In light of International Women's Day, SiGMA News reached out to various power women, from all corners of the world, who have made it to the top of the ladder and asked if being a woman has affected them in reaching the top positions they hold today
Since the mid 1950s, the casino and gaming worlds have largely been dominated by men, with women being under-represented at their highest levels. In light of a day marked to celebrate women's achievements and rights, some top tier industry leading girls give their take on what it's like to be a women in a male dominated industry.
Sue Schneider, Leading expert in the iGaming industry
As Chair of the Interactive Gaming Council with 120 members (’96-’04), I was typically one of only 3 or 4 women in the room. I’m not sure if it was my age, my attitude or just my organisational skills but I never really had any problems with being in that leadership position.
Womens’ roles in our industry continue to lag which is why I take every chance that I can to support women coming up in the gaming world.
Maria Boelius, Head of casino operations at Spiffbet
I feel quite privileged as coming from Finland I have never even had to think of not being able to reach top positions because of being a woman. Finland is a very gender equal country and was actually the 3rd in the world to grant women the right to vote. Living abroad for most of my adult life I have noticed that this is not the case in all countries. I have been in situations during my years in iGaming where I was not taken seriously because I was a young woman, but I have never let that affect me.
Running Cashmio for the past 5 years, gender has never played a role in hiring people. We are in fact 85% women in Cashmio, although this has not been intentional. We have just been lucky that so many talented women have applied to work with us! We have an amazing team! -Maria Boelius, CEO and Co-Founder at Cashmio
Janietzche Megun, Founder & President, Legends Gaming Solutions
Being a woman in the gaming industry did prevent women from reaching the top. For us at Legends it took years to get where we are and harder work than some of our colleagues! We didn’t play golf or have the luxury of attending conferences and events until 20 years in the industry. It was attended predominantly by men while the women worked in the background and ran the business.
We were turned down for many promotional opportunities and the make staff we hired and trained climbed the ladder quicker than the women as we were considered too young. Back then, women were also held back due to BBBEE for about 10 years. Then there was the set back of not being in the social circles or a man. So, women at Legends climbed purely by being reconised by international companies, hard work and starting our own Gaming company to be the first women in gaming owned and operated company in South Africa.
Rhi Burns, Chief Commercial Officer, Zimpler
Being female definitely did set me behind my peers in progression. My whole career I’ve been taken that bit less seriously than my male counterparts and seen less qualified men climb the ladder much faster.
Luckily, I’m fairly tenacious and never gave up and was lucky enough to find great mentors like my boss Klas at Catena Media and my boss Johan at Zimpler who helped champion me and get me where I deserved to be. It’s getting better, with more women taking those top positions, we will start to see the gender imbalance shift and I will use my position to push that forward as much as possible!
Beatrice Collet, Managing Director, Chiliz Blockchain Campus
Perhaps I was lucky, but being a woman never was an obstacle to my career, I could even say it was an accelerator at times.
I believe today as long as you demonstrate you are up for the challenge, you have a good network and you take pride in advancing in your career, then we have equal opportunities as men. At least, this was my experience so far.
Sophie Crouzet, Chief Operation Officer, SiGMA Group
I feel extremely lucky that my gender didn’t affect me when it comes to reaching my current position. My parents always made sure that education and school were the number one priority independently of my gender and taught me the value of working hard and pursuing goals in light of achievement.
I do acknowledge the gender gap in the industry but I'm also extremely lucky to work in a company that promotes diversity and inclusion. SiGMA really understands that these components optimise teams and collective brain/creative input.
Alison Brincat, Head of Affiliates, Branders
I believe that in today’s day and age, where progression and evolution is happening by the minute, discussions on female empowerment and gender equality should not even need to happen.
It should be taken for granted that people of different genders are assessed solely on their professional capabilities and not stereotyped in any way. Being determined to push past certain conservative bullies is what helped me move on.
Megan Palm, Affiliate Manager, Bitstarz Casino
Over the past 7 years I have been fortunate enough to work alongside some forward thinking industry leaders, that have not only created an inclusive environment for all to work within, but provided woman with the opportunities required within the industry to grow and become the leaders of tomorrow.
At BitStarz, this forward thinking, trail blazing culture is at the centre of all we do.
Emilie Zamponi, Director Business Development, SuperSeven
I have been working in gaming since 2012, mostly in the commercial side of the iGaming business. I have always been surrounded by both men and women, from different backgrounds and from all over the world. I have reported mainly to men during those years, but I never felt like my opinion or views didn't register because of my gender - I have always been treated on an equal footing.
I am very grateful as my achievements and growth led to me managing and leading my own team - comprising two brilliantly smart ladies - today! My progression, I believe, is down to men and women balancing each other out on a professional and emotional level, which is key to running a successful business.
Sarah Blackburn, Director, Gameon
I’m very mindful that my career has thrived because, to my knowledge, I have always been considered the best person for the job regardless of my gender.
I know that this has not been the same experience for everyone which makes me appreciate all my male counterparts that have helped support, shape and influence the diversity message. Because it’s important.
Kelly Kehn, Co-Founder at All-in Diversity Project and Global Relationships Director at SBC
To all the women of our industry, I’m wishing you success and fulfilment in your career. It’s not easy getting to a place where you are valued, but with every year there are more companies supporting equality and more role models out there for you.
Celebrate your unique story and keep pushing.
Maria Lodenborg, Brand & Media Buyer, Videoslots
What drove me and made me reach my goals is hard work, education, networking, passion for work, confidence and believing in myself and what I can do, my skills and thick skin.
My focus was always on my goals and learning more to keep bettering myself rather than focusing on gender.
It is no secret that our industry is a men’s clubs and that women need to work harder, but the world is changing when it comes to that to the better and I am happy with my progress so far.
Marie Theobald, Chief People Officer, Hero Gaming
I was brought up to not think any less of myself then my male colleagues just because I’m female. I’ve always believed that hard work, grit, perseverance, empathy and compassion could get me to any position I wanted to be in, regardless of my gender.
I also consider myself lucky to have worked with inspirational role models, both male and female who have opened up many doors for me along the way and to those people, I am extremely grateful.
Helen Walton - Founder & Chief Commercial Officer - Gluck Games
I started working in iGaming relatively late in my career, as an entrepreneur rather than from within a corporate structure. That meant I'd already become a senior manager working in FMCG, retail and tech.
It has to be said that at first I found it the most male dominated industry I'd ever worked in and one where I was occasionally shocked by attitudes I had assumed were extinct - from the ubiquitous scantily-clad models at events to a higher response rate to my emails when I masqueraded as a male colleague.
Yet, only 8 years on, it's a joy is to see change happening at such pace, from the greater visibility of women in leadership positions to a growth in women entering the industry and a greater focus on women as players and customers. Long may it continue! And here's to all the wonderful women who work with me, both in G and elsewhere in the industry. I'm so glad you're here!
We, at SiGMA Group salute these women, and their accomplishments, in honor of International Women’s Day while wishing them the best of luck for what the future has in store!
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