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."

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

Discussion

728 comments
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

ZackRoyer
ZackRoyer

@DesertLynx83 The rest of her interview will be available as DLCs, and there is a microtransaction system that let you pay for random phrases.

fillup0
fillup0

I seriously hope that you are saying that tongue in cheek and that the person who liked that comment recognises than too.

fillup0
fillup0

Stuff like this is very common, but I hope that you realise that just because there is no sexism in your business, that it doesn't happen elsewhere.

fillup0
fillup0

It's the fact that gaming is seen as nerdy guys hobby, simple as. Women just aren't perceived as the audience. Sexism is just one of the factors.

csward
csward

@BlackSquare Well. I think it has more to do with men liking competition more and being more confident with themselves. Probably some cultural and societal norms influencing them too.

Myst17
Myst17

@smoke_dog_4ever I agree. Except that when hiring you should also think about the effect the person will have on your overall workforce. Like she said. Having an almost-completely-one-sexed company isn't good. You need the extra imput her female point of view could give. Obviously talent and qualifications are important, but her different point of view (as a woman) should weigh in as well.

Spokker
Spokker

@smoke_dog_4ever Technically, you hire the best person for the job that you can afford, but yes, I agree with your post. 

Frimmel
Frimmel

@stevenjore Seems to me she is trying to not get beaten up to much by feminists for saying there isn't as much sexism to blame as feminists would like you to believe. She's insulting men a bit as the sugar for the bitter pill that women just aren't as interested in making games as men. Basically she said, "We'd hire more women if there were more women to hire."

Feyweather
Feyweather

@zico_mahilary There is that - though most girl gamers I know are perfectly happy to discuss games in real life, but a hesitant about revealing their gender in online games and MMOs for fear of being scorned by other players. Whether that's a real risk or just a perceived one I don't know, but after reading some of the comments on here, I'm nervous about admitting to being a girl gamer online.

Spokker
Spokker

@Fernin-Ker I would be okay with affirmative action if it were disclosed to the beneficiary of it. I am Hispanic and I went to a school that heavily recruits Latinos and often crows about the number of Hispanics who graduate. I'm wondering if I really earned my degree or if I was just pushed through as part of some social justice AA program. I'd like to know and then deal with it appropriately. If there's affirmative action in school but not in the workplace, that's a real problem when the beneficiaries of AA get into the job market and suddenly find they can't get a good job because the standards were lowered for them in college. 

zico_mahilary
zico_mahilary

@Myst17 @HipHopBeats maybe... but having similar minded people in a company is better than having people with very different views... it makes it harder for you to communicate and share your visions, and also raises conflict many times. im a game designer and i face this problem everyday.

musalala
musalala

@csward @BlackSquare To add to this  men and women are genetically engineered to be different  Testosterone cause men to be aggressive competitive and risk taking, while estrogen the main female hormone does the oposite, generally speaking that is 

Spokker
Spokker

@Feyweather @zico_mahilary You may get trash talked like everyone else. If you are in a place with relaxed manners that is filled with men, the insults will fly and be based on differences, innate or not. These spaces for men will always exist but they are being pushed further and further underground. 

Spokker
Spokker

@Warlord_Irochi @Dragdar You should probably listen to what young white men have to say. They didn't create the patriarchy nor did they benefit from it, yet they are being blamed for it. It will instill bitter resentment in them and there will be mental health problems down the line. 

Myst17
Myst17

@woocls @zico_mahilary I somehow can't imagine the team that made the new Duke Nekem game had many women woriking in it...

woocls
woocls

@zico_mahilary  The issue of hive minded companies is that you end up with garbage because noone thinks to question the direction the development is headed. The more perspectives you bring to the table the more balanced and ultimately improved the game will be.

Feyweather
Feyweather

@zico_mahilary @Spokker @Feyweather I don't mind getting insulted casually - hell I do that with my friends all the time. It's more the fear of being spurned from a group/considered less than equal, and insulted because of that. Insults on an equal footing is fine, but it becomes less so if one group is ganged up on the majority. I know of instances of this with racism, and though I have never heard an example of it with sexism, the attitude among many male gamers seems to suggest the possibility.
But I agree with zico_mahilary - we all just need to accept each other and treat each other as we want to be treated (is it me or is this starting to sound like a musical...?)

zico_mahilary
zico_mahilary

@Spokker @Feyweather @zico_mahilary hey. men insult each other all the time and dont really mean any harm and women praise each other all the time sarcastically.... we just need to get used to each other's ways if we plan to hang out together ... and yes, keep the sexists out.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Spokker @Warlord_Irochi @Dragdar This guy sees "young white men" in his equation. I just see humans being that may be worthy or not. That still, does not jutify ussing specific terms terms as "woman" bitch" "Jew" to re-affirm one's opinions.

So no, I'm not going to listen to some "young white man" that does not represent me with such words.

Signed: A young white man working in the games industry.