I've been thinking a lot about the importance of role models for women after being nominated for The Women of the Future Awards in association with Shell. I'm currently at a very early stage in my career in the games industry, having formed my own studio (Swallowtail Games) last year, and now working as a game designer in residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Growing up, I was fascinated with computers and gaming, mostly due to encouragement from my parents who saw computing as being an increasingly relevant skill to learn. However, the only famous individuals in tech that I knew about were men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. As a child I felt that it was strange that I was interested in computers, probably because I had no role models to look up to.
What is most confusing about the games industry is that 45% of people that play games are in fact women, yet in the UK, women count for only 14% of the workforce. This is a huge problem, as women's creative voices are not being heard. Imagine if the book publishing industry had such a low number of female novelists? We would be missing out on lots of amazing, creative work!
Despite the low amount of women in the games industry, for me, games is the most exciting industry to be involved in - it's in a constant state of change, it's flawed, but there is so much discussion happening every day. It also marries lots of different art forms together (such as animation, music, scriptwriting, sculpture, acting, architecture, etc.) Games aren't just about programming, there are lots of skills needed to create a game and it's important that more women get involved.
These days, I have discovered many amazing women that work in the games industry from attending events like the Women in Games Jobs conference and using social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to chat to other women and feel inspired by their work and talent.
Speaking of role models, I recently attended the Women of the Future Awards Ambassadors Reception, hosted at the Bloomberg offices in London. The event was fantastic, as it grouped professional women with sixth formers, for a chance to network and ask about their future careers. Initially, I felt a bit awkward talking to these students, as it was only last year that I graduated from my master's degree and being 23 seemed too young to be an ambassador of any kind! I placed myself at the Arts and Culture table, as my experience with games design and my current role at the Victoria and Albert Museum might be useful. I met various students bursting with ambition and it was good to hear their goals, and to try and offer advice.
I've been very lucky to have had my achievements broadcast on a large scale, from breakfast television, to newspapers and radio programming. I am always happy to put myself out there, as usually when women my age appear on television, they are usually established celebrities or reality TV contestants. I feel that we need to make more of an effort to show young women in a positive and meaningful way.
That's why initiative such as The Women of the Future Awards is important. I feel completely humbled to be nominated in the 'Technology and Digital' category. It's encouraging to see these awards adapt to show emerging career sectors and the women who are excelling in these fields.
Sophia George is shortlisted for the 2013 Women of the Future Awards.
The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday 13 November and is hosted by Real Business in association with Shell.