Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown1
Gender wage gap figures cause fits of outrage
Statistics are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. It’s easy to forget that something as cold and detached as some numbers could be used in a way that was anything less than honest, and that’s exactly why they can be so dangerous. Numbers on their own are pretty harmless, the real problem arises when people use them to make a point, judge people or make claims about an entire industry.
So, it was with no surprise whatsoever that I read this piece from The Border House, which mixes unrestrained outrage and presumption with some numbers and a bunch of pie-charts. The stats are meant to show the income and benefits of both male and female members of the video game industry. Apparently, we’re meant to be disgusted by them.
But why should we be disgusted. Well, looking purely at the stats and ignoring the commentary, we shouldn’t. There’s a disparity between the wages of men and women, but those particular numbers are fairly useless given the lack of context. It tells us that on average, men earn more than women in the video game industry, but that doesn’t equate to the genders being treated differently.
We can see from the pie-charts that, not surprisingly, those who have worked in the industry for longer earn more money. Unfortunately, the pie-charts are gender neutral. There’s no denying that the industry is a male dominated one, but that is now changing. However, this means that women are less likely to be in the bracket 6 years > bracket than men, which would certainly be a factor in regards to the amount they earn.
The Border House article’s commentary on the statistics even acknowledges that there are likely other factors, but it immediately then switches tactics and explains that the industry is failing to recruit and encourage more women. The issue of these statistics not necessarily painting a whole picture is buried under vitriol and disgust at the apparent wage disparity, and then brushed aside.
Eurogamer also reported on the statistics, and it also mentioned the length of time in the industry issue, but once again we see it brushed aside in favour of disbelief and depression. One particular part of the Eurogamer article really got my goat: “Despite making up roughly half of our planet’s population, women only account for 16 per cent of video game artists…” I fail to see what the planets population has to do with this at all.
It’s a logical fallacy to presume that just because around half of the population of Earth is female, then half of video game designers, artists, writers or what have you have to also be female. Indeed, it’s ridiculous to assume that it should lead to any specific percentage of women being involved in the industry.
Working in any industry or sector is not a right, it’s a privilege. Having the opportunity to work in said industry is a right, but actually getting the job is not. There are undoubtedly less opportunities for women in video games than there are men, and I desperately want this to change. The more variety there is, the better of we’ll all be. But the rhetoric used by certain individuals concerns me a great deal.
The reason I’d like to see more female developers and just more women in our little corner of the sector in general is because women are just as capable as men. There’s simply no valid reason for them not to have the same opportunities. Thus, the goal should not be to employ more women or foster any sort of gender specific agendas, instead, the goal should be to employ the best person for the job. If this actually happened, which is still clearly doesn’t, then we’d have true equality.
We are individuals, and it’s about time we stop defining ourselves by arbitrary things like gender, but those who rail against gender inequality are just as guilty of doing that as their opponents are. The change the industry needs is one where the division between genders ceases to exist, not one where anybody is given special treatment because of chromosomes. This goes for men and women. Let’s not try to destroy the boys club by making one for girls too.