Five influential women in mobile and gaming tech
As an industry, software development has long been associated with gender bias towards men. In 2010, women accounted for just 15-17% of the technical roles at software giants Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. In 2015, only 20% of software developers in Silicon Valley are women and they make approximately 61% less than their male counterparts.
However, companies are keen to address the gender issue and have invested heavily in attracting female talent to the industry. It comes as a surprise in an increasingly socially-conscious world that software development is still lagging behind in terms of equality. There are however women leading the charge. Here are some of the most influential of them:
If you’ve played many games on the app store or on Facebook, you’ll have probably encountered Zynga. The company is responsible for hits like Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars and Farmville.
Wixted worked as part of Zynga’s mobile team and then started her own company, developing Turf geography club for the app store and then moving into a consultancy role at meteorgrove. Wixted has released a number of titles such as Maze Crusade, WELDER and Chariot Racer. She once turned down an offer from Instagram so she could continue working on games, which she has said she finds both challenging and rewarding.
Augmented reality software is big business. Claire Boonstra co-founded Layar in 2009 and the app has been downloaded more than 26 million times. Allowing businesses to create AR experiences, such as smartphone tours launching from a real estate brochure, Layar has had a huge impact on the tech world. Claire has since left the company and moved into education, delivering a memorable presentation at TEDxAmsterdamED.
Amy Jo Kim
A designer and web architect who has worked on sites such as eBay, NYtimes and Indiegogo, Amy Jo Kim has a long history with the tech scene. She has also worked on games such as Ultima Online and Rock Band. Nowadays, Amy is the CEO of Shufflebrain, a smart game design company that works with brands such as EA and Disney.
While the other women on our list have been heavily mobile-centric, Bonnie Ross is the queen of games development as the corporate vice president of 343 industries. The studio is responsible for the development of Microsoft’s massive Halo franchise, one of the world’s most recognisable series.
Chelsea Howe is a mobile gaming expert, having worked on Family Guy: The quest for stuff before transitioning into a creative director role at EA mobile, which is the #5 grossing mobile games publisher in the world thanks to titles such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out. She also runs the San Francisco global game jam and teaches developers at the California College of Arts.
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Photo: Rob Fahey