NBC News Tech, March 31, 2017 —
A new survey of computer developers shows men rate the diversity of a potential employer as the least important consideration. Women rated diversity in the middle of their considerations, at the ninth most important issue out of 16.
The survey was conducted on Stack Overflow, a popular website for programmers to ask each other questions about solving programming problems. 11,455 members of the programming community in the U.S. were asked for the survey.
Its findings come on the heels of a report released by Uber into the diversity of its employees after immense pressure to investigate claims of systemic sexual harassment within the organization. It found that just 15 percent of technical roles — which include engineers — are held by women. That’s similar to the percentage of women in similar roles at Facebook (17 percent), Google (19 percent) and Twitter (15 percent).
Stack Overflow performed an additional analysis for NBCNews.com that broke its survey out by gender:
Other industries are also asking the same question. Bloomberg cited research that showed only 10 percent of fund managers are female. Deloitte released a report on the manufacturing industry last year that found only 27 percent of industry employees were female.
Despite computer science departments’ low female enrollment today, it was once a popular major among women. And while computer science enrollment is growing quickly, it does not appear women are making up the majority share of those earning the new degrees.
Stack Overflow’s survey also directly asked men and women whether diversity in the workplace is important. On this, they disagreed dramatically:
Stack Overflow isn’t exactly a representative survey of the software engineering industry, however. Its respondents tended to be either newer entrants to the software industry or long-term members. This makes sense given that the site is a platform for learning and offering expertise.
Only approximately 15 percent of those surveyed were women, whereas the most recent Census report found that 25 percent of IT workers are women. Stack Overflow told NBCNews.com that its survey respondents were an accurate sample of its U.S. userbase.
Regardless, for many female software engineers, it’s clear that finding their way in an industry that shares their values may be what is still unanswered.