Company NewsMarch 26, 2024

Is gaming the gateway to more women in STEM?

Encouraging gender diversity in STEM continues to be critical. Could gaming, which has become increasingly popular with females, act as a springboard to STEM careers? Let’s explore.
Avatar Gabby Gelbien

Gaming’s always been a part of Claire Brisbart’s life. 

As a young girl playing on her dad’s desktop and PC, she was introduced to Adibou, an educational children’s game popular in France. From there, she graduated to the Sims and SimCity before falling in love with the strategy, precision and team spirit of First Person Shooter (FPS) games. Today, Brisbart is proudly a part of an eSport association as a streamer and Overwatch 2 player who participates in a French tournament called “Overwatch All For One” with friends she met through the association. 

She’s also a product owner and apprentice Business Process Analyst here at Dassault Systèmes. And she says growing up gaming gave her a clear path to becoming a woman in STEM. 

“I’m convinced that gaming has inspired the career I am in,” Brisbart said. “I realized it when I started as a volunteer in my eSport association: I wanted to unite members around a common passion – competitive gaming – and create impactful projects to highlight the eSport sector that is today little known for many. I loved this adventure so much that I woke up one morning and said to myself: ‘In the end, this is what you love in life: to make people happy because their project went well and their experience is better than they expected.’” 

Now, as product owner for, and, where she and a team of six create high-quality products, Brisbart enjoys creating great experiences for users and stakeholders – the same way she did as a teenager working in gaming communities to improve player experiences. She also credits gaming with helping her realize that she wanted to work in a digital ecosystem and for teaching her critical skills like patience and finding quick solutions to problems.

Brisbart is part of a new, more diverse generation of gamers. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 46% of video game players identify as female. In 2024, gaming is made up of a diverse field of players who want to challenge themselves, improve their cognitive skills, relieve stress and connect with others. But it wasn’t always that way. 

Claire playing in a gaming competition - women in games - Dassault Systemes blog

Women & gaming – complicated beginnings 

Gaming, and specifically the video game industry and women, did not always have the greatest relationship. Back in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, leadership positions in the industry were almost exclusively held by men. There’s been a slight improvement since then, but recent studies show that even today just 16% of executive positions among the top 14 global gaming companies are held by women. As a result, historically speaking, female representation in video games has been rare. If those early games did have female characters, they were likely provocatively dressed or “in need of being saved”.

Today, these characters certainly still exist, but there is much greater awareness of the need for diversity in all forms of media, and girls now have the chance to play games with athletic, brave, and smart characters like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda series, and Ellie from The Last of Us. These characters, along with the women coders and developers bringing these games to life, can serve as positive role models to young gamers with big dreams. There’s even some talk that gaming could have the potential to inspire a younger generation of girls to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) – a field still very much in need of greater gender diversity

If you thought to yourself, “Can gaming really be classified as a STEM field?”…the experts have weighed in. According to NASEF, a non-profit organization that incorporates the knowledge of national leaders in education and gaming, gamers follow a very similar process as scientists doing an experiment – finding a problem, thinking of possible solutions, testing the solutions, re-evaluating, trying again, etc – which is often used when trying to out-play opponents in their games. Furthermore, video game design is a STEM career in itself which incorporates elements of computer science, engineering, programming, physics, coding, and more.

STEM careers harness skills taught through gaming

For Laila Jones, the parallels between gaming and her job as a WW Value Engagement Competitive Intelligence Director, are evident every day. 

Laila Jones - women in stem - Dassault Systemes blog

Initially introduced to gaming when her children were teenagers and wanted to play multi-player online games where they would be exposed to adults, Jones joined in to make sure their interactions would be safe. Little did she know she’d grow to love gaming herself, and would continue playing with her family through her kids’ college years and even now as everyone lives in different cities. Today, Jones is a proud, self-described “grey-haired gamer gal,” who gets invited to participate in early releases, alpha or beta testing, and has her own Twitch channel.

Jones strongly believes that gaming allows her to excel at her job here at Dassault Systèmes. It’s a way for her to relax and de-stress her brain while contemplating the mass of information she receives throughout her workday. Depending on her mood, she can always find a virtual world to get lost in – sometimes it’s in a dungeon to fight when she feels frustrated or it’s decorating her game house when she wants to be calm.

“Over the years, I saw trends in how I engaged with my fellow players,” Jones said. “I lead things, I organize people and set a tone, and that’s what I do in my work life, so I realized that these leadership skills are inherent to who I am.”

She also sees parallels between how she engages with the players in her games – who are often of different nationalities, cultures, and personality types and how she connects with the wonderfully diverse group of people who make up Dassault Systèmes. Jones even credits gaming as a way to improve one’s language skills and is looking for French-speaking in-game communities to help accelerate her second language!

Young gamers are the future of women in STEM

When you hear stories like Jones’s and Brisbart’s about gaming and their successful STEM careers, you can’t help but wonder, what if a young girl’s interest in gaming was not only supported but encouraged? Could it lead to more girls pursuing careers in STEM – a field that is still in need of greater gender diversity

In the EU, only half as many women as men are graduating with STEM degrees. This can be attributed to several factors including socioeconomic background, parent and teacher encouragement and even a young woman’s feelings towards being associated with the “geek” or “nerd” identity during their adolescent years. This is unfortunate for the field considering emerging research. 

A 2019 study found girls who are 13-14 years old who played over nine hours of video games a week were three times more likely to go on to pursue a degree in a STEM field than those who do not play video games – even when you considered socio-economic background, ethnicity, and past academic performance. This goes to show that early exposure and encouragement of STEM activities very much have an impact on whether or not girls go on to explore STEM careers. 

“Games teach economics, supply and demand, tactics, stealth, strategies, and how to work with difficult people – these are all critically important to be able to function at senior executive levels,” said Jones. “I’m an engineer by training – so I always encourage young women to head to STEM programs, but I also see that they need to learn to step up, speak up, and be bold, and I think gaming helps with those skills.”

There is often the misconception that playing video games in one’s youth can lead to social isolation and has no cognitive benefits. The reality is video games host several benefits for young girls, including improving their strategy, spatial reasoning, creativity and digital skills. Parents and teachers have an opportunity to not only support girls who like to play video games but also let it serve as inspiration for their future career choices. 

“I’m always proud to say that I’m a girl and I’m fond of eSport and videogames because there is so much positive to say about these passions,” said Brisbart. “How many times have I heard that video games/gaming are dangerous and make you stupid? If I have one desire, it is that all these beliefs are finally banished and that people understand that video games can lead to great encounters and many skills that make the difference once entering the job market.” 

The gaming industry is often a place where engineers and product developers go to test out new technology like AI, the metaverse and virtual worlds, and other industries like healthcare and manufacturing have jumped on board to embrace these tools and use them to change how they work and serve their customers. Early exposure to this kind of revolutionary technology in games where girls can create and explore 3D worlds can be an entry point for those who could go on to explore careers utilizing the very technology that makes up their favorite games. 

Above all else, Jones believes gaming can be a powerful way to build resiliency among girls and women. 

“Gaming teaches us women to get up when we’ve been knocked down, dust off our armor, get our tools or weapons ready again, and to jump back into the fray,” she said. “If I have learned anything it is that I’m stronger than I ever knew I was, and much of that resiliency came from being in scary dungeons, beating the daylights out of an opponent that was 10 times my size, even if I had to try the same battle seven or eight times to finally win. The real world doesn’t seem so daunting after those virtual world battles.”

Stay up to date

Receive monthly updates on content you won’t want to miss


Register here to receive a monthly update on our newest content.