The ever-excellent Mare Sheppard from Metanet and the Difference Engine Initiative gave a talk on the trials, issues, and complexities of integration of women-only events focused on women gamers at GDC yesterday. Gamasutra has a good write-up of her talk.
Another reason for the underrepresentation is pervasive stereotypes, which are automatic, misleading and often ingrained. Stereotyping “underscores the feeling echoed throughout our culture that women are abnormal, unusual and different,” she says. “This feeling that they don’t fit or don’t belong keeps many women from entering game development and similar fields.”
Sheppard says people are less likely to make eye contact with her or to shake her hand than they would be to engage with her male colleagues, especially in groups of people where she’s the only woman. People interrupt her more frequently in conversations and express doubt that she’s a programmer. “This certainly doesn’t happen at all times or with all people, but it happens a lot.”
I really wish I was able to see this talk, the word on the internet is that her talk was crowded and some people couldn’t get in!