“Back then, esports wasn’t really a career,” she says. “We were competing in all-weekend tournaments for just a mousepad. Now we have tournaments that are worth millions of dollars. Because gaming is getting bigger and there is more of a spotlight on it, we’re seeing more female role models, which is going to encourage girls who want to compete.”
Schools may need to tweak their esports recruiting approach to make sure it isn’t alienating novice players. Laylah Bulman, founder and executive director of the Florida Scholastic Esports League, which helped schools across the state launch esports clubs in 2019 that participate in regional and national tournaments, says that in a number of the clubs, roughly 50 percent of the players are girls.
Initially, though, more male students tended to be part of the competitive teams within the clubs. Female students gravitated toward becoming club president and taking on other leadership positions — perhaps indicating, Bulman says, they didn’t feel they had the necessary experience to participate in competitive matches.
“On some of the forms, the teachers were asking how many hours of playing students had,” she says. “Those kinds of tryouts perhaps didn’t allow girls to demonstrate their interest. By changing that and making it more accessible, they started addressing the gender imbalance.”
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