It has always been part of Ludia’s DNA, to accept people for who they are, with their personalities and skills. And even if for some, this is not a topic for conversation, well to have women working in the video games industry, especially in programming, was not always easy (and still isn’t for some today).
But this was never an issue, nor even a question at Ludia, says Catherine Barbeau, who has been working at Ludia since its creation in 2007 and today in charge of technical back-end projects.
An obvious integration
Catherine has been evolving at Ludia for 12 years now! She saw the company bloom from a small start-up to today’s mature studio. And what remained constant during this incredible evolution is the continuous integration of all types of profiles and an open mindset.
“At Ludia we are generally good when it comes to hiring people who are enjoyable to work with, therefore I was never put in a difficult position for being a woman. I always felt like I had a great support around me, it wasn’t a problem at all. I know there are girls who would have different stories to tell, but for me it has always been very positive. I was able to find my place and evolve with the company.”
After having been in the Jurassic World Alive programming team as co-lead of a dozen programmers, Catherine is now in charge of a team of 5 programmers who provide all the server infrastructure for the games. Being part of teams composed mainly of men (which is still a reality in programming), and being their leader even has always gone very smoothly for her.
A natural recognition
Catherine is aware of how lucky she is that she never had to fight as a woman in her working-environment. However, she admits that she felt a bit anxious when she had to take her first maternity leave. “There were not many women at Ludia’s at that time: a one-year maternity leave was not common. I was really worried about what was going to happen when I came back. Was I going to lose my position? »
None of that happened of course! A place was naturally found for her in the teams. During her second maternity leave, she left much more serene, and she is now glad to see her colleagues go on maternity or paternity leave with much less apprehension than she had felt at the time. As Ludia has evolved over the years, this was integrated in parallel to its culture: no more uncertainty and anxiety.
An encouraged evolution
Now that she has a solid experience, why does Catherine decide to stay in the studio? Naturally, the questioning comes up again and again: do I still have something to give? And do I still have things to learn here?
Every time she asks herself these questions, a new door opens at Ludia. “No company is perfect but in the end, the way Ludia works suits me well. I was always given the opportunity to learn something new here.”
Why there is still a weak number of women in programming
Despite the integration efforts, today’s reality shows a small percentage of women working as programmers. “It’s a pity, it’s a beautiful profession that is both turned towards a fairly advanced technology, and at the same time it remains creative and collaborative in a multidisciplinary environment. It is unfortunate that only a few women are involved in this work environment. Having mixed teams helps to reach a variety of personalities and have more balanced and functional teams”, notes Catherine.
Why are there still only a few women that move into programming?
While giving presentations at high schools, Catherine faced dubious views on a woman’s ability to integrate well into this field. And surprisingly, these views were mostly expressed by the parents!
The question that comes back quite often is: how do you manage work and family time?
Catherine admits that “despite everything and despite men being more and more present to take care of their children, women are still doing more and are still the ones that need to leave early”. What she would like people to know is that at Ludia, we don’t talk about 60h weeks or never-ending crunches. Understandably, it can seem scary to apply at a video games company and think you might not be able to invest yourself as much as the company would like. Which is why women then turn to other sectors. But in our studio, we don’t have that culture, and it’s not necessarily known because the industry has such a strong image that it can be scary from the outside.
So, her answer on this topic is simple and logical: if you have a well-balanced family life, why would it be more difficult for women than for men to be in programming in video games?
Inclusion is an identity, an evidence
At Ludia, inclusion is part of the identity of the studio: people of all ages, genres, nationalities, origins, professions, passions, expertise, personalities, backgrounds, or hair colours!
With that in mind, Catherine kindly reminds us that “there is nothing that forces us to tolerate a work environment in which we do not want to be”. She encourages people to open their horizons and ask themselves if the company in which they are working really aligns with their values and needs.
” There is something special about it at Ludia.We actually take the time to reflect about what it means to be inclusive, rather than just writing it on a company chart somewhere, and that says something about the type of company we are. If there are people who don’t feel like they have this level of inclusion in their current workplace, well “go look elsewhere”, because it exists! And it is by not tolerating these unacceptable behaviours that that we will change things”.