As we celebrate International Women's Day, we are keen to recognize the contributions of women in iGaming. Despite being a predominantly male-dominated industry, women have made significant strides and continue to break barriers and excel in their respective roles.
Soft2Bet is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the industry. To mark this occasion, we organised a roundtable discussion between two key female figures, Eda Acar, the company’s Director of Acquisition and Mary Ivanova, the Affiliates Director at Soft2Bet.
This conversation highlights the importance of female empowerment in the workplace, as well as emphasising how the inclusion of women’s points-of-view is truly vital and beneficial to one’s business.
1. How and when did you get started in iGaming, and what were some of the challenges you faced as a woman in the industry?
Mary Ivanova: I started my affiliate journey 6 years ago as an Affiliate Manager. I consider myself very lucky to work in the affiliate sector because nowadays, it’s an environment where people are generally treated equally, regardless of their gender. If an affiliate manager is results-oriented, adaptable and on-hand to help customers, then that should be enough to succeed.
However, this is not always the case for women. I have observed far too many instances where women are not taken seriously as decision makers, particularly in those that are in senior positions. Unfortunately, some people find it difficult to believe that women are just as capable of overseeing large budgets, taking full responsibility for an affiliate-operator relationship, and managing their own team as men. But thankfully, this situation is slowly changing for the better.
Eda Acar: In 2016, I started working in iGaming as a Programmatic Manager. I was part of male dominated team and unfortunately, there were instances where I felt undermined, ignored or even mocked by some team members when I expressed my ideas. This led to a great deal of frustration and it made me second guess myself at times. But this experience taught me an important lesson - when you really truly believe in an idea, believe in yourself and do not back down.
2. What are the most important skills and qualities for women looking to succeed in iGaming?
Mary Ivanova: In order for women to succeed in iGaming, it is important for them to possess a combination of technical and soft skills. Technical skills are essential for completing tasks and achieving goals, while soft skills are necessary for collaborating with others and adapting to changes.
Additionally, women who possess creativity, leadership, perseverance, attention to detail, and customer focus are highly valued in the iGaming industry. Effective communication and teamwork are also crucial for success in iGaming, as is the ability to adapt to new technologies and trends in the field.
Eda Acar: Every kind of skill has a place in iGaming. It is crucial that women stand firm on their decisions, and avoid second guessing themselves and their ideas (similarly to men). They need to trust their gut and their intuition. When questions arise, do the research and continue learning. Whenever issues arise, do not be afraid to ask for help because noone knows everything and everyone needs support from time to time.
3. What would you say are the biggest benefits for the company to have women in leadership positions?
Mary Ivanova: When looking at the world of iGaming, it is not hard to find accomplished, strong and talented women who are extremely hard working and work well, particularly under pressure. From C-suite executives to entry-level graduates, our industry is increasingly led by women. This is truly fantastic for everyone - both male and female. This is because, when women are given opportunities, this benefits everyone, irrespective of their gender.
The diversity of perspectives is a key element that both men and women bring to the table and when companies channel many diverse points-of-views the overall output will improve drastically.
Eda Acar: Gender should not play a direct role when it comes to leadership. What makes a good leader is the person’s ability to set clear and achievable goals, while also supporting and directing their team accordingly. In many cases, it is true that women leaders can bring more emotional intelligence to the workspace, which enables them to manage conflict well, while helping their team grow.
4. What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in iGaming?
Mary Ivanova: To any young women considering a career in iGaming, be it in iGaming or any other sector in the industry - just go for it! Work hard, do not be afraid to express your opinions and never shy away from showcasing your achievements.
Female colleagues and female CEOs in iGaming are a fantastic source of inspiration for newcomers to aspire to grow and succeed. In fact, the number of talented, dedicated and highly successful women working in the gaming sector makes one optimistic for the future of women in our industry.
Treat people with respect, keep learning and never give up on your objectives and ambitions. iGaming gives everyone the opportunity to learn from all the different departments, as well as lots of internal growth and success.
Eda Acar: I’ve really enjoyed being part of iGaming and still do, it’s been 7 years and counting. I would tell young female professionals to be prepared to multitask, to work hard and to learn a lot. iGaming is the only business which allows one to learn from many different departments and teaches many types of skills that you can grow internally, no matter how big or small the company is and if you want to grow you will succeed.
5. In your experience, how has the iGaming industry evolved in terms of gender diversity and inclusion over the past few years? What progress has been made, and what work still needs to be done?
Mary Ivanova: Every member of the team brings a unique skillset to the table. Nowadays, it should continue to be a top priority that both genders should get the opportunity to showcase their skills and technical expertise.
It is also crucial that gender does not factor into one’s customer acquisition strategy, either. There is no such thing as a promotional campaign geared towards women because if the product you are advertising is of sufficient quality, then both male and female customers will come.
The truth is that the majority of those who gamble regularly are male. However this is also changing rapidly, and will continue to do so in the months and years to come. I predict that it won’t be long before our sector’s customer base is composed of women and men in equal measure.
Eda Acar: 7 years ago, when I entered iGaming it was very gender diverse, however, it was rare to see women in leadership positions. Nowadays, I see this has improved greatly and I have colleagues in leadership positions, which makes me proud. These women achieved these positions not because the company wanted more gender diversity, but because these women worked hard to get where they are at.
It is important for us to be grateful for the women in history who paved the way for all the young women out there and for the businesses who have the awareness and knowledge to create such an environment for women to grow.