An interesting little tidbit showed up last week that seemed not to gain too much attention. SOE announced some new MMOs they have had in the pipeline for a while. One game in particular, Free Realms is going after a more casual market and focusing on attracting women to the game. The challenges of doing so were mentioned in this quote from the above linked article:
“I just can’t explain to a 30-year-old single male why 10-year-old girls like horses,” [John Smedley] said. “We were trying to figure out what pets to put into Free Realms and before, the lead designer was a guy and he definitely wanted things that could fight. And when we got more women on the team, it was like ‘No, no, no. We need puppies and horses in there.’”
In this (likely oversimplified) situation, the problem isn’t that the lead designer was male: rather, it was that the lead designer was not properly doing his job.