Women Code Better Than Men But Only If They Hide Their Gender, Study Suggests

12 February 2016, 1:28 pm EST By Christian de Looper Tech Times
A new study has been released suggesting that women get higher acceptance rates for coding - but only if they don't say what their gender is. The study was conducted of 1.4 million GitHub users.  ( Marissa Anderson | Flickr )

According to a new study, computer code being written by women has higher approval ratings than the code written by men - but only if the gender of the coder is being hidden.

A number of factors were considered in the study, including things like whether or not contributions were shorter and thus easier to be appraised, which programming languages were being used and so on. After looking into these factors, however, researchers could not find any correlations.

Interestingly enough, among users who were not well known in the coding community, coding suggestions from those whose profiles clearly stated that the users were women had a far lower acceptance rate than suggestions from those who did not make their gender known. What this means is that there is a bias against women in the coding world.

The researchers, from the computer science departments of California Polytechnic State University and North Carolina State University, analyzed around 1.4 million users that logged on to coding website GitHub on April 1, 2015. The researchers were able to identify whether or not these people were male or female, either from their gender being known in their profile, or because their email addresses could be linked with social media profiles.

"For outsiders, we see evidence for gender bias: women's acceptance rates are 71.8 percent when they use gender-neutral profiles, but drop to 62.5 percent when their gender is identifiable. There is a similar drop for men, but the effect is not as strong," said the paper.

Basically, women seem to have higher acceptance rates, but only if it's not known that they're women.

It's important to note that the study is still awaiting peer review, meaning that it still has to be approved as valid by other experts.

Despite numerous initiatives started by tech firms, the tech world in general still faces sexism and other diversity issues. While it is getting better, the tech world still has a long way to go.

Photo: Marissa Anderson | Flickr 

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