Diversity Among Developers: Still a Work in Progress

Does the professional developer community boast much diversity? The short answer: There’s much work to be done if companies want a developer workforce that’s more balanced when it comes to race and ethnicity. 

That’s the conclusion you could draw from the latest edition of Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey, which queried 38,257 professional developers about their race and ethnicity. Here’s the breakdown of how those developers responded:

“Consistent with the data from last year, we still see evidence that people of color are underrepresented among professional developers,” read the note accompanying the data. “Despite a gradual change year-over-year, there is still much work to do to increase participation rates.”

This isn’t a new revelation, of course. For years, some of tech’s most prominent companies have made a very public effort to diversify their technical ranks, albeit with inconsistent results. Last year, for example, a breakdown from Wired showed that, over a five-year period, the percentages of black and Latinx workers at some firms barely budged, despite efforts to modify HR practices and modify talent pipelines.

“The numbers are particularly stark among technical workers—the coders, engineers, and data scientists who make these companies hum,” the magazine reported. “At Google and Microsoft, the share of U.S. technical employees who are black or Latinx rose by less than a percentage point since 2014. The share of black technical workers at Apple is unchanged at 6 percent, less than half blacks’ 13 percent share of the U.S. population.”

Fortunately, it seems that many of these firms are aware of how much ground they need to make up. Google has called out its own slow progress in its annual diversity reports, for example, despite devoting significant resources to diversifying its workforce. At Uber, where black or African-American technologists only made up 3.6 percent of the tech workforce, the 2019 diversity report was a call for “aiming sky-high” with inclusion and diversity initiatives: “We know from experience that reducing and eliminating inequity is hard to do if all you shoot for is incremental change.”

Race and ethnicity aren’t the only focus of tech’s diversity push. There’s also been a years-long push for gender pay equity, although a recent Dice study suggests that there’s much ground to be made up in this area, as well. Nearly every U.S. state showed a negative pay differential, meaning that women in tech are paid less than men.   

9 Responses to “Diversity Among Developers: Still a Work in Progress”

    • MICHAEL R HOWARD

      I don’t think any older persons like myself will ever know what it is like to be hired… because NOBODY will hire a developer with gray hair (’cause we aren’t one of the cool kids).

      Did it ever occur to Dice, or anybody tracking these numbers that maybe, JUST MAYBE, Blacks or Native Americans aren’t interested in becoming developers? I know a few Blacks that are WAY intelligent, yet could care less about becoming a coder. Just doesn’t interest them.

  1. Kerri-Leigh Grady

    As a woman developer who’s cruising hard towards 50, I can say I’ve worked with exactly two Black developers, a handful from India or Indian-American families, a few Asian developers, and two of all of these have been women. The rest of the devs have been white men, mostly young, but some older. And since my experience cleaves a little closer to actual data, I’m calling out the fragile white boys in these comments.

    Oh, and that “maybe Black people don’t want to be devs” is just like “maybe women just don’t want to be devs” BS. We do, but when we try, our profs crap on us, we’re c*ck blocked from jobs or equitable salaries, and driven out by dudebros and the fragile white guy culture rampant in the industry. I left the industry for a while for that very reason, and coming back has been hard. My age is now playing against me, too, which is lots of fun.

    So all this wangsting in the comments? You’re showing your asses, your white supremacist attitudes, and your stunning lack of logic. Congrats.

    • How many companies have you worked for? I have worked at about 10 places during the last 20 years. 9 in North-East, one in Mid-West. The one in Mid-West was the only one which had any Latinos, Blacks, or a significant quantity of whites. All the others were around 60% Indians, 20% Chinese, and the rest a mix of whites (Mostly from Russia, a few from the Balkans, the rest Americans) and other Asians (Pakistanis, Taiwanese…).

  2. CatMan

    This is funny. I agree that blacks, latino, and women are underrepresented in the developer community, but this chart is for sure incorrect.

    There are only like 3 white male developers in the medium sized tech company where I work , and this has been pretty typical in my experience,
    stack overflow is a English site. In most of the places I’ve worked, Indians and Chinese were the majority.

    I have no doubt Blacks are discriminated against in this (and other) fields. I’m not sure why Latinos are underrepresented, some of the most talented devs I’ve worked with have been South American

    But 70% of developers being white? What a joke