Revisited: “Are We Breaking Gender Rule?”

By Annemieke Drost

Gender and quidditch is always a spicy combination, and this is certainly the case in the livestreaming sphere (as covered previously by yours truly in “Are we breaking gender rule”). Stereotypically, streams are run by male-heavy crews and commentary is mostly done by male commentators too. This could be explained by the difference in confidence between gender umbrellas. On a 10-point scale, women give themselves a 4.2 for confidence in (hypothetical) commentary skills, whereas men give themselves 6.0 and non-binary commentators a 5.1 (source: “Are we breaking gender rule). The question in this project was whether being aware of this confidence gap would improve the gender balance on stream. To do this, first the recruitment strategy by Ruhr Phoenix TV is compared between European Quidditch Cup (EQC) 2018 and EQC 2019. Additionally, the number of games commentated at EQC 2018, World Cup 2018, and EQC 2019 is compared between gender umbrellas. Then, some anecdotal comparisons are made towards off-air jobs.  

Annemieke Drost, a livestreaming legend | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

The biggest thing Ruhr Phoenix TV set out to change to stop breaking gender rule was our recruitment strategy. Before, we recruited rather passively and did not care to explain much to potential volunteers. Already at World Cup, before publishing Are we breaking gender rule”, we started to emphasise on-air gender diversity. One concrete, successful improvement was us clearly stating the possibility to be scheduled with a commentary partner of choice. Two new, female commentators actually made use of this and said they really appreciated it. Furthermore, we continued to emphasise the use of cheat sheets at the stream, which is helpful for all commentators and specifically valued by those less confident (often our women).

After Are we breaking gender rule”, we really got down to business. Our sign up sheets for EQC Division 1 and 2 included explanations for all positions, and most social media posts emphasised that experience is not required. Furthermore, social media pictures were chosen with more care to make sure we break the stereotypical image of two dudes behind a mic. During the scheduling process and the actual tournament, we always made sure to manage the team supportively. This was vocally appreciated by many volunteers. Additionally, the possibility of having a B-stream at EQC Division 1 was helpful, as less confident commentators (again, often women) expressed that they felt less pressure to perform there and were therefore more likely to feel up for the task.

So then the question is, did these actions actually lead to a more balanced stream team? Long story short, yes. As you can see in the sort-of pie charts below, the gender balance has equaled out quite a bit from EQC 2018 to WC 2018 to EQC 2019 Division 1. I am very excited to see that we are going places, even though we are not there yet.

EQC ‘18 QWC ‘18 EQC ‘19 Division 1

One exciting development for the development of new quidditch commentators was having a secondary stream around at EQC Division 1, lovingly referred to as the incubator. The incubator was appreciated by female commentators and featured a beautiful gender balance. Many of the commentators on the incubator stream were new and expressed that they felt comfortable enough to try commentating because they felt like they were working on lower-stakes games.



However, we also have to consider whether the gender balance is merely about sign ups, as we often say, or if our own bias should also be considered. As you can see below, men do get scheduled for more slots on average than women and non-binary commentators. It is really difficult to untangle how much of this could be caused by biased scheduling, and how much would be male commentators being around and politely asking for extra slots more often. Still, this gender discrepancy is something to keep in mind.

Avg # of slots per commentator
EQC ‘18 QWC ‘18 EQC ‘19 EQC ‘19: A EQC ‘19: B
F 2 1.8 4.25 3.6 2.67
M 3.88 2 5.57 5.25 2.67
NB 1 3 3 2

Lastly, I have not mentioned off-air duties so far since the schedule and real life are often not exactly in line and it is hard to check what actually happened if not via listening back to everyone’s beautiful voices. Overall, off-air also used to be a big pile of dudes behind fancy machines. However, nowadays we have some more diversity. At both EQC Division 1 and 2, some of our main stream handlers were female volunteers. Additionally, our camera crew is also less monotonous compared to a year ago. I do not have any data to back this up, but it does seem like us taking more time to explain the tech has improved the gender balance among people who handle this tech.

All in all, we have tried to be more inclusive in our stream volunteer recruitment and scheduling and tl;dr it worked. Now let’s hope this diversity continues at the European Games in Bamberg this summer.