Fear Itself

Why is it that women in the gaming industry are always at the wrong end of the data set? Gaming observer Richard Schuetz explains why the feedback he gets from women demonstrates that they are afraid to demand a place at the table because they stand to lose what little they’ve gained.

Fear Itself

Students: “What would we do in a world without fear?”
Teacher: “Live”

It is interesting to start an article on diversity in gaming and note that two members of the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame have been featured in numerous front-page articles about potential rapes and accusations of sexual harassment, and other forms of inappropriate conduct with women. Both individuals continue to be troubled by litigation surrounding the different allegations.

It is also then noteworthy that gaming is an industry that prides itself on operating at the highest levels of character, honesty, and integrity; or at least that is the story that is told. The powerful force that allowed the alleged abuses by the Hall of Famers to take place was some executive level bro-code upheld by very misguided men and women in the system, as well as a material fear on the part of the victims to report such transgressions.

Several years ago I began writing about the civil rights of women in gaming. I didn’t know I was writing about the civil rights of women. I actually thought I was just writing about women, but I discovered I was writing about the civil rights of women when I started to travel across the Civil Rights Trail in the Deep South of the United States.

I really was not particularly organized when I started writing about women. I just started writing about things that seemed unfair. I am actually a bit more of a data guy, and one does not have to look far to find women are normally on the wrong-end of the data set when it comes to just about any measurable benefit vis a vis men. Here is a startling revelation to the reader, there are a lot more men executives than women executives. Another news flash is that men are paid more. Moreover, these trends are not changing. In noticing these realities, I then began writing about them, and my main theme was they were unfair. I am still writing about them for I feel they are still unfair.

An interesting thing happened when I started writing about women and that was that women started writing and talking to me about the challenges they faced. They would give me compliments, scold me, correct me, and they would educate me; and they would do this by telling me stories and giving me examples. I got many of the big issues, such as salary and wage disparities, unequal opportunities for advancement, and the like, for the data in these areas stand out like a sore thumb.

What I was being told by my new women friends was more subtle and more nuanced, and some of these episodes caused a bit of uncomfortable introspection. When mansplaining was explained to me it then seemed most obvious. Beyond that, it was obvious that it was also something that I did. When it was pointed out to me that men talked for a higher percentage of the time on panels, that seemed to make sense with the world I lived in. It was also true that I was guilty as charged.

I recently wrote an article that suggested that women’s progress was somewhat glacial it its pace and in using the example of Rosa Parks, I suggested that maybe women should think about getting more aggressive. I opined that women might start off with what I thought was a low-hanging fruit, and that was to say no to manels, that is, all male panels. To this suggestion, I received an interesting comment. In effect, the comment said that what I did not understand was that women are afraid that if they step outside of the accepted gender defined roles in gaming and complain that they potentially stand to lose, and in the pandemic phase of gambling that women believe the chances of losing have increased.

Wow. More insight.

In looking at the terrible civil rights abuses along the Civil Rights Trail, it was obvious that there were there really mean people within the system. There is no Hell too hot for these souls, I would argue. There were other people who allowed this pain to happen, however, and these were the people who went along with the abuses and did nothing. And basically, that was just about everyone else, year after year after year.

I think this is what really bothers me the most about the situation in gaming today.

There is clearly blatant discrimination taking place in the gaming industry against women. The men that lead can tell story after story of how enlightened and fair they are all day in speeches and at conferences, yet in action after action they will continue to appoint and reward people who are basically just like them.

This means more men. It seems that women are expected to understand their place and accept it, and they better accept it, for if they don’t they fear their careers will be affected.

I believe I am coming to understand the fear that women feel, and I believe it is real. I also think it is terribly unfair. What bothers me in all of this are those men who say nothing and do nothing and just go along with the program. These are the people who perpetuate an unjust system and allow it to continue, and it seems they will do nothing to help the system change. That is what I fear the most.

Articles by Author: Richard Schuetz

Richard Schuetz started dealing blackjack for Bill Harrah 47 years ago, and has traveled the world as a casino executive, educator and regulator. He is sincerely appreciative of the help he received from his friends and colleagues throughout the gaming world in developing this article, understanding that any and all errors are his own.