Gender wage gap: How the game industry compares to the U.S. average

The gender pay gap is once again a hot topic in the world of U.S. politics, and in the world of video game development, the issue has reared its head.
The gender pay gap is once again a hot topic in the world of U.S. politics, and in the world of video game development, the issue has reared its head. According to Gamasutra's Game Developer Salary Survey 2014 [PDF], men working U.S.-based salaried jobs in the game industry made $85,074 on average in 2013, whereas women made an average of $72,882 (excluding students and educators). That means on average, women made 86 cents on every dollar that men made in the U.S. game industry. While it’s still an issue that needs to be fixed, the game industry gender wage gap is smaller than the national average: In the U.S. overall, women make 77 cents on every dollar that men make, according figures from a 2012 Census Bureau survey. The chart below shows the pay gap in various game industry positions. In 2013, game design had the smallest gap, with women making 94 percent of what men do on average in the U.S. Audio professionals had the largest, with women making 68 percent of men on average.

Research beyond the realm of video games has examined possible causes for the gender wage gap. One of the prevailing theories, reported by Pew Research, is that women are more likely to experience career interruption than men, as a higher percentage of women take time off to care for family. Such career interruptions could have an impact on longer-term earnings. More flexibility in working conditions and hours could hold the key to further closing the wage gap, and perhaps have a greater effect than employee revolt or anti-discrimination laws, experts say. Harvard University labor professor Claudia Goldin said in a recent paper [PDF], “The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.” The government this year has made the gender wage gap a sticking point for U.S. politics. In April, President Obama backed directives meant to help close the wage gap by signing legislation that would make it easier for workers to sue companies for disparate pay.

Check out the full report!

Conducted in May 2014 for the period between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013, Gamasutra gathered well over 4,000 unique responses worldwide, with help from market research company Audience Insights. You can download the full PDF here, and check out Salary Survey highlights all this week at our special Salary Survey page on Gamasutra.

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