Gamasutra: Women Game Developers Earn 14% Less Than Male Colleagues

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Gamasutra: Women Game Developers Earn 14% Less Than Male Colleagues

Gamasutra Game Developer Salary Survey 310x

Men in game development earn an average salary of $85,074, while women pull in $72,882.

Gamasutra has released its annual Game Developer Salary Survey, a project that collects earnings data from roughly 4,000 game developers, indie developers, and industry contractors.

There's a fantastic amount of data in the report, including the average salaries of men and women in the game development industry. The collective average salary sits at $83,060, which is down 1.51 percent from the 2013 average of $84,337.

When the average salary is broken down by gender, men's salaries move up to $85,074, while women's salaries drop to $72,882. The salary difference is a 14 percent gap, with some positions suffering more than others. Female audio workers earn 68 cents to every dollar earned by a male counterpart, while the gap is considerably tighter in the design discipline (six cents). Only one category saw women earning more than men: QA, where the former have a four percent advantage over the latter.

Women are also considerably under-represented in the industry, with five of the seven job categories having a female population of 5-13 percent. Business/Management, and Producers were the outliers at 21 and 22 percent, respectively.

The survey does not disclose the diversity of those polled, outside of which country/region participants come from, nor does it expand on how experience is tied into the quoted, gender-specific salaries.

While the salary gender gap in game development is something that needs to disappear (and fast), the gap is considerably smaller than the U.S. average of 23 percent (according to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau survey).

The survey cites Pew Research when looking for answers to the pay inequality question. "One of the prevailing theories...is that women are more likely to experience career interruption than men, as a higher percentage of women take time off to care for family. Such career interruptions could have an impact on longer-term earnings."

Other information from the survey:

  • The ten highest-paying states in game development: California, Washington, North Carolina, New York, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia.
  • Business/Management pulls in $101,572 on average, while QA testers earn $54,833.
  • Solo developers who identified as "indie" earned $11,812, down 49 percent year-over-year from $23,130. Team members of an indie developer fared much better with an average salary of $50,833.
  • 40 percent of all surveyed developers said they are satisfied with their current career path.
  • You can read through the entire report here.

    Permalink

    While the salary gender gap in game development is something that needs to disappear (and fast), the gap is considerably smaller than the U.S. average of 23 percent.

    Agreed, but at least this is a tiny step in the right direction. I still don't understand how companies manage to somehow get away with this, other than the fact they are somehow allowed to put clauses against discussing pay into their work contracts...

    The survey cites Pew Research when looking for answers to the pay inequality question. "One of the prevailing theories...is that women are more likely to experience career interruption than men, as a higher percentage of women take time off to care for family. Such career interruptions could have an impact on longer-term earnings."

    This wouldn't be an issue if there was more pressure to give men time off to care for families. I'm actually quite fond of the German system where both parents of a newborn have a pool of time off that they can divide as needed. If only Germany did not still have biased hiring practices due to women being child-bearers and primary caretakers.

    Ooookay, I'm just going to ride right past the gender stuff because I don't want to get quoted to death in the potential shit-storm that is to follow and say that 40% satisfaction seems rather low.

    I mean, that's significantly less than half. Or is that normal for most industries?

    Right above each "Male/Female" part there is a big circle that shows that there is a huge parallel between years in the industry and pay, maybe its more because of that and how a gaming used to be a "bad" thing that even boys got mocked over, let alone girls. Dont forget that there are usually a lot of lower paid staff and then the few big ones, usually the ones that have been around the longest.

    Maybe most of the older women in audio never headed their career to the gaming industry, therefore the ones that are there are relatively new. They even say that they didnt have enough people in that area to properly have an average because of how its managed.

    I dont know, I just seriously doubt people just go: "Oh, you are a woman? Well, then let me take out some of that money, we dont want you spending it on shoes and kitchen supplies after all" and the whole "50/50" thing doesnt make sense to me either because the need to make 50/50 means that someone will take a job of a better applicant entirely because of their gender and the need to balance it out meaning that the priority isnt skill but what is between the legs, and isnt exactly that what gender discrimination is about?

    It would be nice to have the numbers that are corrected for hours worked and level of position.

    Edit, I read the last part and it's basicly that, hours worked that are rewarded the most, what a strange concept...

    lets try not to jump into conclusiones here, there could be other reasons for the salary gap besides the "ggrrrrr sexism!" explanation

    I want to know where the hell QA is getting paid 50K a year. I've been working QA for various companies for three and half years, both third and first-party, and I've NEVER heard of video game Testers getting more than 25-30K a year (also known as minimum, to just above minimum wage here in Canada). Are they only polling management or something? PORN quality assurance pays 50k a year, not video games. Something is seriously wrong with who they pulling their info from or I am clearly getting screwed.
    The large bulk of tester work for third-party companies, and they get paid minimum wage and stick around for no more than a year or two, not this 6+ years of experience crap. That massively skews the curve towards the VERY small percentage of people who stick with the job for that long, and even then, no one I know whose been doing this job for that long is getting paid that much. I would kill for a 50k a year QA job.

    Yay, it's time to offend a bunch of people about the wage gap. =)

    That 23% gap is literally using (median female total pay)/(median male total pay). That is how that number is determined, and nothing else is considered.

    For example, assuming we have an identical hourly rate (I expect we have similar rates, not sure if identical), a female coworker of mine makes 72 cents on my dollar. Why? Because I work 50 hour weeks and she works 40 hour weeks. Adjusting for overtime, this means she is paid 40x hourly rate while I am paid 55x hourly rate, and 40/55 ~= 0.72. On the rare occasion that I get emergency call out pay (this has happened twice in a decade), she only makes 56 cents on my dollar for that week.

    There are a ton of factors that influence total pay other than sex discrimination, and unless you give women higher rates of pay than men (that is, actively discriminate against men), start demanding that women follow what one gender studies graduate on this site dubbed a "very male life pattern", or start encouraging men into life choices that lead to lower overall income for them, there's very little you can do. Pretending that women are paid meaningfully less for equal work, however, is not helpful.

    There was actually a report done for the US Department of Labor analyzing the hows and whys of the wage gap: http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20Final%20Report.pdf

    From the results and conclusions section (boldface mine):

    The long and short of it is that the gender wage gap, after accounting for all factors that could be well isolated from each other, is between 4.8 and 7.1 percent. However there are several factors known to influence it that couldn't be properly isolated from everything else and so weren't included in that factor, because the data to do it properly simply isn't available. Estimates of those were worked out, but since they ended up covering more than the entire remaining wage gap, it is assumed that there is some multiple counting going on (because it beggars belief that the gender wage gap might actually favor women when comparing apples to apples), so they were excluded.

    Schadrach:
    Snip, because who wants to be quoted in full one post following the original post in question.

    Appreciate you doing the brunt of the work for me. I was basically going to say something similar. Another point to take into account is Men are (pre-dominantly, not innately.) more likely to work longer hours due to our genetic programming. We evolved over several hundred thousand generations to bring care and prosperity to our kin. More hours=More Pay=Better security for the ones we care about. Women on the other hand, are more likely to invest in long term things(which never get looked at during wage disparity gaps.) such as 401k programs and the like. It is only natural, from my vantage point, for men to desire longer work hours over women. That being said, I am not disregarding the possibility that some women simply do earn less than men on the basis of their sex, in the case of VGD however, I would argue the disparity has more to do with the stigma that has long plagued us rather than simply blatant sexism.

    just like everything else. It's getting better, but the fact that it's still a thing in the first place is pretty stupid. With more and more women getting into the industry, I think it's better to just cut out the middle man and get rid of the boy's club mentality.

    Schadrach:
    Yay, it's time to offend a bunch of people about the wage gap. =)

    That 23% gap is literally using (median female total pay)/(median male total pay). That is how that number is determined, and nothing else is considered.

    For example, assuming we have an identical hourly rate (I expect we have similar rates, not sure if identical), a female coworker of mine makes 72 cents on my dollar. Why? Because I work 50 hour weeks and she works 40 hour weeks. Adjusting for overtime, this means she is paid 40x hourly rate while I am paid 55x hourly rate, and 40/55 ~= 0.72. On the rare occasion that I get emergency call out pay (this has happened twice in a decade), she only makes 56 cents on my dollar for that week.

    There are a ton of factors that influence total pay other than sex discrimination, and unless you give women higher rates of pay than men (that is, actively discriminate against men), start demanding that women follow what one gender studies graduate on this site dubbed a "very male life pattern", or start encouraging men into life choices that lead to lower overall income for them, there's very little you can do. Pretending that women are paid meaningfully less for equal work, however, is not helpful.

    There was actually a report done for the US Department of Labor analyzing the hows and whys of the wage gap: http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20Final%20Report.pdf

    From the results and conclusions section (boldface mine):

    The long and short of it is that the gender wage gap, after accounting for all factors that could be well isolated from each other, is between 4.8 and 7.1 percent. However there are several factors known to influence it that couldn't be properly isolated from everything else and so weren't included in that factor, because the data to do it properly simply isn't available. Estimates of those were worked out, but since they ended up covering more than the entire remaining wage gap, it is assumed that there is some multiple counting going on (because it beggars belief that the gender wage gap might actually favor women when comparing apples to apples), so they were excluded.

    No you are pretty much dead on, there are a LOT of wider factors that contribute to the simplistic statistal arguemtn that continues to be 'the wage gap'. But i think the lack of prevalence of females at all in some disciplines is troubling in of it's self. There is still a lack of senior female staff in many areas for instance. Personally i think this is because upper management tends to have 20 years+ experience and therefore things continue to play catch-up, that's part of it i guess. Don't panic, a lot of people realize this and we do have very strong legislation enforcing equal pay. Society does not institutionally discriminate and intentionally pay women less for the same work, that is illegal. "But... but the patriarchy!" No, this is one thing we actually have come a long way to fixing.

    What people fail to also realize is that many women simply aren't entering many areas of work by choice. I work in Engineering, when i did my degree within a full time group and two part time groups there was not one women. Now that's not because the course, the college or the people were hostile to women it's because there is this idea that "Women don't become engineers". Like it or not you can't FORCE women to want to work in a sector. I think the point should be "There isn't this massive wage gap, but women need to be encouraged into more 'male' fields and Men need ti be encouraged into more 'female' fields

    Until there is a greater shift of the self-perception of women's career paths and men's career paths then this is unlikely to rectify.

    This is a trend for all industries really...and there is a reason for this, well historically. See WOmen are less permanent. EG. When a woman becomes a mother there tends to be a reshift in priorities and obligations so they become less reliable. The inverse applies to Men. hen a man becomes a father he actually starts putting in more work time. (because there are new expenses to pay).

    That's still the case nowadays those less than it was before. That's not to say women are bad workers it's just from a human resource perspective Women are a little more variant in their careers where as guys a bit more consistent.. Plus most pay scales are bmade with the assumption that a guy is supporting a wife and child...

    Of course the curious quirk in some industries is that the lower pay scale works to an advantage for women. If you have two prospective employees of the same skill level and you can get away with paying one 15% less it'd be crazy of you not to hire that one. So if it continues it may actually fx the imbalance in gender because if there's one thing that every companyt loves.. it be cheap labour.

    NuclearKangaroo:
    lets try not to jump into conclusiones here, there could be other reasons for the salary gap besides the "ggrrrrr sexism!" explanation

    I know. Its easy news bait though isn't it?

    Wonder if this still ties into the discussion of tech and software development work statistics (similar to Google's diversity statistics) and the incentives to improve comp sci education. How many other companies would be eager to release those graphs.

    Or we could also get some more modders in this piece. For what it costs to mess around with Source, or gamemaker....maaaan. Some people could be building portfolios for the industry, and if what they add to the mix is good enough for the time, they could be more in control of the salary negotiation, like Amy Hennig or deny it and go into big business, like Mojang did with Valve. Heck, Tim Willits got into Id Software because they liked his DOOM .wads

    Which reminds me about that engineer lady working for Valve that got fired a yr ago. Jeri something....dunno if she was working on Oculus or other hardware support. I wonder what 'that' was all about.

    Schadrach:

    Excellent post though I'd be shocked if it really is that close. There are a lot of fields where women did not traditionally work in which they now do. This would create a difference of experience that actually should result in higher pay for men (a man with 30 years in an industry with a track record of success SHOULD be paid more than a woman with ten years in the industry and a track record of similar success). Seeing as women are also more likely to take off from work for children and therefore reduce the average years of experience compared to men I would almost never expect to see the numbers equivalent.

    Either way, I find it remarkable that people do spout the numbers you debunk and automatically assume that it's sexism causing a problem rather than there being actual factors that aren't necessarily bad. A good study would compare people in similar industries with similar pedigrees.

    Women are also considerably under-represented in the industry, with five of the seven job categories having a female population of 5-13 percent. Business/Management, and Producers were the outliers at 21 and 22 percent, respectively.

    I'd imagine this is a huge factor as well. In addition to what other people have said, within these employment figures there's going to be a diverse range of salaries, and with the employment of women in the video game still growing they're far more likely to end up on the less experienced end still climbing the wage ladder.

    I mean really it's just common sense. Companies will look to cut costs in anyway they can, it's pretty much hardwired into American business. If you have two roughly equal candidates for a developer job and one they will have to pay one candidate $55k and the other $60k, which is what these studies more or less imply is what happens to women, then the company is going to take the cheaper option every time.

    Right...

    - It doesn't disclose the diversity of those polled
    - It doesn't factor in job experience

    Right, because a fresh-from-college female dev clearly has to be paid as much as a 20yrs-experience senior lead programmer

    And it couldn't possibly be that that there are simply a ton of older and more experienced, and thus slightly better paid, male game devs out there?

    That this survey is even taken serious makes my brain hurt

    gargantual:

    Which reminds me about that engineer lady working for Valve that got fired a yr ago. Jeri something....dunno if she was working on Oculus or other hardware support. I wonder what 'that' was all about.

    Jeri Ellsworth

    This is her PoV:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195786/ExValve_hardware_expert_shares_uncommon_look_inside_the_company.php

    Honestly it sounds like trust issues made it hard for the "upper" management to hire the required staff to get things done in her "department" which slowed down things which in the end made her department obsolete and was thus discontinued.

    It's getting there. Another 10-20 years or so and maybe we're looking at equal pay.

    I'm much more concerned with the general work conditions in the game industry than I am with the gender equality.

    JamesBr:
    I want to know where the hell QA is getting paid 50K a year. I've been working QA for various companies for three and half years, both third and first-party, and I've NEVER heard of video game Testers getting more than 25-30K a year (also known as minimum, to just above minimum wage here in Canada). Are they only polling management or something? PORN quality assurance pays 50k a year, not video games. Something is seriously wrong with who they pulling their info from or I am clearly getting screwed.
    The large bulk of tester work for third-party companies, and they get paid minimum wage and stick around for no more than a year or two, not this 6+ years of experience crap. That massively skews the curve towards the VERY small percentage of people who stick with the job for that long, and even then, no one I know whose been doing this job for that long is getting paid that much. I would kill for a 50k a year QA job.

    I was pretty surprised at this too initially. I'd assume it has a lot to do with California, which has a really high cost of living, and other west coast states.

    maybe they should join create union and pursue wage equality, base industry rates, collective bargaining etc, etc.

    or is that too communist-y ?...

    it's a new industry (relatively speaking) and i dunno how mature its structures are..whereas i do know various unions exist in other similar entertainment arenas both on the creative and technical sides.

    Boris Goodenough:

    gargantual:

    Which reminds me about that engineer lady working for Valve that got fired a yr ago. Jeri something....dunno if she was working on Oculus or other hardware support. I wonder what 'that' was all about.

    Jeri Ellsworth

    This is her PoV:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195786/ExValve_hardware_expert_shares_uncommon_look_inside_the_company.php

    Honestly it sounds like trust issues made it hard for the "upper" management to hire the required staff to get things done in her "department" which slowed down things which in the end made her department obsolete and was thus discontinued.

    Thats the thing with personalized structures. At any point it could be like a band breaking up. I've seen consultants in frustrated with organizational project leaders in other businesses about not receiving proper resources to do their job, and it can easily appear as passive aggressive dismissal, when the communication lines aren't as open as they could be.

    John Carmack was trying to keep Id small for years before they came under Bethesda's wing, and from Romero to Adrian wokring relationships just crumbled even at the local most level. Little wonder.

    At least they're not Crytek....now from my consumer eyes THAT is a reaallly sad sight.

    I hope she's doin well for herself though.

    Considering the overwhelming number of skeptical posts, I don't think this is the reaction the Escapist was hoping to get. Oh well, a few more years of brainwashing PC articles should turn things around, I suppose.

    Now this is entirely anecdotal and completely out there for this "oh god the gender wage gap is real" crowd.

    But I have yet to meet a woman who could actively demonstrate to me the gender wage gap in pay per hour through pay check stubs. And to assist them I bring my own pay check stubs to help give them a point of reference. I wouldn't want to be fair after all right?

    Most people with any credible intellect don't believe in the gender wage gap, as no sane management level would hire anyone but womej in the field in question and simply pay them lesser if the quality of work is truly the same?

    Why? There are laws about paying women less on the grounds of just being a woman, and fines/jail time don't normally appeal to people in management over something that stupid.

    So where does the answer in lie?

    Hours worked. Years of experience. Overtime. Amount of time off.

    You'll notice not one of these studies ever, and I mean EVER tells us the pay per hour followed by number of years in the field.

    Here's a study for you people to take on to help give us a better sample of the truth. I'll give you the test format so you can even continue to take it on averages as well.

    Average hours among women and men worked per year.

    Average number of years in the field among women and men.

    Average hourly wage along with years in the field.

    I bet that would be far more eye opening then your current level of what is pretended to be "research"

    Ah, so the wage gap for women in games is on par with the rest of the world.

    Interesting I guess. Truth is, they don't reveal a lot of their source information. Most women are newer to the industry and comprise a small portion of the industry itself, could easily account for the wage disparity. With a largely dominant male population in there for longer (making more for a greater time in the industry), it would easily look this way when it does not reflect reality.

    If you take 10 men, start them at a salary of $70k, and keep them on for two years with a contractual obligation of getting a salary increase to $75k after the first year. Then after the first year, you hire 10 women, starting at an annual salary of $70k, hire them for two years with a contractual obligation of a salary of $75k after the first year. Now, we can compare numbers and the women are making an average of $5k per year less.

    Typically, the longer one is in any given industry, the more they make. I think this disparity would disappear on it's own given enough time. Are we supposed to now raise our pitchforks and torches at the evil industry now? Everyone knows that women have started to become a larger part of the industry only recently. Given time I believe that wages will equalize.

    I'm not gonna sit here and be outraged at what is presented here. I will not however stand by and let people of any given gender/race/religion be paid less for those reasons. I just don't necessarily see this as evidence of that. Now, if we get to a point in time that it's nearly 50/50 men/women, and they have put in the same amount of time (on average) as their male counterparts, then a discussion needs to happen.

    That said: this should be watched and tracked, otherwise we will never know when/if it becomes an issue of sexual discrimination.

    It could also have something to do with the fact that more and more women are coming into the industry lately, so the average age and work experience of women in the industry is lower than males, therefore lower income. At least I would hope this and the other possibility have much more to do with it than sexism.

    Fucking ninja'd big time.

    Women do not earn less than men. I am so tired of hearing this. Just watch this video.

    bdcjacko:
    Ah, so the wage gap for women in games is on par with the rest of the world.

    What does this even mean?

    What about the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963? It's federal law to prevent wage discrimination. If these were isolated incidents of jerk-wads committing felonies, this would make sense and would indeed be an outrage, but...everyone, everywhere, all the time? That's not an outrage or debacle - that's a fundamental breakdown of justice.

    They are "creating" a gap by the way they are comparing numbers total, they're lumping entry-level animators with seinor-level staff like project leaders who of course make more money, studio director would definately out-earn everyone else and there's usually only one.

    And there's also the implication that existance of a majority automatically means it's oppressing the minority.

    When you don't pass wage equality laws wages are unequal. Well, no shit!

    Haru17:
    When you don't pass wage equality laws wages are unequal. Well, no shit!

    What laws would you implement? Everyone should be paid the same regardless of experience and time in the industry? Because this study doesnt take that into account at all

    Boris Goodenough:
    It would be nice to have the numbers that are corrected for hours worked and level of position.

    Edit, I read the last part and it's basicly that, hours worked that are rewarded the most, what a strange concept...

    Same reason the wage-gap doesn't work.

    vid87:
    What about the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963? It's federal law to prevent wage discrimination. If these were isolated incidents of jerk-wads committing felonies, this would make sense and would indeed be an outrage, but...everyone, everywhere, all the time? That's not an outrage or debacle - that's a fundamental breakdown of justice.

    The stats defy reality because they don't factor in peoples actual jobs. The 40 hour work week project director male is lumped with the part-time office clerk woman. Who do you think is paid more?

    Sleekit:
    maybe they should join create union and pursue wage equality, base industry rates, collective bargaining etc, etc.

    or is that too communist-y ?...

    it's a new industry (relatively speaking) and i dunno how mature its structures are..whereas i do know various unions exist in other similar entertainment arenas both on the creative and technical sides.

    Maybe women should work more hours if they want to be paid for more hours. If a man works more hours then a woman (which this article avoids entirely) then the man will invariably be paid more.

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