New research has emerged for International Women’s Day courtesy of OddsMonkey that shows more of a pay canyon than a pay gap when it comes to women in esports. In comparison to their male counterparts, elite female gamers earn a whopping 98% less in winnings. For many, earning the $33,202.21 average earned by elite female gamers is still an admirable target. But in an age where top-tier esports stars are netting a cool average of $1,991,618.32, it’s enough to make you think twice. And those thoughts probably include ‘why didn’t I spend more time playing Dota 2?’
Drawing on prize money data from Esportsearnings.com, the average winnings for the top 100 highest-earning players against the top 100 highest-earning female players. The conclusion was that for every £100 earned by the average elite gamer, the typical female elite gamer earns just £1.67.
The graphic above compares the top 10 in overall prize winnings for female players and overall top-earning players. Sitting at the top of the female elite gamers list is Scarlett - StarCraft II champion and first woman to win a Starcraft II major tournament. Scarlett sits 325th in the full list of highest-earning gamers, however, which is lightyears away from the number 1 spot where N0tail sits at $6.97m. Excuse me while I contemplate my life choices.
It is certainly worth noting that every one of the top 10 highest earners are Dota2 aficionados - a game whose esports tournament, 'The International', doled out a $40million prize pool last year. Needless to say, as one of the most competitive games in the industry, it’s no wonder that Dota 2 masters are millionaires.
As for the absence of female players, however, OddsMonkey spokesperson, Peter Watton, had this to say:
‘"I believe that our analysis demonstrates the underrepresentation of females at the elite level of e-sports. Consider that 41% of women are gamers — this has been as high as 46% in recent years —so it would be logical to believe there should be a greater number following their hobby to its pinnacle. The top prizes are open to gamers of all genders, so it seems like so much untapped potential.
"There certainly isn't a lack of skill or potential among women, so the reason for the earnings disparity is not based on ability. But there is something stopping female gamers making that step, and it's likely to do with the culture that surrounds e-sports. Not only is the field very much a male-dominated space, but there is a stigma and toxicity in some areas that can be off-putting for female gamers. A shift in this culture and acceptance of female gamers would make e-sports a more attractive proposition.
"How to shift this balance is an interesting question. Taking more time to celebrate female e-sports stars as role models would be a good start at showing the next generation of gamers the success that can be achieved. There's also certainly room for all-female e-sports teams and clubs to help increase participation numbers in tournaments and provide a safe space. We also need to continue fighting the stigma attached to women in gaming across the board, as things won’t truly change until the wider industry is more accepting."
It's certainly baffling to think that female representation is so low when women comprise nearly half of all gamers. So on this year’s International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate women in esports and help to ensure that, in the near future, we shrink that gap as much as possible.
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