The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and Women in Games International are teaming up to create a new badge for girl scouts: video game development. From Girl Gamer:
“Our ultimate goal is to create a STEM-aligned video game badge for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America,” said Amy Allison, vice president at WIGI. “Creating this badge will get young girls excited in technology and science and let them know that they, too, can have a career in the video game industry.”
"STEM" stands for "science, technology, engineering, and mathematics," an area in which the Girl Scouts currently offer badges for things like outdoor exploration, digital art, innovation, and financial literacy.
Adding video-game development into the badge collection is awesome for just about every reason, but especially these two: 1) It makes video games and a career in the video-game field seem like a legitimate, fulfilling, intellectually-relevant and intellectually-worthwhile pursuit, which it is. And 2) It encourages girls, however much or however little, toward a field that you could generously describe as "filled with rampant and vile sexism."
As Tasneem Raja wrote for Mother Jonesin November of last year, female gamers make up around 47 percent of the video-game-playing audience, yet, according to the latest comprehensive study, men make up close to 90 percent of the industry's work force. That's not totally surprising ... because this is Earth, things are messed up, and women have only been able to vote for a fraction of the time we'd consider "modern civilization." Yet, for the women who are able to break in, the wage gap is still pretty big:
According to an annual salary survey of about 4,000 gaming professionals by Game Developer magazine, female animators made $26,000 less than their male counterparts in 2011, on average—female programmers ($83,333) made about 10 grand less then male ones ($93,263).
And there's the issue of the characters in the games themselves. Female characters are almost always victims who need saving and/or portrayed with comically-massive breasts—which is what happens when almost all of the people designing the games are dudes.
Still, this is a start or it's a step or it's, well, it's something. And it's easy to look at the video-game world and get depressed; it should be depressing. But these badges, at least, are a tiny reason not to get too bummed out.