Female participation in esports is in a “terrible state” but what can we do to improve this? 

Last month, Abu Dhabi native Amna Al Qubaisi took pole position and streaked to victory by over three seconds to win the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 F4 support race. We pick up on the comment made few weeks ago by Nicolas Maurer, Chief Executive of the Team Vitality esports organization when he said that female representation and participation in esports is in a “terrible state” and needs to be rectified, quickly.  

This is just one of the reasons why we created Init Esports. With three female founders, all of whom have had successful careers in different aspects of motorsport over the past two decades, we hope to encourage more females to get involved in esports and sim racing especially.

While at an amateur level, there is a mix of both male and female players; professional esports to-date has been male-dominated.  Somewhere on the journey to becoming professional, female players drop off, but why does this happen?  

No female driver has ever featured on the virtual Formula One series and Maurer has said that audiences need to be educated better, along with confronting gender stereotypes head on.

Stefy Bau (Init Sports Management) is a former three-times World Motocross Champion who understands the challenges women can face in this environment. Claire Ritchie-Tomkins (SQN) has spent her entire professional life working in the technology and motorsport industries, also in the early days with a lack of female role models. Didi Bau is a senior manager for athletes’ management which is a world where women struggle to be on top.

Together, the 3 women aim to help and encourage girls to get involved in esports.  

According to a study published earlier this year by market researcher, Interpret, female viewership of esports has risen. In 2016, 23% of women participated, but in 2018, they recorded just over 30%. It may not be a huge leap, but it is undeniable progress.  

Much like motorsport and the technology sectors, there is a noticeable lack of female role models for girls to look up to. If you can’t see someone similar to yourself doing a role, it can be hard to imagine it would be a possibility for you. In many cases, when a woman does participate even at a lower-level, sexist abuse is thrown in their direction. 

“One of the big challenges, and a very interesting area of development for esports, is the number of women being pro, which is close to zero right now,” Maurer said at the event to showcase Vitality’s partnership with Renault. Dan McLaren (Head of Digital in SQN), attended the announcement and has written a post about the day which you can find here.

Maurer concluded, “There are a lot of things to overcome to make sure women feel welcome in our ecosystem. That’s something we are working on actively. We need to get to the point where we have a lot of women there, 50-50.” 

We couldn’t agree more!

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