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The 2013 Game Developer Gender Wage Gap

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I’m reading through the latest digital edition of Game Developer Magazine which contains their annual survey.  The salary numbers overall weren’t concerning to me, until I scrolled down and saw the differences between the male and female survey respondents.  The next time someone tells me that men and women get paid equally for their talents in the game industry, I wanted something to link to them.  This is just plain disgusting.
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This is NOT how you attract more women into the game industry.

Much as I'm fully and unequivocally in support of a level playing field when it comes to job and wage opportunities, there's not enough raw data here to provide much insight. Even if my own personal inclination is to side with much of is saying - sloppy statistics are sloppy statistics - and a poor basis for reaching sweeping conclusions. And although the author is "disgusted" by the numbers she's seeing, those figures (in and of themselves as reported) don't really support the conclusion she seems to draw from them.

Here's my problem with the reported information in the article. I live in a town with a relatively small population that has a very high per capita income. This is largely due to the presence of a tiny group of outrageously wealthy families who live here. If you pull these few dozen households out of the mix, the town's per capita income drops down about 35% from the official median. Does that mean the town is no longer well-to-do? Not really. But by knowing that little detail, it becomes glaringly obvious it's nowhere near as "wealthy" a town as many would imagine it to be. I think there's enough of a possibility something like that may be happening with the figures reported in the article that it's worth asking for more detail before reaching a conclusion.

It would be interesting to see a more granular breakout by gender by years of industry experience since a demonstrated track record generally has a huge impact on your compensation level if you're in a tech field. As would total years employed in almost any business. So a breakout of the compensation details in each group by gender by years employed would also be interesting to see. That level of detail would provide data worth looking at closely in order to form some arguably better and more valid conclusions.

Does anybody know if that information breakout is available?

Does anybody know if that information breakout is available?
-40hz (April 04, 2013, 12:33 AM)
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I no longer have a subscription to Game Developer Magazine, so I can't answer that.

^FWIW it probably wouldn't matter. Without knowing the sample size and demographics of the respondents (something which it would appear has been unaccountably left out of the survey summary) it's impossible to know if the sample size was large enough to be considered valid or to establish if there is any significant correlations.

That's something I find really odd, because most surveys conducted by "business" magazine have a note somewhere that says something like "This survey was conducted between <date> and <date>. xxx copies of the questionnaire were sent to employees of XXX businesses, broken down as follows: <yadda-yadda>. The results of this survey were tabulated based on information provided by XXX of respondents who completed the questionnaire."

Then there's always the question of how well (or not) the survey itself was designed since it's hard to come up with questions that don't encourage certain biases in their response. And most surveys also neglect to include related questions in order to check the consistency of the survey taker's responses. There's a lot of bad survey design out there, and magazine surveys are notorious for their inaccuracy because of it.

Then there's the problem of the respondent's motivation. When answering a survey like this, there is a tendency for the results to be skewed towards the negative since those who think they have it good usually don't respond for fear of revealing the cards they hold; whereas those who feel they deserve better are more likely to respond in order to "prove" their case.

If you could get direct salary numbers and personnel demographics from the employers (fat chance!) that would go a long way towards establishing if there is in actuality a systemic gender gap in salaries for 'creatives' in the game industry. But no company would willingly share that information for obvious reasons. Even the US Census gets a run for its money when trying to gather data on businesses, despite the fact companies are required by law to cooperate with them.

It's a conundrum! Not to say there isn't a gender-based salary gap. (And my gut tells me there is.) But the information, as reported in things like GDM's survey, don't provide enough of a basis to substantiate it.

We really need to get beyond anecdotal 'evidence' and half-assed surveys - and genuinely get to the bottom of this whole salary issue one way or the other. And let the chips fall where they will.

Because it's the right thing to do.


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