What’s the best way to help your image after accidentally taking the side of a gender-based smear campaign in the video game world? Put forth millions of dollars toward getting more women in the industry. Oh, and they promoted Feminist Frequency. I believe they call this a mic drop.
The background: Intel freaked out and pulled advertising from Gamasutra after a group of Gamergate supporters started an online campaign over an opinion piece they felt portrayed them negatively. When they realized they’d fallen prey to part of a large-scale harassment campaign veiled as an “ethics in journalism” cause, they released a statement which read in part, “we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community. That was not our intent, and that is not the case. When it comes to our support of equality and women, we want to be very clear: Intel believes men and women should be treated the same.”
About a month later, Intel reinstated their advertising with Gamasutra saying once again, “it was not our intent to take a position in the current controversy surrounding the gaming community.”
Intel recently revealed “MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating and Inventing,” a study focused on the progress the “makers” movement has had on encouraging girls and boys to get into STEM fields and how to keep girls involved as they get older. Yesterday, Intel announced something equally exciting. The NY Times reports:
On Tuesday, Intel said the company’s work force would better reflect the available talent pool of women and underrepresented minority groups in the United States within five years. If successful, the plan would increase the population of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups at Intel by at least 14 percent during that period, the company said.In addition, Intel said it has established a $300 million fund to be used in the next three years [Editors’s Note: the speech, referenced below, states 5 years] to improve the diversity of the company’s work force, attract more women and minorities to the technology field and make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there. The money will be used to fund engineering scholarships and to support historically black colleges and universities.
“And make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there” is a great addition to the initiative, considering a healthy work environment is certainly a factor for those looking to get into, or who are already in, the field. The White House recently asked for women to share their stories about working in STEM fields to help inspire others to pursue those careers.
But wait! There’s more! The NY Times writes, “The company also said it would invest in efforts to bring more women into the games business, partly as an antidote to the harassment feminist critics and game developers have faced in recent months.”
Yeah, they went there.
“This is the right time to make a bold statement,” Brian M. Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive, told the NY Times. He also told them he took the Gamergate/Gamasutra incident as an opportunity to think “more deeply about the broader issue of diversity in the tech industry,” wrote the Times. He said, “I have two daughters of my own coming up on college age. I want them to have a world that’s got equal opportunity for them.”
In his keynote address (which you can watch in its entirety on CNET) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Krzanich called diversity and inclusion in technology an “important and industry-wide issue that will shape the future.”
“A confluence of industry events has brought this issue to the center stage. From the threats and harassments that have characterized the debate in the gaming world, to the publication of hiring data and diversity statistics in the tech industry, this is a highly relevant issue and one that we all need to address,” he said in the speech. “I’m here to say tonight, it’s time to step up and do more. It’s not good enough to say we value diversity and then have our workplaces and our industry not reflect the full availability and talent pool of women and underrepresented minorities.”
Krzanich also noted Intel would be measuring and reporting their progress on the initiative on a regular basis and with “full transparency.” He also said, “We’re going to hold our leaders accountable by tying their pay to our progress.”
“Together with partners and industry leaders in diversity, gaming, and education,” said Krzanich standing in front of logos including that of Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency and the Grace Hopper Celebration, “we will make a difference.”
Part of the $300 million fund will go towards a professional women’s gaming team. “It has partnered with the International Game Developers Association, a nonprofit that will send 20 female college students to a game developer conference with Intel’s support,” says the Times, “The association wants to double the number of women working in the games industry over the next decade, according to Kate Edwards, its executive director.”
The general consensus seems to be Intel will be the first step toward other companies making the same efforts to improve diversity. The Times spoke with Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. who has talked with Intel about their initiative. He said, “There is no comparison… It is far beyond at this point. I think others are going to follow their lead.” They also wrote “the company estimates that if the black population with the appropriate technical skills was fully represented at Intel today, the company’s current population of black workers would grow by about 48 percent.”
In his speech, Krzanich said, “This isn’t just good business, it’s the right thing to do.”
(images via screenshots from CNET)
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