IFPA Profiles Default to Male

Please forgive me if this has been brought up before, but I noticed in my tournament manager statistics it states that for my first tournament there were 18 male competitors and 1 female competitor. The tournament really had 14 men and 4 women. Now I understand that the IFPA profile automatically defaults to male if it goes unclaimed, but for me, that would not be the best default.

As a TD I would be interested in seeing tournament statistics/demographics that were more accurate. I personally would prefer that the default would be “unknown”, and at least then I would know that the male competitors weren’t being over counted at the expense of female competitors. I’m curious if this is something that could be changed, or if there is a reason why it’s best that the default stays as male.

Also, I don’t think it would be a bad idea if TDs entered a new player’s gender when they submit results, assuming that the TD and the player are comfortable with that.


Oh yikes! That is interesting to me. I’m strongly of the opinion that the only person who should get to decide what gender is on their profile is the player. Having TDs do it could lead to assumptions, but I don’t see why gender can’t just be neutral until someone registers their profile and fills out the gender field.

I guess you can extrapolate that if someone played in a women’s only tournament, they would be comfortable being classified as such for women’s rankings purposes, but given that many women’s events explicitly welcome nonbinary people, I really think this should be a choice given only to the players.

Also, defaulting to male just makes the IFPA look even more overwhelmingly male than it already is, so it’s not doing their data any favors.

[Oh, and from a moderator perspective, my stance is that this thread is not going to get derailed with arguments about the concept of gender. We’re staying on the topic of how this relates to pinball.]


I totally agree that we don’t want to make any assumptions. I would only want that done if everyone was cool with it. That said, you are probably right that it’s best to leave it to player only.

Paging @Shep on this one …

+1 to this

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Here is where I become even more unpopular. How about we just do away with the gender all together? Their is no competitive advantage for a male or a female in pinball. This is one of the few sports that has a physical aspect to it for which I really feel doesn’t need the gender separation and actually hurts the fight for equality.

I know the purpose of it is to help provide more visibility to female players and the growth of that gender in the sport but if we truly wish to drive more diversity in our sport (which I think we should) I see more benefit using ethnicity rather than gender as that level of diversity is what is truly missing.


Yep, and it seems to be working out!



If you’re beginning a post with this, you should probably take more time to think it through before clicking on “Reply” – which would also include ensuring you’ve thought it through completely and taken into consideration other past discussions/debates on the topic. In this case, there are a quite a few.
Further, you already counter/answer your own question with one of the purposes, and as @jdelz already mentioned, it’s working.

No need to stir the pot on this – keep the discussion focused to the fairly narrow topic of the thread: seems like a decent idea to have an undefined or neutral option as the default for a profile until the player chooses to denote his/her gender.


Thank you for this, Colin! I had a whole long thing typed out before I realized that I was going to take this thread waaaaaay off topic. This isn’t a thread about whether women’s only events need to exist, it’s about the way the IFPA structures their gender category. Let’s all keep it that way. :slight_smile:

ETA: I will say that based on the current classification system, it looks like not even 3% of competitive pinball players are women, when I’d guess it’s more like 10 - 12%, so the IFPA would likely want to make a change just for the sake of data accuracy.


You know me better than that. I did think it out and was hesitant to post but figured, why should I continue to sensor my opinions.

I started off that way as I know I’m in the minority in how I think on this site.

I’d also argue that I feel it’s not working as well as some think it is, but that’s probably best for a later discussion and maybe even one in person when we see each other next as I don’t want to derail things to much.

I think you are even undervaluing participation even at 10-12%. The last two major tournaments I went to women represented aprox 25% of the field.

When the distinction was added and the Women’s rankings were added a year or two ago it appeared that the system was guessing based on first name, which actually seems worse than defaulting to male. Has this been changed?

I found this when I was looking to see if this topic was brought up before. It looks like that was just done to start the Woman’s rankings.


At the risk of being disrespectful to someone: making a guess based on given name is probably somewhat better than defaulting to male. I’ve never met a male (or someone presenting as male) named “Mary”, “Jane”, or “Lisa”. I’ve also never been asked at any tournament at all if I present as male or female. I can also say that most people I’ve encountered who have assumed genders other than their birth gender also assume names typical of their desired gender. Given those facts, and the strong inertia around getting hundreds or thousands of TD’s to ask that question of all their participants and submit that data, it seems like making an educated guess based on given name isn’t such a bad thing. Affected players can certainly request a change in their status with IFPA if the default is not appropriate, but it’ll probably be correct for the majority. (Speaking just for myself, I would not be offended if someone assumed that a player named “Joe” or “Joseph” was a male, or that a player named “Josephine” or “Josephina” was a female… those are reasonable assumptions, even if not 100% correct.)

Yeah, but names get complicated pretty quick. If I ran a hundred person tournament, I might not remember if Leslie Nielsen was a man. Let’s pretend I’m averse to mistakes: assuming TDs get contact info for new players (is that a thing?) what human being is going to call up and immediately hang up when they hear Frank Drebin say Hello? No, the simplest solution is Leslie finally sorts this out himself when he decides to finally update his ifpa info and get his little picture up there.
Aw shit, Leslie Nielsen RIP.


I never intended that TDs would guess someone’s gender. I figured it would not be bad to ask a player if they wanted their gender included in the results. After think about, that’s hella awkward. I’d just like to see gender be listed as unknown or neutral until someone claims their profile and decides to update their gender. Folks should opt in to giving more personal information.


I brought this up with @pinwizj back in January and was told then that he thought that as part of the rebuild process, the system does look for new players submitted in Women-only events and then updates their profiles to be Female.

@Shep makes reference to using genderize.io in this post: Supressed player

So while it defaults to Male, there is some effort put in to identify Female players as well.

But as has been raised, really the best person to be identifying their gender is the player, which can be done by registering (albeit in a binary manner). I made up a sheet to be displayed at our monthly tournament to explain to players how to register:

Feel free to use it at your own events!


Thanks guys, this would be a good change to make. Can you make a non-binary gender option while you’re in there? (If there isn’t already one, I don’t remember.)

I also think it’s reasonable to assume female for people who come in for the first time via a women’s event score. Even though I know some women’s events are open to non-binary people, they should be at least somewhat comfortable with representing themselves as femme if they entered, and they can always correct it later.


So, my thoughts on this are; the women’s profile is a category of player, and if you don’t opt in, you aren’t assigned to male, you just aren’t opted in to women’s ranking profile. The default tournament submission or player category is “Open”, not male. Just like TDs don’t ask age, they don’t ask gender, and it’s up to the player to opt in to a category if available. And then there are ranking categories, such as Youth rankings, senior rankings, women’s rankings, etc. I think the trick is, how can we communicate how to opt in better, so more women who want to participate, can?

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