Inspiring Local Female High Schoolers to Pursue Careers in Technology with Electronic Arts

Challenge

Global interactive entertainment leader Electronic Arts (EA) believes in creating games and experiences for its player community that reflect our diverse world. Inclusion is a central pillar of the company’s outreach platform and EA studios across the world are committed to supporting gender equality.

In 2017, the EA Tiburon studio in Maitland tapped Curley & Pynn to boost its local diversity and inclusion efforts, with a focus on increasing the number of women in technical roles and enhance its reputation as an ideal workplace for women in technology.

With several programs already underway to reach primary school and college students, we worked with the client to identify opportunities for EA Tiburon to reach high school students. The client zeroed in on students with coding experience, citing the studio’s need to foster next-generation, highly skilled female software engineers. This was emphasized by third-party data, which suggested the shortage of women in technology stems partly from a shortage of women pursuing related college degrees.

The Strategic Firm® Approach

We conducted extensive research to understand the high school computer science curriculum in surrounding school districts, including interviews with subject-matter experts and local students. As well, we identified key factors that influence a students’ decision to pursue their chosen degree program in college. Understandably, real-world experience and role models weigh heavily on this decision.

Knowing this, we planned to host an in-person event – “Get in the Game” – where students would receive hands-on training and mentorship from the Women’s Ultimate Team Employee Resource Group – one of the EA Tiburon studio’s voluntary, employee-led groups that unite around a common affinity, experience or interest to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.

On our recommendation to incorporate unique elements into the curriculum that would attract potential student and media interest, EA guaranteed an internship interview to every participant and allowed students to bring home the laptops they used to complete project work throughout the week. These elements helped us market the program to secure an inaugural class of 10 students from four local high schools.

The pursuit of meaningful media coverage included distributing an alert strategically driving media to cover the program’s kick-off, where they experienced a studio tour and presentation by an EA executive that showcased key messaging about careers in the video game industry and diversity/inclusion efforts. During the week, we continued pitching targeted outlets to cover the program in person or conduct phone interviews. On the last day, our final push for coverage included a news release distributed with tailored pitches and photos specifically highlighting the participants relevant to each outlet.

Results

“Get in the Game,” the free, weeklong summer program at EA Tiburon, successfully helped 10 female high school students improve their technical skills and develop a clear vision for the next step toward a career in video game development.

In a post-event survey, eight students said they were “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to pursue a career at EA (two were “undecided”). Many agreed it improved their coding skills and all agreed the program “exceeded expectations.” Survey comments included: “This was truly an incredible experience.” “Please keep doing this. LIFE CHANGING.”

Our team exceeded the objective for media coverage, securing stories in 15 traditional and social media outlets with the potential to reach more than 14 million Central Floridians. All stories featured interviews with EA spokespersons or participants, or key messages directly from our news release.

Perhaps the best indication of success was the program’s ability to attract nearly six times as many applicants in its second year through word-of-mouth by peers and teachers.

This award-winning campaign was honored with an FPRA Orlando Image Award of Distinction.

 

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