General Trends in Women's Tournaments at Major Pinball Events


#23

As a woman that strives to perform at a high level of competition, I have purposely chosen not to participate in the Women’s Divisions at Pinvasion and PPO because I wanted to keep my focus on qualifying for the Main and Classics divisions. It’s hard enough to qualify in two divisions - it’s pushing it to qualify in three, especially if Women’s finals take place during Main division qualifying. (A difficult trade-off.)

Nevertheless, the prize pools are growing so large (see INDISC), that they are becoming harder and harder to resist. If playing in the Women’s Division will pay for my trip, I have to give it some serious consideration.

So, like @MCS, I have a concern that women will take the shorter lines and bigger prize pools and effectively segregate themselves from high-level competition.

That said, the shorter lines and bigger prize pools are energizing the female base. It’s undeniable. I can’t think of a time when women have been so fired up to play, compete, and win big cash prizes.

I think it’s important to support this, grow our numbers, and once we see a more even number of both genders competing - then we can consider steps to desegregate if it’s a huge issue. But, at this particular juncture, I think the focus needs to be on increasing visibility and encouraging participation.

I think having separate women’s banks is highly effective on this front (even if it’s vexing on a personal time management level).


#24

Nevertheless, the prize pools are growing so large (see INDISC), that they are becoming harder and harder to resist. If playing in the Women’s Division will pay for my trip, I have to give it some serious consideration.
So, like @MCS, I have a concern that women will take the shorter lines and bigger prize pools and effectively segregate themselves from high-level competition.
That said, the shorter lines and bigger prize pools are energizing the female base. It’s undeniable. I can’t think of a time when women have been so fired up to play, compete, and win big cash prizes.
I think it’s important to support this, grow our numbers, and once we see a more even number of both genders competing - then we can consider steps to desegregate if it’s a huge issue. But, at this particular juncture, I think the focus needs to be on increasing visibility and encouraging participation.

This is it folks, the most nuanced and objectively best take on the subject. Best post on Tiltforums 2018!


#25

I know you’re right, @lazmama. I just resent having yet another barrier to competing at a high-level. I already need to take time off work, spend hundreds of dollars, travel hundreds of miles, and now I need to divide my time even more, too? Guess I just need to play better. :wink:


#26

At INDISC, we want to go with whatever format will get more women to join in the fun. Clearly our adding Women’s did boost participation and maybe helped advance this discussion. Like everything else, it’s not one size fits all. Feedback like this helps us know where to “drive the bus.”

I’m also reminded of my take on Seniors at PAPA: I usually skipped it to play Classics, but was glad it was there for some of my contemporaries for whom it was their main focus (at least when it had prize money and plaques ).


#27

Good point, and good intent. Can you share the data?
For INDISC, what was the # of women participants (in total for all tourneys, without double-counting those women that played in multiple events) in 2018 vs 2017 and 2016?
And similarly, what was the total # of participants regardless of gender for 2018 vs '17 and '16?


#28

It’s not a barrier, it’s a choice. Choices are good!


#29

I agree that providing more avenues of entry for women is good, I just don’t like the choices running a parallel but separate Women’s division forces me to make. But I know it’s not about me, it’s about the advancement of women’s participation. The fact that I am a woman is only relevant in that my perspective can add a single data point.

So let’s look at some numbers:

  • Of the women who participated in either Main or Women’s divisions at INDISC this year (49 total), 21 (43%) participated in only Women’s (two in only Main)

  • Of those 21, two had participated in previous Modern tournaments - both in 2016 and 2017 in fact

  • Number of participants in Modern/Main over time:
    2016 - 128;
    2017 - 102;
    2018 - 189

  • Of the 28 women who participated in Main in 2018, 9 (32%) had fewer than 4 games (7 counted to qualify). To compare: 2016 - 1 of 21 (5%); 2017 - 1 of 10 (10%) had the same.

  • Average finish of women in Modern/Main over time:
    2016 - 32.4 percentile;
    2017 - 33.4 percentile;
    2018 - 22.2 percentile (a drop of 10+ percentile points)

Possible inferences:

  • Having a separate Women’s division may lead to greater overall participation of women
  • However, it also appears to lead to decreased overall performance by women
  • Increased drop-out rate supports self-segregation theory

Notes:

  • The data is taken from the neverdrains.com results
  • I only looked at the Modern/Main tournament and not Classics
  • I made some assumptions about gender based on names for those who didn’t participate in the 2018 Women’s division (although I did try to validate against the IFPA player profile where it seemed ambiguous)
  • Take all of this with a grain of salt because it’s a pretty small sample size and I’ve highlighted what supports my perspective

If you want to see what I used to come up with the above stats, here is a link to my spreadsheet:


#30

Great data to analyze! Thanks for compiling.
I would revise your first inference that having a separate Women’s division (as @BMU noted) did indeed lead to a greater overall participation of women: an increase of 133% growth vs the 2016, and nearly 400% growth vs last year. That’s remarkable.
2018: 49
2017: 10
2016: 21

Of course, we need to keep it in perspective to the overall participation in INDISC that grew by 85% in 2018 vs 2017, but a 400% women’s participation growth vs an overall participation growth of 85% is fantastic.

Using the average of '16 & '17 compared to '18 also shows a dramatic growth in women participation vs the overall participation:
Overall growth: ~ 65%
Women’s growth: >200%

The growth in women participants in the open Main event compared to overall participation growth doesn’t have quite as big a gap, but it still shows greater women participation growth, in my opinion:
vs avg. of '16-17: 80%
vs '17: 180%
vs '16: 33%

The 10 percentile point drop of women’s finishing position is remarkable – perhaps partially explained by a theory that many of the new women Main participants represent players that are newer to competitive pinball? But I agree with your inference that a contributor to the decrease was Main women now splitting their time & entries between the Main and the Women’s event.

And excellent point on the grain of salt due to small sample size (three years). But great analysis for contributing to the discussion!


#31

I had qualified the inference because I hadn’t looked at the Classics data and had a suspicion that there were women who might have participated in previous years, but only in Classics. Turns out that’s not as big a factor as I thought it would be. (In fact over both years there was only one.)

2016 2017 2018
# of F participants overall 21 11 49
# of total participants overall 134 106 221
F % participation overall 15.67% 10.38% 22.17%

So there was a definite increase in women’s participation, not just in absolute numbers, but also as a proportion of overall participation.


#32

After a conversation with @MCS, I decided to run some numbers as well! As we head into the 10th Annual Portland Pinbrawl, I looked back at the last 9 years to gauge our female representation. For reference, Pinbrawl is a 128-person double elimination tournament; there’s no women’s division and no “top female” prize, and it’s not attached to any show or event. Here’s what I found:

2009: 12% (15/121)
2010: 13% (16/128)
2011: 13% (13/97)
2012: 12% (12/99)
2013: 15% (16/106)
2014: 17% (19/113)
2015: 16% (20/125)
2016: 19% (24/126)
2017: 20% (26/128)

I have no commentary to add other than I hope we continue our upward trend!


#33

What year did the Portland Belles and Chimes start? Does the increase in women’s participation around 2013 coincide with the beginning of a local woman’s league?


#34

Belles PDX started in Fall 2015, and Pinbrawl has donated two free entries to them each of the past two years, which is a strategy I’d encourage other events looking to increase female participation to consider. The first chapter of Belles started in the Bay Area in 2013 (right, @echa?), so the increase may reflect the shift in larger regional dynamics.