Gender Roles in Chess

We always talk about gender roles in work environments, or even in education, but a lot of times the enormous disparity between just the number of girls that play chess vs. the number of boys. Perhaps this is an activity that interests boys more – that’s definitely possible, but I would like to say otherwise.

When I first started playing chess as part of my elementary school’s chess club in second grade, there was about fifty of us – and about half were girls. So no, the problem is not that girls are not interested in chess. But if you took the roster of players from that chess club and looked at it today, I’m pretty certain that I am the only female, if not only player as a whole, that still plays chess. Even back then, when I participated in the Ohio Unrated K-3 Girls Championships, there was only one other player from my school – what happened to the other twenty-some players?

Even at events like this, I was the only girl

I remember that at so many of the tournaments I would participate in, it would be me and maybe two or three other female players – in a section of around a hundred if not more. Perhaps it was this absence of other female players that drove my peers away. To be honest, it was this lack of other female players that drove me to continue playing chess – I always felt like I had a point to prove against my friends who were male players.

As of right now, there is only one female player in the Top 100 Standard Rated List – Hou Yifan. In fact, she is over a hundred points higher rated than the second top female player. In my opinion, the fact that Hou Yifan is in the top 100 shows us that there is definitely potential for strong female players, the question now is how to expose more young female talent to the game and how to nurture their growth in the field.

So with all of this in mind as well as my phenomenal experiences at the Susan Polgar Girls Invitational, I decided to create the NJ All-Girls Chess Camp in 2014 to at least try to provide more young female players with the opportunity to learn the game (its free to all participants), have the resources to keep playing (everyone gets a free chess set) as well as meet other female players in their area so that they do not feel alone.

Now, a good friend of mine made me realize that part of allowing girls to better nurture their skills is to teach boys to respect the female players more, not simply to isolate the girls apart from the boys. So I’ve taken the first step – I’m bringing the game to the female players – but now it’s your turn: show those around you that you respect female players as much as your male peers. Who knows, one of these bright upstarts may become the next Hou Yifan or better!


To Donate to the NJ All-Girls Chess Camp:

More questions about the camp? Contact me at


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