With International Women’s Day here and Women’s History Month spanning all of March, I wanted to celebrate the amazing people that work at or with CGMagazine, and shed a spotlight on their great work, at least that was the concept. It started as a piece to bring attention to the women who work here, but after talking to each one, it became glaringly apparent that there is still a lot more that needs to be done. While the industry is moving in the right direction, it’s not enough.
From starting out, to getting a shot in the industry, like it or not, media—and gaming media especially—is very much still a male-dominated space. Even in the most diverse newsrooms covering tech, gaming, comics or media, it is almost a given there will be an under-representation of women. We all want to think our offices are inclusive workplaces, but this is not as simple as it seems on the surface.
The industry claims to make room, but few really intend to change the core that goes into any organization. It is so easy to put a call-out to women in the industry to get new voices, but if all you assign is the latest Animal Crossing DLC to play, you are not using that talent in any constructive way.
Let’s not downplay the contribution of women. Many women in gaming can take on most men, so to expect them not to be as good, or not to have the knowledge base is missing the point. As CGMagazine’s Executive Content Editor, Dayna Eileen, explains “As a woman, I’ve been conditioned to feel ‘wrong’ for ages. I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I’ve poured thousands of hours into games like Skyrim, Mass Effect, World of Warcraft, and Dragon Age, but because I’m a woman, I’m a lot quicker to be criticized if I don’t remember one obscure character’s name or if I didn’t master the Souls games. It’s taught me to shut my mouth.”
“As a woman, I’ve been conditioned to feel ‘wrong’ for ages.”
Asking the many women writers we have at CGMagazine, the sentiment seemed consistent that you need to fight for your place. As someone who helps direct articles, I had hoped things would be better. I had hoped we would have equal opportunities for women. Looking at the many writers on Twitter and at events, it felt like the industry was finally moving in the right direction. Yet, after talking, it is far more complex than that.
If I were to give advice to other women looking to pursue this type of journalism, I would say, ‘don’t count yourself out because other people will do that for you’. “Other people will make assumptions about your knowledge or capability, so don’t count yourself out because of self-doubt,” explained comic and film writer Lindsay Traves.
She continued, “Sure, you have to do the work, but don’t let your own voice be the one to take you out of the running. The other thing is to remember that there’s room for everyone, and we’re all in this together. There will be people who will hold your hand to lift you up. You should do the same. Speak up, think intersectionally, be your own advocate, and then advocate for others. There’s a lot of advice to be directed at the men, or the gatekeepers, and that’s where we will hopefully continue to see real change, but as far as you’re concerned, be a champion.”
This sentiment is consistent across the board. Even the most inclusive newsrooms and editorial offices still manage to hold onto their gender bias and views of what women want and need. I can’t count the number of times I have assigned an article thinking it would be good for kids or families and picked one of the women on staff without thinking about it. While there is some direction required in any magazine or site, making these snap judgments only hurts the output, and could hold your outlet back.
“Sure, you have to do the work, but don’t let your own voice be the one to take you out of the running.”
I don’t care who you are, the personal bias will always come into play. It is so easy to have a bias in hiring, or directing attention to areas we find comfortable, and never think the percentage of women in an office is an issue. We all grow up with the concept that video games and horror movies are for boys, and girls just tolerate the medium.
But that is not true, and the simple wealth of talent at CGMagazine and in the media industry as a whole shows that. From movies, to comics, to games, I would bet the women of CGMagazine could school me on countless facts and details, and very possibly have seen and played more than I will ever play. We can’t discount the experiences of women, making assumptions to explain away specific directions.
But even if you get past the industry itself holding new voices back, that does not even take into account the readers. While the vast majority of people out there want to read a diverse set of writers, a very vocal minority want to strike down anyone that says anything dissenting, or against what they want. Everyone has a distinct experience, and while many of us see tech, comics, gaming, etc as inclusive, this is not always the case.
“Journalists strive to present the truth and an authority opinion to their audience, but that audience can be hostile,” explained writer at CGMagazine, Mageline Ricchiuto, “Particularly in the tech and gaming spaces where women are often viewed as less knowledgeable than their male peers. While that is changing, progress can be slow to see and any woman venturing into tech or games journalism needs to be prepared for that pushback both professionally and mentally, because it is no easy thing to shoulder.”
While it is hard, spaces can be made for dedicated people looking to break into writing about media. “The industry has so many opportunities for someone just starting out. My advice would be to pitch, pitch, pitch,” detailed editorial writer Mary Gushie. “Do not be afraid to put your ideas out there, and if they are rejected, do not take it personally, pitch it to another place! Publications are always looking for content. Keep writing to develop your writing skills and explore all the opportunities.”
While women are still held back in the tech and gaming industries, there are also new opportunities and new spaces made each passing year. It is not enough, but things look to be moving in the right direction.
“There are a bevy of women-run websites, magazines, and podcasts to immerse yourself in (shout out to Grim Magazine, Faculty of Horror, Ghouls Magazine, Pop Horror, Morbidly Beautiful, HorrorGeekLife, and Nightmarish Conjurings, just to name a few),” explained contributing writer Kelly McNeely, “We’re seeing a boost of women and LGBTQ+ writers/fans covering a genre that is traditionally considered to be pretty focused on straight cis men, and in turn, horror is really starting to recognize and celebrate that very enthusiastic audience.”
“The truth is, women have a place in the industry, be it women in technology, women in gaming, women in comics…”
This International Women’s Day, even if you just walk away with the courage to reach out and try, it’s important. Dayna Eileen explained, “Find a place or person you feel safe with and just…try. I didn’t tell anyone I wanted to do something like this, I was always afraid of putting myself out there professionally. I was actually talked into trying out my column, Parental No-Scope, and once I was comfortable here at CGM and realized I could have a voice, I started branching into news, reviews and editorials, even for other sites. Now I’m the Executive Content Editor.”
The truth is, women have a place in the industry, be it women in technology, women in gaming, women in comics, women in horror, or women in media overall, room needs to be made. These are voices that will make the industry better, and will only lead to new, exciting ideas being brought forward. Gender equality is not just a buzzword, and so much more can be done. At CGMagazine we are excited about celebrating all the women we have working with us, but we also know more can be done.
These are all big steps, and they help make media journalism better. But with another International Women’s Day here, and March being Women’s History Month, it is time to take stock, and accept we can do better. There should not be hate mobs attacking women in the industry only to praise the same words of a man on staff, and it should not be assumed that women need to stay in their lane if they want to get ahead.
This is a diverse field, one that is full of exciting voices, and it only gets better when more people are given the opportunity to speak. And for the readers out there, take the time to read an article before jumping in guns blazing. You may just find your next favourite writer in the process.