Introducing, Saira Mueller, Founder of Women of Esports and newly appointed Gen.G’s Director of Content. WoE aims to empower women in the esports through a global community & mentorship program and brings awareness to the various challenges women face in the industry.
Saira will be joining us for ESI New York on April 23rd, moderating our panel for “From ‘basement dwellers’ to global superstars: the ever-changing perception and responsibilities of top esports players” alongside Barry Lee, Agent at Evolved Talent Agency, Kashan Khan, professional Smash player for Team Liquid, Scott Smith, Esports Veteran, and Chaos Esports Club CEO, Greg Laird.
You can find out more about ESI New York and secure your ticket here. Ahead of her appearance Saira opens up about her recent career moves, the origin of Women of Esports and how she feels about moderating the opening panel at ESI New York.
Esports Insider: You will be moderating the opening panel at #ESINYC, how do you feel about taking part in such an event?
Saira Mueller: I’m really excited about this panel. It’s somewhat funny that I agreed to moderate it while still at Dot, and now I’m on the team side of the industry I’ll be able to guide the conversation in a completely different way, because I’ll have a lot more knowledge of the player side of things and the requirements that are put on them from a sponsor and brand perspective. I also can’t wait to catch up with my industry friends that will also be speaking at Esports Insider. These events are what bring us all together and give us the opportunity to catch up, so I’m always thankful that I get to be a part of them.
“These events are what bring us all together and give us the opportunity to catch up.”
ESI: Last year you founded Women of Esports, can you talk us through your idea and the process you went through to bring it to life?
SM: Women of Esports is essentially a space for women in the industry or those who are looking to get into the industry and have a clear plan to do so, to connect with each other and give their support.
I’d been thinking about creating a space along those lines for over a year when the Me Too movement started and was talking to a friend in the industry about my plans in September last year. He told me I should just do it, and I was like, ‘Ok sure why not, I might as well do it right now.’ That’s when I tweeted out that I was starting the Discord and that if any ladies wanted to join they just had to hit me up. I didn’t expect the response that I had at all. In the end, I ended up fielding hundreds of messages just in my Twitter DMs over the course of two days, making sure that the women worked in the industry or were actively pursuing a career in esports. It’s since grown so much, and we now have around 500 members in the Discord.
Women of Esports has grown so quickly in such a short space of time, what are your long term goals for the program?
Saira: I have so many! Firstly, we want to make sure the second iteration of the Mentorship Program is really solid, and that will depend on the feedback we get from everyone in the first round. I also really want to start a summer internship program where we place maybe five women with various esports organisations in LA for the summer and put them up in a house together so they can lean on each other for support and build up those lasting friendships that will help them throughout their careers. I’d also love to do a proper study of women in the esports industry, so we have accurate numbers to quote publicly, and then we can use this to track trends over time and see whether the community is helping to bridge the gap in equality. There are a few other things that I can’t mention yet as well.
“I’d been thinking about creating a space along those lines for over a year when the Me Too movement started.”
ESI: What has been the response from the esports community? Is there anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?
SM: The response from the esports community has been mostly very positive. Of course, you’re going to have the few online trolls that ask why there isn’t a “Men of Esports” group and that it’s sexist to have a space just for women to connect like this. Our answer is always: “Why don’t you start one yourself, no one is stopping you!” But there are so many amazing people that work in the esports industry that have signed up to be mentors in the Mentorship Program, so I think that alone shows that we’ve got a lot of support. In terms of people that have helped us, there are so many I can’t even name them all. But the organisation wouldn’t be where it is today without our volunteer staff members, Kierstin, Rebecca, Amanda, and Sarah. They have really taken a lot off my plate and helped shape what the community is today.
SM: My new role as Director of Content means that I’ll be overseeing all the content we produce for Gen.G’s teams. So this means social media posts, written content, video content, and helping the organisation decide what our overall brand and marketing play is going to be in the U.S. While I loved the direct team I was working with at Dot, I’d been in a management and editing position there for over three years, and it felt a bit like I was stagnating—I didn’t have room to grow.
With Gen.G, I have the opportunity to learn new things and test my journalism skills to create amazing content for our seven teams. Also, Gen.G has been putting together an epic team on the business side. It literally feels like the Avengers assembling. You can expect some amazing things from us over the next few years.
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