More Women Pursuing Computer Science Before Becoming Developers

Women are more likely than ever to study computer science before moving into a career as a developer, according to new data from HackerRank.

HackerRank surveyed some 14,000 professional developers, including 2,000 women, and concluded—in the words of its report—that “the gender gap for when developers learn to code is slowly, but surely, shrinking.” A big part of narrowing that gap is improving the educational pipeline that prepares young women for a career in tech; and on that front, things seem to be on the upswing.

Of those women surveyed, some 74.5 percent between the ages of 18 and 24 report majoring in computer science, versus 60.9 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34, and 55.9 percent of those over the age of 35. In other words, the youngest cohort saw a 33 percent increase in CS degrees over women born before 1983.

However, only 13.9 percent of women in the youngest cohort reported coding before they were 16 years old, versus 14.4 percent in the 25-to-34 range, and 22 percent of women over the age of 35. That trend also occurs among men. “As a result of the PC Revolution, kids of the 1980s were especially curious to learn how to code at a young age,” HackerRank suggested in its report. “Over time, as technology has been embedded in society, the drive to start coding before the age of 16 has been declining overall.”

Once they begin landing developer jobs, women overwhelmingly tend to work in the technology industry (53.3 percent), followed by finance (10.7 percent), education (5 percent), media (4.7 percent), retail (4.5 percent), and automotive (3.6 percent). Another 18.3 percent also work in an undefined “Other” category.

This kind of data might give hope to tech companies that have made a lot of noise over the past few years about diversifying their employee ranks. It’s clear that more women are interested in computer science as a degree, and development as a career; they just need the opportunities once they’ve gained the knowledge. And gender discrimination remains a major problem.