WHAT?!?!?!? Women Considered Better Coders – But Only If They Hide Their Gender

What Does Gender Have to Do With Coding? When a group of computer science students decided to study the way that gender bias plays out in software development communities, they assumed that coders would be prejudiced against code written by women. After all, women make up a very small percentage of software developers – 11.2% according to one 2013 survey – and the presence of sexism in all corners of the overwhelmingly male tech industry has been well documented.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding! So the student researchers were surprised when their hypothesis proved false – code written by women was in fact more likely to be approved by their peers than code written by men. But that wasn’t the end of the story: this only proved true as long as their peers didn’t realise the code had been written by a woman.

“Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless,” the study’s authors write. The researchers, who published their findings earlier this week looked at the behavior of software developers on GitHub, one of the largest open-source software communities in the world.

What Were The Results of the Study? Based in San Francisco, GitHub is a giant repository of code used by over 12 million people. Software developers on GitHub can collaborate on projects, scrutinise each other’s work, and suggest improvements or solutions to problems. When a developer writes code for someone else’s project, it’s called a “pull request”. The owner of the code can then decide whether or not to accept to proffered code.

  • Researchers found that code written by women was approved at a higher rate (78.6%) than code written by men (74.6%)
  • The researchers looked at approximately 3m pull requests submitted on GitHub, and found that code written by women was approved at a higher rate (78.6%) than code written by men (74.6%).
  • Looking for an explanation for this disparity, the researchers examined several different factors, such as whether women were making smaller changes to code (they were not) or whether women were outperforming men in only certain kinds of code (they were not).
  • “Women’s acceptance rates dominate over men’s for every programming language in the top 10, to various degrees,” the researchers found.
  • The researchers then queried whether women were benefiting from reverse bias – the desire of developers to promote the work of women in a field where they are such a small minority. To answer this, the authors differentiated between women whose profiles made it clear that they were female, and women developers whose profiles were gender neutral.
  • It was here that they made the disturbing discovery: women’s work was more likely to be accepted than men’s, unless “their gender is identifiable”, in which case the acceptance rate was worse than men’s.

What Do Female Coders Think About the Study? Lorna Jane Mitchell, a software developer whose work is almost entirely based on GitHub, said that it was impossible to tell whether a pull request was ignored out of bias, or just because a project owner was busy or knew another developer personally. Her profile on GitHub clearly identifies her as female, something she won’t be changing based on the results of this study.

“I have considered how wise it is to have a gender-obvious profile and to me, being identifiably female is really important,” Mitchell said by email. “I want people to realise that the minorities do exist. And for the minorities themselves: to be able to see that they aren’t the only ones … it can certainly feel that way some days.”

Another developer, Isabel Drost-Fromm, whose profile picture on GitHub is a female cartoon character, said that she’s never experienced bias while working GitHub, but that she normally uses the site to work on projects with a team that already knows her and her work.

Jenny Bryan, a professor of statistics at the University of British Columbia, uses GitHub as a teacher and developer in R, a programming language. Her profile makes clear that she is a woman, and she doesn’t believe that she’s been discriminated against due to her gender.

“At the very most, men who don’t know me sometimes explain things to me that I likely understand better than they do,” she writes. “The men I interact with in the R community on GitHub know me and, if my genderhas any effect at all, I feel they go out of their way to support my efforts to learn and make more contributions.”

Bryan was more concerned with the paucity of women using GitHub than she was with the study’s results. “Where are the women?” she asks. One possibility she raises is the very openness of the open source community.

“In open source, no one is getting paid to manage the community,” she writes. “Thus often no one is thinking about how well the community is (or is not) functioning.”

That’s a pressing question for GitHub itself, which has faced serious charges of internal sexism which led to the resignation of co-founder and CEO Tom Preston-Werner in 2014. GitHub did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the study.

In 2013, GitHub installed a rug in its headquarters that read, “United Meritocracy of GitHub.” The rug was removed in 2014 after criticism from feminist commentators that, although meritocracy is a virtue that it is hard to disagree with in principle, it doesn’t do much for diversity in the workplace. CEO Chris Wanstrath tweeting, “We thought ‘meritocracy’ was a neat way to think of open source but now we see the problems with it. Words matter. We’re getting a new rug.”

As the researchers of the pull request study wrote, “The frequent refrain that open source is a pure meritocracy must be reexamined.”

My POV: As one of the few females in the technology, analyst, software, digital transformation world, you would think that women would be highly sought after. It not for all the obvious reasons that help companies check off their requirements to support a gender neutral workplace, but also because women bring something very special to the workplace. An honest desire to do great work in collaboration with others.

I hope more companies who are saying they want to support women in technology, software, medicine and other typically male-dominated fields put their money where their mouth is and hire us. We are are ready and willing and capable of going the distance. I know when I was in graduate school, I was the only blonde female in my Ph. D. program. What does that say?

@DrNatalie, Ph. D. In Engineering, UCLA and VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

 

Share

Dr Natalie Petouhoff – List of Publications, Books, Research, White Papers, ebooks,

Publications, Books, Articles and Research Of Dr. Natalie Petouhoff. I was recently asked to create a list of all the things I’ve written… I not sure I have them all… but here’s a list of white papers, chapter in books, books I’ve authored, books I have ghost written, etc…  over the last ten years or more… Hope you find something that gives you some braincandy or a new way to approach your business.

@drnatalie

2013

 

2012

 

2011

2010

2009-2001

Share

Keynote Speaker 9/19/13: “Social Media and Big Data: A Match Made in Heaven?” Register Now!

Join the NYC Tri-State TDWI Chapter on September 19th to find out.  Register here.

tdwi

As social media has moved from marginal to mainstream, what are the behind-the-scenes implications, prerequisites and constraints imposed by this new social media world order? What are the opportunities and challenges for data warehousing, IT and business innovation? How do they – or do they – all need to change to accommodate new market circumstances?

Our keynote speaker for September 19th, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, renowned author, lecturer, teacher and social media evangelist, will explore the business impact of social media from a holistic approach. New and emerging data streams are both a stress and an opportunity for the IT department: a stress, in having to meet the challenge of understanding the market and adapting with new tools, systems, procedures and integration requirements. But also an indisputable opportunity for the IT, data collection and warehousing departments to raise their profile. They are now empowered to deliver new insights, answering questions that were ignored previously and working in partnership with sales and marketing as never before.

In this forum, we will address the following questions:

  • How can back office operations, IT and data collection work more effectively with the front office to achieve business objectives?
  • How do you effectively integrate social media with the back office?
  • How do increasing needs for speed of information processing and connectivity on the back end relate to engagement and branding on the front end?
  • What are the metrics and KPIs that matter?
  • Call centers: are they a new research tool?  What is their role in providing business insights?
  • On what new analytical methods do we need to focus for best practices?
  • To what extent has social media influenced social or collaborative business?

Keynote Speaker Bio:

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, CEO, Social Business Builders: The Results Group, Ph.D., Engineering, Social Media Measurement and ROI Best Practices Expert, former Forrester Analyst, Adjunct Professor at the Anderson School at UCLA, is also a noted author, speaker and management consultant.

Dr. Natalie has management consulting as well as organizational change management experience. As a Forrester Analyst, she wrote the world’s first social media ROI model for PR, marketing and customer service. She’s guided CRM, Customer Service, Marketing, PR and Social Media professionals and C-level executives to develop customer-facing business strategies that drive revenue and increase margins.

REGISTRATION

The seminar is open to all business, analytics and information technology managers, with an interest in Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, Analytics and Healthcare.  There is no fee to attend our program, although pre-registration is required.  Visit the <<TDWI Chapter Registration Link >> or the <<NYC Tri-State Area Chapter>> page to register.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND:

  • Information Technology Managers, Business Analysts and Data Professionals interested in Business Transformation and Software
  • Call Center Managers, Data Collection and Data Warehouse Professionals Challenged by Big Data Collection, Analysis and Social Media
  • Marketing Executives BI/DW professionals with an interest in Social Media and ROI Measurement

Network Before, During and After the event

Follow us on Twitter: @TDWINYC

Event Hashtag: #TDWINYC

Join our LinkedIn Group: TDWI NYC Tri-State Area Chapter

What TDWINYC is about

∎ Analytics ∎ Business Intelligence ∎ Best Practices ∎ Big Data ∎ Big Data in Healthcare, Finance, Government ∎ Big Table ∎ Business Analytics ∎ Cassandra ∎ Cloud Computing  ∎ Data Warehousing ∎ Data Visualization ∎ Decision Management ∎ Hadoop Innovation ∎ IT ∎ MapReduce ∎ Operations ∎ Operations Research ∎ROI ∎ Results ∎ Social Media ∎ Business Success ∎

We look forward to seeing you!

At Social Business Builders,
we work with brands & software companies to deliver increased revenue and decreased costs.
Our Motto? Learn. Share. Grow!

@DrNatalie L. Petouhoff
310-919-8467

Want to see how to get an ROI from Social Media? Check out these fun videos:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company

Here’s My book on How Businesses can Drive Sales on Facebook: Like My Stuff: How To Monetize Your Facebook Fans

Want to get more info on the business use of social media? Connect with me here:
Twitter:
 @drnatalie
LinkedIn: DrNataliePetouhoff
G+ : Google Plus posts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.petouhoff

Enhanced by Zemanta
Share