I was in a record shop at the weekend, playing the new Star Wars release and some car chase titles on the stand alone consoles (btw - we came home with the excellent LEGO Star Wars game). There was me, my son and about five tween/teenage girls playing.
It's a sad indictment of the way things are that I'm disproportionately cheered up by the site of a gang of girls taking over the DS demo, or a group of women on the train discussing the relative merits of their digital cameras. It's becoming more common - but not quickly enough, and nor is gender and technology being paid enough serious, sustained and well funded attention and resources.
Today the Guardian posted a story about the University of Derby's BSc (hons) Microsoft-backed computer games programming course, which attracted 106 applications, all from male applicants. There are some pretty pitiful stats in the article about the current state of play in the gaming industry (although whether this is the UK or the world industry isn't clear - I haven't got high hopes that either of these is substantially better than the other): Women make up a pathetic 2% of the technical and software development workforce.
The University are going to hold some taster days to try and address the problem. Good for them. But it's a national issue that needs to be addressed nationally, as well as consistently, starting with 5 year old kids. And we also need to address this constant type-casting of girls and women as interested in fundamentally different genres of games than boys. The insistence that women only like nurturing, co-operative non-violent titles is an old chestnut that turns up again and again in these kind of articles and is probably more about reinforcing gender stereotypes than who actually plays what and when and why.