Bonnie Ross, the head of Microsoft’s dedicated Halo studio 343 Industries, has shared her thoughts on the difficulty of recruiting women in games development, and how she thinks educators could address the gender gap. In an interview with CBS News’ 60 Minutes, Ross said she would love to bring more women onto the Halo team.
“Boys and men, the numbers are moving up. We are getting a lot more into computer science. But with women and girls, it’s going down,” she said. “In many times there’s not even a way where I could bring a woman into a specific job because the candidates are just not there.”
Ross went on to point out that because women are so in-demand at tech companies, the market is very competitive for recruiting them. She cited that women with computer science degrees who intern at Microsoft are sometimes offered full positions, but already have offers from 5-7 other big tech companies.
“These women, basically they open every door because we all want them, and there’s so few of them, and they’re amazingly talented,” she said. “There’s just not that many of them.”
Since women with computer science degrees are such a rarity, Ross and other tech companies need a bigger pool of candidates. To address that, more women and girls need to become interested in the profession from an early age. Ross says that could come from how educators position tech jobs.
“Research that we’ve done at Microsoft of the girls we’ve talked to, 91% of them feel that they are creative, they identify with being creative,” Ross said. “But when asked about computer science, they don’t see computer science as creative. And so I think that we do need to connect the dots. Because it is incredibly creative, it’s just that we’re not doing a good job of showing them what they can do with it.”
343 Industries is currently at work on Halo Infinite, which Ross recently called a “spiritual reboot” of the franchise. She was also the latest inductee of the Gaming Hall of Fame award at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.