This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the often invisible minority of EVE players; the women.
A couple of days ago this post popped up on Shaleelianne’s blog, Sovereigntywars. It talks about an incident where the seemingly controversial Minmatar FW pilot and blogger Susan Black was about to find herself on the receiving end of some decidedly sexist taunts directed at her by Amarrian militia pilots enjoying the upper hand on a station camp.
They were cut short by Shaleelianne stepping in to slap their wrists, who is herself an Amarrian FW pilot. By the sounds of it another woman’s intervention pretty much shamed the testosterone out of them and they settled for conventional smack talking instead. Presumably someone was arbitrarily labelled as gay instead. *shrug*
The description of the incident did get me thinking a bit about how the EVE community treats its female minority, and how that minority itself acts. I have seen some pretty varied attitudes over the years.
According to the CSM7 voting analysis, female players make up 5.11% of the total user base. That might sound like a small number, which it is, but it does mean that statistically every 20th person in your corp or alliance is female. Have a think about that, how many women players are you aware of within your corp or alliance? And what is your member count?
Assuming that around half of your corp or alliance are alts of the other half, a member count of 250 (a smallish sized alliance) would mean that you should have about 6 female players on average. Can you think of 6 female players in your alliance? I think most people will struggle with that, and its not necessarily that the ladies aren’t there, but because many female EVE players keep a deliberately low profile to avoid hassle like in the example above.
Some players choose to simply not mention their gender and avoid speaking on voice comms, allowing the male majority to just assume that they are yet another guy playing with an inevitably hawt female avatar. When you read the above example of ‘we should tell her tits or gtfo’ abuse, it really is not hard to see why.
But there are other attitudes I have come across over the years in EVE. I have flown alongside a rather hardcore PVP player who was/is entirely open about her gender and holds her own with the best of them. I have worked with a well respected CEO whose one gender ‘quirk’ was not speaking over TS, but otherwise acting as the ‘mother hen’ of her corp. There was a time when the head diplomat of the Ushra’Khan was a woman, a job we pinned on her at a player meet with the theory that she could bat her virtual eye lashes during troublesome negotiations (couldn’t tell you if that actually worked tbh!). 😉
That 5.11% does have its celebrities, and that is great, although there is a troubling darker side to it. At least one of CCP’s female employees has been the target of some stalker-type behaviour in the recent past, incidents strong enough to draw serious responses from CCP management. And there is of course the day to day things as the example above.
Despite only comprising 5.11% of the user base, and despite many of them keeping a low profile to avoid the unwanted sort of attention, female gamers make an impact in EVE. Of the three players I mentioned above having flown with, all three were active in important organisational or direct leadership roles within the alliance. That is a great thing, these players are adding value to the game by their contributions to the community.
It makes me wonder what would happen if we managed to get over the tits jokes and stop making so many women feel like they have to hide their identity so much in online games. A little less of the “it’s the internet so its fine” attitude would go a long way in making that minority less silent.