How women have made their impact in esports

How women have made their impact in esports

Adam McGowan
5 min read | 11 Mar 2021

The age-old idea of gaming being made for men is slowly vanishing, with more and more women taking steps into esports each day.

It is estimated that the number of women working in the esports industry sits at about 1 in 20 people – and is still on the rise.

But where did it all start?

In the 90s, the concept of ‘Girl Games’ became quite popular, where developers would try and create games to appeal specifically to young women.

These generally consisted of lots of pink, Barbie and domestic stereotypes, but women were still inclined to play the games that had been branded for men.

Fast forward a decade, and women are winning tournaments, managing major esports platforms and marketing has become a whole lot more objective.

So why do people still think gaming is for men?

Even though esports are open to both men and women, the lack of female representation drives this stereotype that the industry is male-dominated.

But, this missing representation is gradually being challenged – with more women taking spotlight to become these missing role models.

Professional players like Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn (Starcraft) , Xiaomeng ‘VKLiooon’ Li (Hearthstone) and Ksenia “vilga” Klyuenkova (CS:GO) are just some of the individuals paving the way to show that women have skills, and can dominate the competitive esports scene.

VKliooon was the first woman to win a major BlizzCon Championship title, and has been an inspiration for many other female gamers.

Following her win, she said: “I want to say to all the girls out there who have a dream for esports, for competition, for glory – if you wanna do it and you believe in yourself, you should just forget your gender and go for it.”

Whilst this is only a few of the incredible women in esports, there are so many others that also work every day to break this stigma.

What about toxicity?

Toxicity is incredibly prevalent, and even if you are just playing a game casually, toxicity and sexism generally pop up to reinforce these stereotypes.

Typically: ‘go back to the kitchen where you belong’ or ‘oh, you’re another egirl” are just the tip of the iceberg for toxic behaviour.

Generally, women tend to mute themselves or not interact vocally in online matches; due to the impact of these toxic behaviours.

But more and more women are also taking a stand against this behaviour to make a welcoming and supportive community to game in.

Several initiatives such as AnyKey, and Women in Games have been created over the last few years to give women a safe space to express their passion for esports, as well as showcase the amazing work they produce.

Women in Esports was set up by the British Esports Association in 2019, and has become a community of women (and femme identifying individuals) with a huge passion for esports.

Morgan Ashurst, Marketing Manager at British Esports, said: “It feels so incredible
to have set up this initiative to hopefully pave the way for the next generation of females
to ‘make it’,”

“Myself and Alice are joined by such an incredible team with our Women in Esports committee who help us steer forward our initiative and fulfil our goals,” she added.

Morgan also used to play Call of Duty competitively from 2011, and was featured in the Channel 4 series ‘Pro Gamers’ after holding the title of the ‘Best Female COD player in Europe’.

She said: “There are some titles throughout esports that are known for being toxic, Call of Duty was known as one of the worst. As I started to prove I could compete at a higher-level people started to take me more seriously, and with me being able to outgun or pull in decent numbers in games with top tier teams – it definitely turned some heads.”

Regardless of the backlash women have received over the years, more and more individuals are taking their step into esports. Although it can be a challenging journey, it is well worth it in the long run!


About Women in Esports

Towards the end of 2019 British Esports launched the campaign to promote diversity and inclusivity within the esports industry. In 2020 British Esports announced that the Women in Esports campaign is now an ongoing initiative, resulting in the formation of a Women in Esports committee.

How to get involved in the initiative.



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