Most industries still aren’t free of gender biases and the esports sector is no exception. The University of Roehampton in London is on a mission to fill more competitive esports seats with women, and it’ll do so by offering a ‘Women in Esports’ Scholarship from September 2020.
This windfall is a result of the work of Roehampton Esports, which is the university’s esports department. The scholarship programme entails four scholarships to first-year students, worth up to £1,500.
More than the financial edge that students will receive, they will also be entitled to a dedicated mentorship scheme and serve as a nexus between students and senior industry professionals. As a result, students will enjoy numerous opportunities and activities that can fast-track their esports career.
At its crux, the programme will hone the next generation of female esports professionals, while increasing diversity and inclusion in the esports game industry. The scholarship is the first of its kind in Europe.
“We are proud to be engaged and at the forefront of developing talent for an exciting and emerging industry like esports. Diversity and inclusion are values held to the highest regard at the University of Roehampton and the scholarship is another example of how we implement this into the experience of students and the extra-curricular activities available to them,” said Professor Anna Gough-Yates, Provost, University of Roehampton, in a release.
The University of Roehampton has also secured the collaboration of landmark esports organisations to support the programme and to enhance what it has to offer. These specially curated partnerships will thus operate within the framework of the new esports scholarship.
These organisations include Women in Games, the National University Esports League (NUEL), Cat Collective, Special Effect, and London Esports. These organisations bring industry-level training to the table and will also enhance recipients’ scholarship opportunities by offering work placements.
In one such collaboration with Women in Games, Roehampton University will host weekly esports sessions with women-only, along with other networking opportunities that will be created for recipients and other attending women in esports.
Welcoming the collaboration, Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman described the scholarship to be “a very positive move to encourage further diversity and inclusion in esports”.
With the collaboration, Roehampton University will be one of Women in Games’ first Educational Ambassadors.
While there are privileges and educational material that scholars are entitled to, just about any student can be a part of the vibrant esports environment in Roehampton University. Students will all have access to the Roehampton Esports Arena, which is a space in the university’s campus that is dedicated to esports.
Apart from boasting esports gear and computers with games, the space will also feature elements that focus on building sustainable gaming habits.
The days of sports scholarships being reserved only for the athletically gifted and the physically elite have far surpassed our time. Where there is a smaller requirement for physical capabilities, esports players need a conclusively different set of talents, with quick fingers and instantaneous reflexes merely scraping the tip of the iceberg.
That also leaves esports athletes prone to different risks. While a fractured knee might not harm the career of a professional esports player as much, game addiction and nerve health issues like carpal tunnel syndrome are equally potent considerations.
It is part of what will be tackled with the university’s collaboration with esports performance company G-Science. The company will work with the Roehampton University on building a “healthy gaming” programme that focuses on the mental health of students, as well as their physical well-being.
Applications for the London-based university’s ‘Women in Esports’ scholarship have already opened, and only a lucky four students will be able to clinch it. The deadline to apply for the first round of scholarships is on 1st September 2020.