Much to do on gender balance in software dev

(Source: Stockfresh)

18 March 2016

Paul HearnsWe all know that there is quite a gender imbalance in ICT in general, but when it comes to developers, the imbalance is more of a vertical wall.

According to a survey of its more than 50,000 contributors, the Stack Overflow developer community has shown that while the number of female developers is growing, the proportions stand at less than one in 10 females.

The survey found that 93% were male, almost 6% were female, with the rest as other or preferred not to disclose.

That is a staggering proportion and one that needs addressing. What is even less comforting is the breakdown of developer disciplines for females. The largest proportion at just 12% are designers, with the same as quality assurance. 11% are front end web developers, with only 5% describing themselves as full stack web developers, compared to 29% of males.

“93% of developers are male, almost 6% were female, with the rest as other or preferred not to disclose”

Age provided few surprises as the average age of developers was just 27 generally. Experience on average was 6.5 years, but when comparing male and female, in almost all age ranges, women had less experience.

Most developers described themselves as self-taught (69%), with just a third saying they had a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Only one in five have a masters in computer science.

While we were never in any doubt as to the gender imbalance in tech, this is a staggering proportion. Metrics such as these demand that professional associations and academia need to examine the particular barriers to women taking up developer roles, gaining developer skills and progressing through the ranks.

As most developers describe themselves as self-taught and a large proportion say they learned on the job, a lack of academic qualifications does not seem to be a bar. Therefore, there must be other impediments as there certainly do not seem to be any lack of developer positons for people to take up.

A concerted effort in education to make young women aware of the potential for a rewarding career with lifelong learning possibilities is required. Perhaps even some efforts for positive discrimination might be necessary to get a critical mass of women developers in the industry that can then act as a draw and a reference to subsequent generations.



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