do not want a management position in general. Maybe they do not want to work on games either.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for women power, but there is such a thing as taking advantage of the "look at us we're a victim" attitude.

In my country the same discussion is going on and people think it's weird women don't get the same type of jobs as men. They do tend to forget that women generally choose stress free environments and 80% of them want a part time job.

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

Its the same in every industry including my own, we have virtually no women in the technical field I'm in but the majority of our sales staff are women.  I think that if there are no women in a particular field its most likely that they just don't want to work in that field.