One of the more interesting aspects of the game of chess is how much men dominate. For every good woman in the game there are usually 20-30 (or even more) good men. At the lower ranks it’s even worse.
This is almost entirely a social problem, where women don’t want to, or simply cannot, get into the game because of social pressures and other problems. Note that in no way do I think that women should ever be incapable of playing as well as any man, but the problem seems to be that girls are pressured by society to want to play with dolls, shop, giggle, and definitely not be engaged by something.
Technology sees exactly the same problem: for every woman in the software engineering field, there are probably 20+ guys. A field with almost no women is not something that’s going to encourage more women to enter.
Unfortunately, it’s a difficult problem to solve. Without more women, women aren’t interested. There are a couple of things that could be done to try and help reduce the problem, but I don’t really have any answer on how to get equal representation by women. Here are some ideas:
- Increase the prizes (both value and number) for women in tournaments. This won’t have an immediate impact, but it will keep the women involved and they may get notice.
- Youth chess is huge, and the ratio of girls to boys is decent. Retention of the girls here should be a priority.
- Continue to de-stigmatize chess in general. Women, more so than men, seem to feel the peer pressure of not wanting to be part of a stigmatized culture
Ultimately, we may never have gender parity, however, a better balance would ultimate help the game. Nothing would please me more than to see women who take an interest in the royal game!