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Women in esports : the fight for gender equality in esports

Updated: Feb 4



The separation of gender in traditional sports is so integrated in our culture that the subject is one we rarely think about. The main reason why there even is a gender separation, is because men have different performance levels due to their higher testosterone levels. However, as esports are played in a different way than traditional sports, they don’t require to be played by players that are the same weight or even gender. For this reason, gender separability in esports tournaments and women’s representation therein, is a hot topic at the moment.


Popularity of esports among women


Although esports is rapidly gaining exposure and becoming one of the industries where youngsters can build their careers in, representation of women within the industry is incomparable to the representation of men. For instance, in 2019 women made up only 30% of the esports audience. However, when it comes to playing video games, it may be surprising that 57% of women between the ages of 18-29 play video games, while the percentage of men playing electronic sports is 77%. From this 77% of men, 33% of males identify as “gamers”, whereas, just 9% of video-game-playing women identify as “gamers”. Another very eloquent information is a fact that esports are taken up by 95% of men and only 5% of women (1).

Here, the question arises, is it gamer culture that keeps women from getting serious about gaming? Or is it something else? Clearly, the number of women interested in video games isn’t that small, so why do only a few identify as serious gamers?

Challenges faced by women in esports


There are a number of reasons why women are underrepresented in esports. One of them is a lack of role models in esports that potential female gamers could look up to. Not only is there mostly male players, but there are also other fields of esports that are male-dominated. For example, management or members of esports associations. This is why women often don’t see a career in esports as an option in itself.


Another problem is fear of sexism, more specifically, women fear that they will not be judged according to their performance, but according to their gender. If a woman does badly in a game, it quickly means she plays badly because she is a woman. However, under this problem lies a bigger one, such as gender-specific socialization or the transmission of stereotypical role patterns. Since forever, video games are seen as an activity with a more male connotation. This leads to the fact that it is often not even assumed at first that girls are interested in computer games or could develop those interests. This however is clearly not the case as shown by the statistics above. The mentioned stereotype also influences the gaming industry since it still does not perceive women as a target group, which can be seen for instance, from the design of the game content. A lot of female characters are designed very provocatively and are showing as much skin as possible, while with male characters this is never the case.


A big challenge for female gamers is also a big gap in earnings between genders. Among 500 highest overall earners in esports championships, only one woman earned a ranking spot. To make matters even worse, she doesn’t show up until rank 301. Additionally, the first ranked male

player “KuroKy” earned 4,1$ million by 2019, while the first ranked woman “Scarlett” earned “only” 296.000$ by 2019. The pay gap between the top male and female esports players is therefore significantly big. A very similar situation however, can also be found in traditional sports. Take football for example where the highest paid female footballer gets 400.000€ annually, while the highest paid mail footballer receives 130 million € per year. This is roughly 326 times more for the male player. Thus, the large pay gap is not a problem only in esports but also in traditional sports.


Are women-only esports tournaments a solution?


All in all, female players in esports are facing quite a few challenges in order to pursue their careers in the industry. One of the measures to make their job easier is an organisation of women-only tournaments. However, the opinions on this measure are very diverse.


Many are advocating that women should be able to game solely against other women since other traditional sports are also dividing the competitions between genders. Another view in favour of advocating women-only tournaments is that it has a positive economic benefit for the industry and that it may help closing the enormous pay divide. For instance, Wimbledon became one of the last major tennis tournaments to make the prize fund the same for both men and women. If esports follows the example, they can offer equal prize opportunities, which will help women earn just as much as male gamers. This will actively encourage women to become more involved in competitive play and offer them the exposure necessary to gain sponsors and get recognized by teams.


Source: Intel Extereme Masters


On the other hand, however, opposers suggest that the need to divide gamers by sex does not apply to gaming as in other sports which separate men and women because of biology. Therefore, gender segregation is not necessary for physical reasons nor is there any difference in gaming behaviour or performance between women and men.


Conclusion


At this point, esports definitely aren’t inclusive and the first step in creating equality for female gamers is recognising the issues. With this an equal battlefield and a thriving industry for both male and female gamers can be established. However, gender diversity should not be made mandatory for diversity’s sake but rather achieved by women reaching the highest of skill and by encouraging them to pursue their esports careers.


#womeninesports #genderequalityinsports


Ženske v ešportu: boj za enakost spolov v ešportu


Ločevanje športnikov in športnic po spolu v tradicionalnem športu je v naši kulturi tako močno zakoreninjeno, da na to le redko pomislimo. Glavni razlog za razlikovanje po spolu se nahaja v različni ravni zmogljivosti, saj je pri moških prisotna višja raven testosterona v telesu. Za razliko od tradicionalnega športa, ešport od tekmovalcev ne zahteva enakih fizičnih sposobnosti ali enakosti spola. Zaradi tega je ločevanje tekmovalcev po spolu in zastopanost žensk na ešportnih turnirjih trenutno vroča tema.


Priljubljenost ešporta med ženskami


Čeprav ešport hitro pridobiva prepoznavnost in postaja ena izmed industrij, kjer lahko mladostniki hitro zgradijo poklicno kariero, zastopanost žensk ostaja občutno nižja kot zastopanost moških.


Ko govorimo o igranju video iger, je morda presenetljivo, da 57% žensk starih med 18-29 igra video igre, medtem ko je delež moških iste starosti 77%. Izmed teh 77% moških se jih 33% smatra za t.i. “gamerje”, medtem ko se za takšne smatra le 9% žensk, ki igrajo video igre. Zelo zgovoren je tudi podatek, da se z ešportom ukvarja 95% moških in le 5% žensk.


Tu se poraja vprašanje, ali igričarska kultura ženskam preprečuje resno udejstvovanje, ali gre za nekaj drugega? Več kot očitno število žensk, ki jih zanimajo video igre ni tako nizko, zakaj se jih torej tako malo identificira kot resne igralke video iger?


Izzivi, s katerimi se srečujejo ženske v ešportu


Obstaja vrsta razlogov za slabo zastopanost žensk v ešportu. Eden izmed njih je pomanjkanje vzornic v ešportu, po katerih bi se igralke video iger lahko zgledovale. Ne samo, da so ešportniki po večini moški, temveč so večinsko prisotni tudi na ostalih področjih, povezanih z ešportom. Takšen primer so na primer uprave in člani ešportnih združenj. Posledično ženske pogosto ne vidijo kariere v ešportu kot relevantno poklicno možnost samo po sebi.


Naslednja težava je strah pred seksizmom. Bolj specifično, med ženskami obstaja strah, da jim bo sojeno glede na njihov spol, ne uspešnost in sposobnost. Če se ženska v video igri odreže slabo, se hitro pojavi predsodek, da je to posledica njenega spola. Pod to težavo se skrivajo še večje težave, kot sta socializacija glede na spol ali prenos stereotipnih vlog spolov. Od samega pojava video iger, imajo slednje moško konotacijo, kar vodi v dejstvo, da se pogosto ne predpostavlja, da tudi ženske lahko zanimajo video igre. Navedeno je podkrepljeno tudi s predhodno omenjeno statistiko. Omenjeni stereotip vpliva tudi na igričarsko industrijo, saj še vedno ne smatra žensk kot ciljno skupino za na primer oblikovanje vsebine video iger. Veliko ženskih likov v video igrah je oblikovanih zelo provokativno z občutnim prikazovanjem gole kože, medtem ko slednje ne velja za moške like.

Velik izziv za ženske igralke video iger je tudi občuten razkorak v zaslužkih med spoloma. Med 500 največjimi skupnimi zaslužkarji na ešportnih prvenstvih je prisotna le ena ženska. Še več, pojavi se šele na 301. mestu. Največji zaslužkar na lestvici za leto 2019 je moški igralec “KuroKy” z $4,1 milijona, medtem ko je najvišje rangirana ženska ešportnica “Scarlett” zaslužila “le” $296.000 v letu 2019. Razlika v plačilu med najboljšimi ešportniki in ešportnicami je torej ogromna. Zelo podobna situacija pa je sicer prisotna tudi v tradicionalnem športu. V nogometu tako najbolje plačana nogometašica zasluži 540.000€ letno, medtem ko najvišje plačani nogometaš letno zasluži €126 milijonov. To je približno 233-krat večji zaslužek moškega športnika. Razlika v plačilu med spoloma je torej težava tudi v tradicionalnem športu, ne le v ešportu.


So rešitev ešportni turnirji samo za ženske?


Glede na povedano, se ženske v ešportu soočajo s precejšnjimi izzivi, če v tej industriji želijo zasledovati poklicno kariero. Eden izmed ukrepov, ki razmere lajša, so ešportni turnirji, namenjeni le ženskam, vendar pa so mnenja o takšnih turnirjih deljena.


Mnogi zagovarjajo stališče, da bi morale ženske igrati video igre le proti drugim ženskam, saj je takšna ureditev prisotna tudi v tradicionalnem športu. Drug pogled v prid ženskim ešportnim turnirjem je, da ima pozitiven ekonomski vpliv na industrijo in da lahko pripomore k zmanjšanju velikanske razlike v plačilu med spoloma. V tradicionalnem športu je na primer Wimbledon postal eden izmed zadnjih velikih teniških turnirjev, ki je poenotil nagradni sklad za oba spola. Če bo ešport sledil takšnemu primeru, se bo prepad v višini nagrajevanja zmanjšal, kar bo pripomoglo k enakopravnejšemu zaslužku igralk video iger. Slednje bo aktivno vzpodbudilo ženske, da se pričnejo bolj vključevati v ešportna tekmovanja in jim ponudilo potrebno izpostavljenost za pridobivanje sponzorjev in povečanje prepoznavnosti s strani ešportnih ekip.


Po drugi strani nasprotniki predlaganih izključno ženskih turnirjev menijo, da delitev po spolu v ešportu ni smiselna, kot je v tradicionalnem športu zaradi bioloških razlik. Ločevanje po spolu naj namreč ne bi bilo potrebno zaradi fizičnih razlogov, niti zaradi razlike v igričarskem vedenju ali zmogljivosti med moškimi in ženskami.


Zaključek


Trenutno ešport zagotovo ni v enaki meri vključujoč za oba spola, zato je prvi korak pri ustvarjanju enakosti med ešportnicami in ešportniki naslavljanje obravnavane problematike. S tem se lahko postopoma vzpostavi enakopravno prizorišče in uspešna ešportna industrija tako za moške, kot tudi za ženske igralke video iger. Ne glede na to, pa naj raznolikost spolov ne postane obvezna le zaradi gole raznolikosti, temveč naj bo dosežena z velikimi uspehi ešportnic in s spodbujanjem zasledovanja ešportne kariere obeh spolov.


© 2021 by Spike Esport Agency. 

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