"Although video gaming is becoming a more widespread activity beyond its historically core demographic of young males, participation in competitive gaming remains largely male dominated. Addressing this issue, this research examines the experience of female players in one of the world’s most popular games, League of Legends.
Two studies—one qualitative (with 15 participants) and the other quantitative (with 16,821 participants)—confirm that although female players accrue skill at the same rate as males, there remains a dearth of female players in this community. Moreover, those females who play with a male partner are less confident in their skills and often focus on supporting their partner’s advancement, not their own. This work suggests that one way to address the gender gap in gaming is to better understand and improve the social dynamics within popular games."
"As explored in Study 1 and supported by Study 2, many female players may be compelled, pressured, or otherwise directed toward playing the Support role that, though requiring no less competence than other in in-game roles (and arguably more), is nonetheless seen by many players as subordinate to, and less desirable than, the role of ADC."
"Two other factors, which likely contribute to the systematic gender gap in competitive games as a whole, are the social climate that is hostile to females, and the stereotype that females do not belong in, or are not skilled at, the game.
These factors likely hinder the female players from gaining confidence in the game, much as reminders of a negative stereotype induce people associated with that stereotype to conform to the negative expectation (Steele & Aronson, 1995). In other words, many female League players may face a vicious cycle by believing that they are suitable only for Support roles or, more problematically, that they do not belong in the game, female players may refrain from intensive play and/or experimentation with other game roles, which in turn perpetuates these very stereotypes."