We Might Prefer Women’s Code (If We Don’t Know a Woman Wrote It)

Lauren Camera reports for U.S. News & World Report on research drawn from GitHub, an open source software community with millions of users who collaborate to solve coding problems. It seems to indicate that women’s coding recommendations are accepted at a higher rate than those of men, but it helps if no one knows they are women.

The difference in acceptance rate is only four percent in favor of women, which is not indicative of any savant status for women, but it certainly demonstrates there is absolutely nothing stopping women from being at least as useful in a coding environment as men. However, when looking at situations where people review code recommendations made by outsiders, “users who they had not been working with directly prior to making their request,” there is a change. Both men and women experience a drop in acceptance rates, but women’s rates decline more significantly if their profiles specifically note them as female. Acceptance rates for women drop to 62.5 percent, compared to the initial 78.6 percent enjoyed. What can be done to change such attitudes? That was not a rhetorical question; you let me know.

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