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Female Coders Are Rated More Highly Than Men—Except When People Know They’re Women



By Amy X. Wang Quartz February 12, 2016

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A group of computer scientists, when studying the acceptance of contributions on the software repository GitHub, found open source code written by women is actually more often approved than code written by men. The catch—there’s always a catch—is that this only happens when the woman’s gender is hidden.

GitHub, which is used by more than 12 million people, allows developers to write code for the projects of other software developers, who then choose whether to approve the submissions. Among the 3 million submissions (or “pull requests”) the researchers examined, female-written code saw a 78.6 percent approval rate. With male-written code, it was 74.6 percent.

If female coders specified their gender on their profiles, though, their acceptance rate fell to 62.5 percent.

“Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless,” the six computer science researchers from California Polytechnic State University and North Carolina State University wrote in the study published Feb. 9.

The higher blind acceptance rate for code written by women is all the more impressive when you consider that men in the open source community overwhelmingly outnumber the female counterparts—who by various estimates, make up only 1 percent to 11 percent of the population.

This only adds to the avalanche of research on gender discrimination within the technology sector, typically finding men to be more dominant, visible, and respected while women are more likely to battle rampant sexism. Women, it seems, have everything it takes to thrive in the programming world. If only they could make everyone forget they’re women.

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