Women in games mentorship, peer networking, and collective organizing for inclusion

The digital games industry has come under intense scrutiny for its largely homogenous and legendarily sexist workforce, tracking and referenced in research for over a decade and with especial attention in the news media since 2014’s GamerGate controversy. In response, a range of organizations since 2001 have engaged in activity to support women in the industry as well as those aiming to enter the workforce. Initiatives include informal education through game jams and workshops, advocacy, exhibitions showcasing women’s work, funding support, networking, and, perhaps most prominently, mentorship programmes.

Beyond games, mentorship is framed as a key tactic in the objective of shifting gendered inequalities in a range of exclusionary fields across STEM, media, and the creative industries. However, very little research has been undertaken in the media, cultural and tech fields assessing how such mentorship is organized and undertaken, what value is derived from these relationships, and what impacts ensue from these forms of collective support, particularly for greater inclusivity in their industries of focus. The proposed project will examine these questions with qualitative action research focused on three major mentorship schemes being led by the European Women in Games Jobs group (EWIGJ), based in the UK.

Through interviews with individuals involved in both sides of the mentorship relationship as well as the coordinators of each programme, this research will grant needed insight into how the mentorship relationship is defined and approached, the concrete outcomes of these relations, and the best practices that can be derived from these activities.

Contact: Alison Harvey ah463@le.ac.uk