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DO WOMEN WRITE BETTER CODE?

Wednesday 17th February 2016
Tags: David
A group of University Students from the computer science departments at Cal Poly, and North Carolina State University in America have compiled a report looking at gender bias in Open Source based on the pull request acceptance of women versus men. The study looks at acceptance rates of contributions from men and women on GitHub.

The assumption prior to the report was that women would be prejudiced against by fellow coders. A 2013 study around Open Source website Stack Overflow showed that out of 2000 developers (who identified gender) only 11.2% of them were women. 

The outcome was in fact that women’s code was more likely to be approved than that of men’s, on one condition, that the code was posted anonymously. 

GitHub does not actually ask its users to provide details regarding their sex but the researchers were able to determine 1.4million user’s sex via various methods. 

The students found that 78.6% of pull requests made by women were accepted compared with 74.6% of those by men.

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

It is very hard to determine through such methods whether women do in fact produce better code than men, however it does indicate that there is a bias against women developers. 

Which raises the question what can be done to reduce this feeling of gender in equality the programming sector?

We'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this. 

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