This Study Says Women Make Better Coders — But There’s a Catch
Categories: Career

This Study Says Women Make Better Coders — But There’s a Catch

Tech women have been killin’ it these past few years. From moms who changed their lives by learning to code, to African American and Latina women in tech paving the way in the industry, it seems like it’s ladies’ time to shine in STEM careers. So it’s no surprise that new research shows that women are actually better than men at coding.

Researchers from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and North California State University looked at about 1.4 million users on GitHub, an open-source code-sharing website, and found that 78.6 percent of pull requests (when a user suggests a code change to another user’s project) by women were accepted, compared to 74.6 percent by men. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s definitely significant, considering the myth that we’re only starting to dispel that says men are more naturally suited to work in STEM fields.

Unfortunately, the study found that there’s a real-life catch. The researchers were only able to determine each user’s gender through some digging (for example, through linked Google+ accounts), but most of the 1.4 million users’ genders weren’t immediately apparent to other users.

When the researchers looked at the success rates of the website’s most well-known users, whose genders were known to those they were interacting with, their findings were pretty different. When a female user’s gender is known, her acceptance rate drops to 62.5 percent — which means male-identified users are more likely to write accepted code than female-identified users. UGH.

“Women have a higher acceptance rate of pull requests overall, but when they’re outsiders and their gender is identifiable, they have a lower acceptance rate than men,” the researchers write. “Our results suggest that although women on Github may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless.”

Have you had any frustrating experiences like this in a STEM field? Tweet us your thoughts at @BritandCo

(Photos via Getty)