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Bonnie Ross on closing the gender gap in game development

The Halo boss outlined her strategy for equalising the current gender imbalance.

The head of Microsoft’s Halo design lab, 343 Industries, Bonnie Ross spoke out about the persisting difficulty in recruiting female game developers.

Speaking on CBS News’ 60 Minutes, Ross shared her wish to recruit more women to her Halo team, and the need for educators to address the gender gap.

“Boys and men, the numbers are moving up. We are getting a lot more into computer science. But with women and girls, it’s going down,” she said. “In many cases there’s not even a way where I could bring a woman into a specific job, because the candidates are just not there.”

She added that because the demand for women in game dev and tech companies is so high, the market is becoming highly competitive for recruiting them, as more and more companies are looking to recruit women professionals but have such a limited number of female applicants to work with.

Credit: Variety

As a result, Ross said, numerous female applicants with computer science degrees who apply to intern at Microsoft are frequently offered full positions straight away, as well as having offers from five or more other companies.

“The demand is clearly there,” Ross added, “now to tackle the supply.”

In order to expand the pool of candidates, Ross believes that women and girls need to become interested in the tech profession from an early age, which is directly linked to how educators present and position the tech industry to their students.

“Research that we’ve done at Microsoft regarding the girls we’ve talked to, 91% of them feel that they are creative, they identify with being creative,” she said.

“But when asked about computer science, they don’t see computer science as creative. And so I think that we do need to connect the dots. Because it is incredibly creative, it’s just that we’re not doing a good job of showing them what they can do with it.

“If educators and the wider social environment will help promote the many connections between game dev and creativity for young women, I believe this imbalance can be equalized,” she concluded.

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