When I was a high school student at St. Catherine’s school in Richmond, Virginia, I was committed to taking math and science courses. In order to study calculus and physics, I had to walk two blocks down the street to the all-boys school where there were only three or four other girls in my classes. I was certainly an outsider, but my commitment to learning was stronger than my apprehension. For girls today, those negative stereotypes still exist.
Despite the growing focus on STEM education in this country, we still have too few girls pursuing STEM careers. STEM jobs are often perceived as not family-friendly. I believe we are lacking female mentors and role models in STEM, and they are critical to breaking down gender stereotypes that discourage women from pursuing STEM education and STEM jobs. We all still have work to do to create a more diverse and thus innovative workforce.
In my time with Electronic Arts, I’ve been lucky enough to witness how the audience we reach with our games has changed with the advent of new platforms including mobile, social, and online. In fact, 47 percent of all game players are women and we’re starting to see a shift to more women in the gaming industry workforce. Women know how to design and develop games that women like to play. Without different ideas, we cannot innovate and reach our diverse consumers.
We partner with many schools and organizations to attract young students to the industry. We make a point to show them that video games aren’t just for fun—they could be a future career. I feel that corporations must play a role in encouraging our future workforce to pursue interests in STEM. We must create an inclusive and supportive atmosphere for everyone.