Gender Diversity in Esports: Progress and challenges in achieving gender equality within the esports industry

In this article we will look at the progress made and the challenges faced in achieving gender equality in the industry, as well as look at the growth in the number of female gamers in recent years.

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By Karthik Raman | Jan 10, 2024 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Once considered a niche subculture, esports has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that rivals traditional sports in terms of viewership and popularity. Despite its meteoric rise, however, the sporting industry still faces significant gender inequality. However, steps are being taken to prevent the pressing problems.

Increasingly, top clubs are signing women’s squads to participate in a variety of leagues and events, the number of which has been increasing in recent years. A marker of progress in women’s computer sport can be seen in the appearance of lines for women’s championships on the esports betting sites. However, the industry is still a long way from full gender equality.

In this article we will look at the progress made and the challenges faced in achieving gender equality in the industry, as well as look at the growth in the number of female gamers in recent years, the prospects for women’s esports and the problems in paying male and female professional gamers.

The rise in the number of female gamers

In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of female gamers actively participating in esports. Women, previously unrepresented, are now gaining their place in the gaming arena. A prime example of this is Sasha “Scarlett” Hostin, a Canadian professional StarCraft II player. The girl is one of the few women in the Starcraft 2 discipline and representing the North American club Shopify Rebellion consistently takes high places in top American tournaments like DH SC2 Masters 2020 Fall: North America. Scarlett’s talent and achievements have broken gender barriers and inspired countless female gamers to pursue a career in esports.

Another role model worthy of emulation is China’s Xiaomen “VKLiooon” Li. VKLiooon became the first ever female Hearthstone World Champion by winning the GrandMasters Global Finals championship in 2019.

Arguing in favor of the rise of female Hearthstone players is the recent signing of female rosters by Finnish organisation ENCE. Women’s rosters have become the norm in CSGO and in recent years there has been an improvement in the situation and more and more top CSGO clubs have added women’s rosters. This is thanks to a tournament infrastructure that is quite advanced by the standards of women’s esports, in particular the ESL Impact series.

Although female representation has improved, they are still a minority in the professional gaming scene. Harassment and discrimination are persistent problems faced by female gamers online and at competitions. However, organisations such as AnyKey, which advocates for diversity and inclusion in esports, are working tirelessly to address these issues and create a safer environment for all players.

Representation in leadership

Gender diversity extends not only to players, but also to leadership and management positions in еѕроrtѕinу organisations. Historically, these positions have been male-dominated, but this is changing. Kim Phan, formerly director of esports operations at Blizzard Entertainment, and Nicole LaPoint Jameson, CEO of Evil Geniuses, are prime examples of women in leadership roles in the industry.

Leadership can also include Potter, the female coach of Evil Geniuses’ American VALORANT team. She was the first woman in the world to lead the club to victory in the World Cup, earning her a place in the annals of gaming history.

Nevertheless, leadership continues to be male-dominated, reflecting the broader challenges faced by women in leadership positions across industries. The increasing number of women in leadership positions in the еѕроrtѕе is a positive sign, but concerted efforts are needed to create a more inclusive environment.

Gender pay gap

Despite esports boasting huge prize money and sponsorship, the gender pay gap remains a concern. Female esports players on average earn significantly less than their male counterparts. This disparity is most evident in games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where prize pools are substantial, although, increasingly, tournaments for women’s national teams are receiving substantial prize pools.

One of the most glaring examples of this gender pay gap is the earnings gap between men and women competing in the Fortnite World Championship. Despite being one of the largest sporting events in the world, female participants earned many times less than their male counterparts. This difference emphasizes the critical need for equality in the distribution of prizes and sponsorship opportunities.

Esports organisations and tournament organisers must address this issue by taking steps to close the gender pay gap and ensure that female players are fairly rewarded for their talent and hard work.

Education initiatives

To make a lasting difference, addressing gender inequality in esports must start at the educational level. Initiatives to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and play for young girls are vital. Organisations such as Girls Who Code and the Girl Scouts are actively involved in empowering girls to explore esports and game development as promising career paths.

In addition, educational institutions are increasingly offering esports programmes and scholarships, giving both male and female students the opportunity to pursue their passion for games. These initiatives promote gender diversity in esports from the very beginning.


Gender diversity in esports has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. The rise of female gamers, representation in leadership, the gender pay gap and educational initiatives are critical aspects that require constant attention and improvement.

The industry has made notable strides, with inspirational individuals breaking down barriers and organisations striving for inclusivity. But the eѕportѕy needs to address harassment, discrimination and the gender pay gap, while nurturing and training the next generation of talent.

Gender equality in esports is not just a matter of fairness, it is a strategic imperative. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing diversity and inclusion will lead to increased innovation, creativity and competitiveness. Now is the time for esports to become a true event, leveling the playing field for everyone, regardless of gender. Only then can we truly appreciate the full potential of esports as a global phenomenon that transcends traditional boundaries.