Developers’ Lack of Diversity Still an Issue

A recent survey by Stack Overflow highlighted an issue that’s occupied the minds of many in the tech community for quite some time: The imbalance in the number of male and female developers currently working.

When Stack Overflow surveyed roughly 26,000 people from 157 countries, some 92.1 percent self-identified as male; another 5.8 percent said they were female, 1.7 percent preferred not to disclose, and 0.5 percent said they were “other.”

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“Software development has a gender balance problem,” read the report accompanying the data. “Our internal stats suggest the imbalance isn’t quite as severe as the survey results would make it seem, but there’s no doubt everyone who codes needs to be more proactive welcoming women into the field.”

Among women who code, some 37.1 percent have been doing so for less than two years, while 30.1 percent have spent two to five years in the field; roughly 15.1 percent have spent six to 10 years, and 9.5 percent more than 11 years. By contrast, some 23.8 percent of men reported coding for 11+ years, while 23 percent said they’d been working in the field for six to 10 years, 31.2 percent said two to five years, and 18.2 percent said less than two years.

While various tech firms have pledged over the past several months to increase the diversity of their respective workforces, a lot of work remains to be done. Last summer, a bit of number-crunching by front-end developer Nick Heer revealed that, out of seven major tech companies (Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo), not one had a workforce that was less than 76 percent male.

“It will come as no surprise that all of these companies are boys’ clubs, particularly tech workers and those in leadership roles,” Heer wrote at the time. “This is one of the biggest issues facing the tech industry right now.”

Among developers, that diversity issue remains a pressing one, despite recent attempts to introduce a broader audience to coding, and it may take a bit of time for the numbers to trend in a more inclusive direction.

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Image: Stack Overflow

4 Responses to “Developers’ Lack of Diversity Still an Issue”

  1. C L Couch

    I teach at a technical school (post-secondary) and literally see the disparity in the classroom. Two or three women in class of a few overall or many. We can seek out and encourage women to apply. But I wonder if recruiters and employers from the companies who hire could leap over us and address middle-schoolers and high-schoolers directly–in math and science classes and at math and science fairs and formalized quiz sessions in a school or between schools. The message to the boys seems to work, relatively speaking, and so should stand. But as a missing constituency and lost potential, could not folk in the industry address girls and young women who might have interest when, and where, comes that nascence? I don’t want to abnegate my responsibility–and I won’t–nor am I asking for new consultations and new program developments. Not as much as I’m wondering simply if speaking to young women directly, while they’re in school, might be effective in a more peer-to-peer way. Looks for groups to talk to; they’re already there. Talk plainly about preparation and the professional life that follows. Follow up with what exists already: e-mail, social media, the phone, another gathering. Coordinate service hours and shadowing experiences, many of which exist as school options and requirements, already. I’ll help. But I think the better word will come from those not only in the know but also in the industry. Conceptually, I doubt I’m promoting anything new here. I’m saying let’s use what we have and who we are to take some time (yes, time, I know) to share what we have and who we are with an otherwise empty talent pool.

  2. This is a non issue, its pretty simple. Women aren’t in tech, because – wait for it… They don’t like this kind of work duh!!!!! Why are we making this something at all? No one is stopping any woman who wants to code. What most may not like is accountablility cha-ching!! Most women have nothing more than paper pusher jobs driven by govt edict. The ones who have got it in them to accomplish something seem to do so w/out any issues. Just stop it with this crap.

    • There are very little barriers getting into software development. The challenge is getting paid for your efforts and doing it as a professional. It’s very difficult for people to get into the field and be paid even if you have a CompSci degree. Where I disagree with Steve on is that I beleivie there is massive discrimination in the IT field and that white men will give other white men the benefit of the doubt for that crucial first job or over look f_ckups of the past. I’ve known white guys who get constantly get fired and are f_ck ups get jobs within weeks. But if a minority gets laid off they might not be able to find a job for months sometimes years.