Colleges and universities rushing to invest in the booming arena of varsity esports are overwhelmingly committing opportunities and scholarships to male players, according to data collected by The Associated Press.
Male gamers held 90.4% of roster spots and received 88.5% of scholarship funds in a sample of 27 public American schools surveyed by the AP during this school year. The glaring gender disparity exists even though 41% of U.S. gamers are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and in a realm where — unlike traditional sports — there are no physical barriers separating male and female competitors.
“It’s tremendously sad and tremendously not surprising,” said Grace Collins, an expert on gaming, education and gender.
The AP requested roster and scholarship data from 56 public U.S. schools identified among the 192 participants in the National Association of Collegiate Esports, relying largely on public records requests.
Several schools responded that although their programs compete at the varsity level, they had not been sanctioned varsity status by the school. Their roster data was often incomplete, and those programs were held out of the sample. A handful of other schools either denied the AP’s request or did not respond to repeated messages.
The AP’s data set covers only a small sample of the landscape. But the overwhelming results confirm what esports coaches, players and experts have identified on their own as a problem since the first varsity