Gender Inequality in eSport Participation

Exploring the Social Process of Women eSport Consumers


  • Se Jin Kim Western New England University
  • Youngsun Sean Kim Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University


gender inequality, eSports, electronic gaming, grounded theory, sexism


Traditionally, males have been thought to have an advantage over females in sports. Even in electronic gaming (eSports), where physical attributes do not confer an advantage, females face limitations in participation. Despite eSports becoming a mainstream entertainment industry, most eSports players tend to be skewed toward males, even though computers, game consoles, and virtual reality technology have been designed to appeal to genders equally. The current research addresses male dominance of the eSports industry and examines strategies to encourage more female participation. Specifically, the essential differences between the genders’ respective social processes in gaming are examined through a constructionist grounded theory analysis. Focusing on the lived experience of women who began playing League of Legends and eventually lost interest at a more competitive level, the findings propose that females go through a three-stage process when engaging in eSports: (i) initiation, (ii) affection, and (iii) denial, eventually leading them to withdraw. The findings suggest that the skill gap between genders is not significant. Further, males dominate eSports, mainly due to initial exposure to games. Accordingly, to bridge the gap of eSport participants between gender, more females need to be exposed to technology earlier in their lives, and female gamers, including star players, must exist. Also, more games that provide options for the taste of female eSport participants need to be provided. Ultimately, to construct an environment to enhance female eSports participation, male eSport participants need to take the lead in eliminating gender stereotypes.


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