One fun part about blogging is that you don't need to be an expert in everything, you don't need to know all the answers, and sometimes you can throw out an opinion or questions and see what reaction you get. This is one of those posts.
I play Steven Feuerstein's PL/SQL Challenge pretty much every day. I see it as a fun way to keep my knowledge base exercised. I also follow theappslab which has covered gamification for a while, and I recognize the Challenge as applying gamification to learning, with its leaderboard and achievements (for both ranking and participation), plus prizes at the end of the Quarterly Quest.
Then I turn around and see that "Female IT Staff Are Still Getting Paid Less Then Males", also reported here.I think salary is too simplistic a measure. I had lunch with one Java programmer a couple of weeks back andwe did discuss general pay and conditions between her (public sector) job and my one as a consultant. I may get paid more, but I have a longer working week and less control about where I'm working (plus I've been in the business a bit longer - though there's a point where years don't usefully equate to experience).
I follow @datachick who often tweets about Women in technology (and NASA and barbie and a whole bunch of stuff). And I look around a lot of the places I work and see more blokes than women. I do think we, as an industry, need to do something to encourage more equal participation.
I wonder whether gamification offers any opportunities for that encouragement, or whether it may actually make things worse. I've dug around a bit but haven't really found much useful data on gender bias here. Nick Yee has looked at EverQuest and found that female players were more interested in the social aspects rather than goal-focussed. The vast majority of players are men which may indicate that the population was weighted towards a particular type of personality more common amongst men, but perhaps the same applies to the technology field.
I don't want to pick on the PL/SQL Challenge. I enjoy it. I also like the elements of gaming in StackOverflow with its achievements and "powers" as points levels are gained. But I'd like some insight into how these might shape a male-dominated profession. You can pretty much guarantee that when an employer or a recruiter looks through CVs, they will be checking that person on Google and LinkedIn. Advertiser funded sites will use gamification to favour frequent participants.