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EA's Feinstein Sees 'Tremendous Advantage' For Women In Games Biz

Ahead of a panel appearance, Electronic Arts VP Carolyn Feinstein tells Gamasutra why the concept of games as "a business for guys" is rapidly changing, and why diversity in leadership and hiring is key.
"I believe that being a woman in our industry is a tremendous advantage, not a disadvantage in any way," Electronic Arts VP of consumer marketing Carolyn Feinstein tells us. We caught up with Feinstein just ahead of Pink Magazine's 5th annual Fall empowerment series seminar, where, as part of a panel of other inspiring businesswomen, she planned to discuss her 11-year career in a traditionally male-dominated industry. "Overall, I really think that companies are more successful when they have a diversity of perspective around both creative and business decisions." says Feinstein. "If you look at our industry, our industry is stronger, bigger and more diverse than it's ever been by virtue of the people who are in the business." Feinstein has seen a continuing evolution in the games biz's diversity over the course of her career. "When I got here, there were far fewer women at EA," she says, recalling the days where it wasn't unusual for her to be one of the only women at any industry function. "The diversity of who's in gaming now is reflected in how broad the spectrum of products we create are," she tells us. "We now recognize that interactive entertainment is a great way to express passion for all sorts of things." And Feinstein says there's never been a better time for women to feel drawn to the industry. "From a business perspective, there are very few roadblocks," she says. "Most companies, I'm assuming, are... very very focused and interested in bringing talented, passionate women to the company," she says, emphasizing how strongly she's seen this in practice at EA. "It's a focus of ours," she says. "We all believe in this kind of diversity platform for how we can be the best company we can be." So the only roadblock, she says, is interest. "It's still an industry that's not an immediate first choice for a lot of women," she says. "It's incumbent on all of us, as women in this business, to be out there evangelizing all the creative and business opportunities that exist here. It's one of the most exciting and dynamic industries to work in, regardless of gender." It's true that it's becoming increasingly common to see women in business roles in the industry, while populations of developers don't see quite the same balance. "I think we are seeing an ever-increasing number of women in game development," says Feinstein. "I think more girls are going to start growing up playing games, and are going to be excited about that." "It's a trend issue," she says. "I grew up in a household with all sisters, and we were a few years too young to have grown up in a household where gaming was central to our experience. But that won't be true for my daughters." How can companies welcome more diverse perspectives? "I think that companies need to model behavior," she says, "and... put a diverse leadership team together that is reflective of the kind of employee population that they desire. They need to be open and desirous of hearing the opinions of everyone in the company, and be really focused and aggressive in their hiring processes." "Obviously, what we want is the best talent for any position -- but I think it's important to understand that... a diversity of opinion makes for the best company." Feinstein says that gaming's evolving audiences have made her job easier. "I spent the first eight or nine years of my marketing career in gaming spending my life inside the head of a 20 year old guy," she laughs. "But now I have the opportunity to also, with a product like EA Sports Active, for the first time in my career at EA I'm marketing to myself, and to people that I understand intuitively." Feinstein hopes her appearance at the leadership seminar will help encourage other women. "We still feel, to many people, like a business for guys, and I'm excited to put a face on the fact that that's not exclusively the case at all," she says.

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