NED of Entain Virginia McDowell about women in gaming, imposter syndrome, and mental health issues

Virginia McDowell, a Non-Executive Director at Entain and a Board Member at Global Gaming Women, in a recent Martin Lycka’s podcast talked about the role of women in the gaming industry and challenges they face throughout their careers.

McDowell was named the 2009 Executive of the Year by Casino Journal Magazine’s Gaming. Back then she was the only female president and CEO of a major traded gambling company. However, now her own CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen is symbolically following in her footsteps.

In the podcast, Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show, McDowell discussed diversity, productivity, and if women are now able to earn more important roles in the gaming industry.  

Nowadays there are many studies that talk about companies led by women at the very highest levels being more productive. Having a diversity of thought is critically important in terms of being able to elevate companies, she pointed out. 

McDowell noted that while the gaming industry has improved and become 50% female compared to the past when it was dominated by men, women are still being “tremendously underrepresented” at the management levels: 

“It is still an ‘old man’s club’”, — McDowell points out, — “The goal of Global Gaming Women, the issues that we face as an industry and what I have been trying to solve through Global Gaming Women and other organizations such as All-In Diversity Index, is making sure that women have the opportunity to advance their careers within organizations.”

Global Gaming Women was established by the American Gaming Association (AGA) to create a network for female gaming professionals to learn and share ideas, establish connections, and create future women leaders in the industry.

In 2016, with the support of the AGA, Global Gaming Women was launched as an independent non-profit organization, providing women with educational opportunities so they can advance their careers within their organizations. At the same time, the non-profit also works with organizations to build internal company programs that help to achieve the same goal.

The educational webinars and programs that Global Gaming Women provide are tiered up to its W Program, which is aimed at women who are Vice Presidents, and they teach leadership skills such as public speaking.

The non-profit also helps women boost their confidence and overcome imposter syndrome as they look to take that next step and apply for larger roles within their organizations. 

However, while there are organizations out there doing good work to help women progress their careers, “it’s happening much slower than I would’ve liked, but I do believe that what gets measured gets managed.”

Another important topic the two raised in the podcast was responsible gaming and mental health issues. 

“My personal opinion is we are in a mental health crisis globally. For about a decade we have given people the opportunity not to socialize, not to interact with each other. And now we look at the world that we’ve created online through Facebook, Instagram, and so on. 

“On top of it we have a global pandemic and people are scared, and now there is war in Ukraine and people are even more scared.”

Part of the problem is mental health stigmatization. People do not say that it is brave to ask for help, but say it is weak and then don’t provide it. So if we extend that for example to responsible gaming a lot of people look at this as a stigma.

“Diversity equity and inclusion continue to be the most important issues to me. I do believe that we need to continue to provide opportunities for women and minorities to advance in the gaming industry. 

“I also believe that companies are going to put their best foot forward as it relates to responsible gaming because that is going to be the foundation for what the states decide to do with sports betting and online gaming in the future,” — McDowell concluded. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to our Telegram-channel!