First things first - this is not a rant. I have many rants, and this is not one of them ;)
When I was dating my wife, she was very supportive of my efforts to get back into roleplaying. She didn't understand it, but giving me every other Saturday night to do something that was important to me was important to her.
Flash forward a little bit, and she was brave enough to let me run her through a Tunnels & Trolls adventure. I figured the d6s would make the 1st session just a bit less confusing, and I was right. Still, that was her first and last RPG session until NTRPG Con 2014. Yep, she decided to join me at the Con and wanted to play in some of the games. After all, she listens in to one side of my Roll 20 sessions most every Saturday night ;)
My thought last year was that her first RPG session should be a game very few would have a handle on, so I chose Time Master run by none other than +Tim Snider . Tim did what you should do with most game sessions, but especially those with new players and / or those unfamiliar with the system - put the game mechanics in the background and have the players describe what their characters are actually doing.
It went so well Rach wanted me to dig the original rules out of storage and by the next night she was telling me we were returning in 2015 (we did.)
This year, in addition to playing DCC, SWN and Victorious for the first time (as well as some LL) Rach got to play in Merle Rausmussen's All Girls Top Secret session. Now, this is pretty much the opposite of what I generally hear about when it comes to "empowering women in gaming", as the assumption is usually that the woman needs to run the game in order to be empowered. Not according to my wife. She had more fun in Merle's game than any of the others (and she loved them all), possibly because it was her first session without me as a crutch. It was also the rare event with three women at the table (although we did have two women at our table - including Rach - three times this year.)
Let's be honest. More women are brought into gaming by the men in their life than the other way around. The secret to empowering women in gaming isn't to exclude men from sitting behind the GM's screen but giving women an opportunity to play without their crutch - the man that brought them into gaming. It's scary to remove the training wheels but so rewarding when you realize you are riding on your own.
Of course, the next step for Rach WILL be to find a session run by a woman, because she wants to see if there is any difference in the experience. I don't think Rach will be running a session anytime soon, as she doesn't have the desire to do so, but that's true for many players.
(for those wondering, Rachel was actively involved in the writing of this post. I'm hoping to get a post or two out of her where she writes about her gaming experiences directly - I'll twist her arm a bit this summer ;)