Study Finds Women Just as Skillful as Men in Online Multiplayer Video Games

shenA new study led by Cuihua Shen, an assistant professor of communication at the University of California, Davis, debunks the stereotype that women are inferior to men in performance on online multiplayer video games. Dr. Shen and colleagues tracked thousands of players in two multiplayer online role-playing games and compared how quickly men and women moved from one level to the next.

Dr. Shen and her colleagues found that women make up about 20 percent of the players of these games. Accounting for differences in playing time, character choice and membership in a players’ guild, the researchers found that women advanced at least as fast as men. “Once you take into account all these confounding factors, the gender differences disappear,” D. Shen said. “There is no gender difference.”

The authors state that stereotypes that women are not proficient at online gaming may discourage women from entering high-tech fields. “Games have become a very important realm of our culture,” Dr. Shen notes. “It has become an important entry point for people into STEM-related careers. For young girls, it has become a place for them to become familiar with the tech world.”

Dr. Shen is a graduate of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. She holds a master’s degree from the National University of Singapore and a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The study, “Do Men Advance Faster Than Women? Debunking the Gender Performance Gap in Two Massively Multiplayer Online Games,” was published on the website of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. It may be accessed here.

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