As a women developer, do you feel you are at a disadvantage compared to your fellow programmers? It may be because of what you do, rather than because of who you are, says a study recently published in EPJ Data Science.

The study analysed a large dataset of open source software developers and users from Github.com to capture the gendered pattern of behaviour, taking into account professional specialisation – front-end development vs data science – social and career expectations.

It showed that women in the high-tech sector are mostly marginalised based on behavioural categorisations and work expectations as opposed to categorical gender discrimination, as well as the typical unfortunate associations of professional specialisation, e.g. ‘masculine’ STEM careers for men versus a more’ feminine’ job role.

For example, women are more likely to be seen in front-end development and UX roles compared to men, who are typically assigned the more technical and logical back-end side of software development.

Some interesting examples from the tech industry:

  • A lawsuit against Google claimed that women were given front-end development roles without good reason with less access to promotions and higher payments than the benefits enjoyed by male back-end developers.
  • An AI tool developed by Amazon to help with screening and hiring applicants ended up rejecting all female applicants for development jobs after identifying patterns in their applications and areas of expertise – a case of algorithmic discrimination.
  • The EPJ Data Science research showed that 85% of women developer are being discriminated based on categories of activities and their access to these job options.

Based on the above, research claims that female developers are unlikely to experience the same career success and work trajectory as male counterparts, even if software companies are willing to tip the gender scales and hire more women developers.

Perhaps, in the long-term, software companies will rely on more female developers for various roles and start removing the inequality label associated with gender-typical behaviours and perceived work activities.

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