Study Finds Women Write Better Code, Reveals Bias

A research team of six American university students published a study on Thursday that shows code submitted by women is accepted at a higher rate than code from men. Yet men’s code is accepted more often when gender is identified.

“Our results suggest that although women” code writers “may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless,” the team concluded.

The researchers analyzed nearly 1.4 million users of Github, a open-source code sharing website. They found that 78.6 percent of pull requests, or suggested code changes, authored by women were accepted. Only 74.6 percent of pull requests from men were accepted.

The team then compared the acceptance rates for women and men not well known to the community, but with an identifiable gender. The rate for outsiders of both genders fell. Yet acceptance for outside women plunged 9.3 percent, putting it below that for outside men.

The study found gender bias against female code writers.The six student researchers from California State Polytechnic and North Carolina State universities tried to find explanations other than bias. They checked if women submitted shorter requests, if they were likely to respond to known issues, or if they used more popular programming languages, among other factors. Still, they could find no correlation.

The team looked at four million users who logged into Github on a single day – April 1, 2015. Github does not request information about gender from its users. Yet the researchers collected data from users they did identify by gender. Some from their profiles, others by cross-referencing their Google+ accounts.

The study still awaits peer review. That means other scholars haven’t yet critically analyzed it for flaws.

(Women in high tech discuss their experiences and frustrations.)

Only 18 percent of tech workers at Google are women, 16 percent at Facebook. revealed in December, 2014 that 91 percent of IT companies see only a fifth of job applications from women.

Computer scientist Dr. Sue Black sees hope in the study’s findings. “Knowing that women are great at coding gives strength to the case that it’s better for everyone to have more women working in tech.”


All images are from Pixabay except:

Share with your friends

Follow Us

Enter your email address to get updated when we have new posts on the site and never miss a thing:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *