International Women's Day 2023: Girls in Esports

Author: Amii Oldham

We were excited to see that the UN’s theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. For Digital Schoolhouse, this theme is one that we believe is an essential focus in preparing all young people for their future careers, regardless of the industry they choose to go into. Unfortunately, there remains a stereotype that digital spaces, particularly in video games, remain a male-dominated space and that girls are less capable, less valued or less interested in entering. We are passionate about finding new opportunities for girls to be inspired by digital careers and the exciting prospects available to them in a rapidly changing world.

One way in which we have seen girls engage in developing new skills is through our annual esports tournaments. Over the past few weeks, the team have been travelling the country, delivering our Super Smash Bros Ultimate Team Battle tournament for schools across the UK as part of our regional qualifier events. Throughout this experience, we have had the pleasure to see some incredible school teams compete, included mixed and all-girls teams, not just as players but in a range of supporting roles, including shoutcasting, event planning, design and journalism.

Girls from St Mary's College and Ballyclare High School compete in Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Girls from St Mary's College and Ballyclare High School compete in Ballymena, Northern Ireland

There have been some consistent themes ways in which the girls have applied themselves to the experience:

  1. The enthusiasm and excitement to take part, with a real sense of camaraderie between the players.
  2. Confidence to take on new roles, regardless of levels of experience or knowledge. We can’t wait to see several girls attend the upcoming semi-finals as shoutcasters.
  3. New friendships made between school groups who have requested to play together again online following the tournament.
  4. A real sense of fun! Regardless of the match outcomes, the girls demonstrated great sportsmanship, finding opportunities to laugh and learn throughout the day.

“The E-sports tournament gave me such a great sense of unity and I found myself enjoying every loss as well as every win. The skills that I learnt and the skills that the opposing teams demonstrated will definitely stick with me for as long as I play. The people we competed against were also so kind and showed us amazing sportsmanship - I'd love to play with them again!” 

Sophie, competitor from Millais School

In addition to this, the encouragement of their teachers, praise of their peers and genuine openness to compete in friendly matches from their male counterparts shows that the inclusion of girls in video games is something that not only demonstrates the outdated stereotypes but shows that girls want and deserve to have access to digital spaces, skills and careers.

The team from Brentford School for Girls in Sutton, including our top shoutcaster of the day, Evelyn (left).
The team from Brentford School for Girls in Sutton, including our top shoutcaster of the day, Evelyn (left).

“Evelyn expressed real excitement of winning the shoutcaster completion – she was contemplating on a new skill she has found and wanted to develop it further. Other girls expressed so much excitement from being in a tournament, especially the Year 7 girls, who thought they developed so much knowledge and competitive skills just from that day, expressing that they are still young and by the time they reach year 11, they will have advanced so much further.” 

Nasser Masri, Digital Schoolhouse Lead Teacher, Brentford School for Girls

If you would like to watch recordings of the regional matches, you can do so via our dedicated Twitch channel.

If you would like to involve your school or college in next year's tournament, applications to become a Digital Schoolhouse are currently open