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Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman: "A note to men: This International Women's Day it's all about you…"

"Now, before you raise an eyebrow, hear me out."
Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman:
Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman
  • "We believe that by working together, men and women can create a brighter future for the games industry. A future where women have equal opportunities, feel safe and respected, and their voices are heard."
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Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO of Women in Games, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the gaming industry, has released a statement on International Women's Day entitled "A note to men: This International Women's Day it's all about you…"

Since joining as CEO in 2016, Isaaman has transformed Women in Games from a small UK-based group to a globally recognized organisation for good. Her work has earned her numerous accolades, including the Outstanding Contribution award at the MCV Women in Games Awards.

Isaaman's full International Women's Day statement in full

On International Women’s Day, I want to talk about men.

Now, before you raise an eyebrow, hear me out. At Women in Games, we’ve celebrated incredible strides. Our global network of Ambassadors, powered by Keywords Studios, is thriving, standing at some 2,000 individuals in 77 countries around the world. Our well-established virtual events connect thousands for learning, inspiration, and networking. The 2024 theme – ACTION – reflects our unwavering commitment to tangible change.

But, as we keep saying, the dial is not moving… And to truly create a fair and safe space for women in games, we need allies. We need men.

You, the developers, the senior executives, the players – you have the power to be a force for good. You shape the culture, set the standards, and influence the experiences of everyone in the industry. Here are just a few ways you can actively champion and support women:

Be a Bystander Who Steps In: Witness harassment online or in the office? Don’t be a silent observer. Speak up. Disrupt the culture of silence. Challenge sexist remarks, jokes, or stereotypes. Report misconduct to the appropriate authorities. Your intervention, even a simple “hey, that’s not okay,” can make a world of difference.

Champion Women’s Work: All too often, women’s voices go unheard or their contributions go uncredited. Actively amplify their voices. Promote their achievements. Nominate them for awards. When presenting ideas or projects, ensure women’s contributions are acknowledged and highlighted.

Hire and Promote Based on Merit: Talent and experience should be the sole criteria for hiring and promotion, not gender. Diversify your teams – not just for optics, but because diversity fosters richer creative output. Diverse teams bring new perspectives, challenge assumptions, and lead to more innovative games that resonate with a wider audience.

Mentor and Sponsor Women: Take the time to mentor junior female colleagues. Guide them through career challenges, offer advice, and share your experience. Advocate for their advancement and opportunities. Sponsorship is different – it’s actively promoting a woman for a specific position or opportunity, using your influence to champion her candidacy.

Advocate for Flexible Working Options: Rigid work structures can disproportionately impact women juggling childcare and other responsibilities. Support flexible working arrangements, remote work opportunities, and parental leave policies that benefit everyone.

These may seem like small steps, but they have a significant impact. They create a more welcoming and supportive environment for women in games.

Becoming a Women in Games Ambassador: Taking Action Beyond Everyday Steps
For those who want to go further, consider becoming a Women in Games Ambassador. Our dedicated Ambassadors – Individual, Corporate, and Educational – are the backbone of our movement. They are the passionate individuals and organisations spreading the word about our work, actively supporting our goals, and championing the fair treatment of women in the industry.

Individual Ambassadors are the bedrock of our global network. They promote Women in Games at events, share resources on social media, and advocate for change within their own spheres of influence.

Corporate Ambassadors are industry leaders who actively implement policies and practices within their companies to promote diversity and inclusion. They provide opportunities for women within their organisations, support our events, and champion our mission.

Education Ambassadors are schools, universities, and training programmes that integrate diversity and inclusion into their curriculums, and actively nurture the next generation of female game developers and leaders.

The Power of Collaboration: The Manifesto as a Roadmap for Change
Remember our Manifesto – the Fourteen Reasons for supporting Women in Games. It outlines the need for equal pay, representation, safety, and opportunities. Each reason is a call to action for the entire industry, including our male allies.

Here’s a specific example – Reason Eight: Sexism and harassment are a scourge. It’s on everyone, especially leaders, to create a safe environment.

This isn’t just about protecting women. It’s about fostering an industry where everyone thrives. Toxic environments drive away talent, stifle creativity, and ultimately hurt the bottom line. Talented women leave the industry due to harassment, lack of opportunities, and a pervasive culture that doesn’t value their contributions. Studies show that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones [McKinsey & Company: Diversity Wins].

Building a More Inclusive Future Together
Change won’t happen overnight. That’s why we’re hosting special events tailored for men this year. These events will be a platform for open discussion, education, and building a collaborative push for change. Men can learn about the challenges women face, explore solutions, and connect with other allies who want to make a difference.

We believe that by working together, men and women can create a brighter future for the games industry. A future where women have equal opportunities, feel safe and respected, and their voices are heard. A future where games are truly inclusive, diverse, and reflect the amazing creativity of everyone who plays and creates them.

This International Women’s Day, we extend a hand to our male allies. Join us. Be the change. Let’s build a world where everyone – regardless of gender – feels welcome to play and create.

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