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

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

This weekend saw Abu Dhabi native Amna Al Qubaisi take pole position and streak to victory by over three seconds to win Saturday’s Abu Dhabi Formula 1 F4 support race. Ahead of the Formula One Esports Pro Series finalwe pick up on the comment made last week by Nicolas Maurer,  Chief  Executive of the Team Vitality esports organisation 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 SQN announced in October 2019that we have partnered with Init Sports Management to create 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 in 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 Management)  is a former  three-times World Motocross Champion  who understands the challenges women can face in this environment. Claire Ritchie-Tomkins (CEO of  SQN) has spent her entire professional life working in the technology and motorsport industries, also with a lack of female role models. Both 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. Our Head of Digital, Dan McLaren, 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!  

If you want to learn more about  Init Esports contact Claire directly via email at  claire.ritchie@sqn.agency