Survey says more women are going into programming

A new global survey of software developers suggests that females will be making up an increasing percentage of the programmer population in coming years

Two women at a podium labeled She++
Alaina Percival CC BY 2.0 (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Women continue to make up a disproportionately small percentage of software developers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated, in 2014, 4 out of 5 programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. However, according to a new survey of developers, women may soon make up a significantly larger portion of the programmer population.

The study was conducted this spring jointly by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC (IDC is owned by International Data Group, the parent company of ITworld). 855 developers took the online survey, which was open to developers from across the globe. The results were released earlier this week.

The survey found that women are making up a significantly larger percentage of newer professional developers. Specifically, they make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience.

Application Developers Alliance/IDC
Developer experience by gender chart Application Developers Alliance/IDC

“The substantial increase in female developers in recent years corresponds with female enrollment trends in computer science programs,” the report authors wrote. “As a result, we expect the ratio of female developers to continue increasing over time.”

In contrast, a survey conducted earlier this year by the Anita Borg Institute found that, while women do make up larger portions of less experienced technology workers, they also leave the tech industry at a rate twice that of men. In particular, that study found a 50% decline in female participation from entry level tech workers to tech executives. It will be interesting to see if these new female developers stay in the industry over time and make up a larger percentage of more experienced programmers in future years.

The Application Developers Alliance/IDC survey also had a lot of other interesting findings about professional software developers, including:

  • 88% of survey respondents said they use more than one programming language. More specifically, 70% said they use 2-5 languages, 15% use 5-10, and 3% reported that they use more than 10 programming languages.
  • Java is the most popular programming language, with 43% of survey participants saying they were highly skilled in it and 25% saying moderately skilled. The rest of the top 5 programming languages were JavaScript (34% / 31%), SQL (33% / 27%), C/C++ (25% / 28%), and C# (23% / 24%).
  • 77% of respondents reported using open source technologies, while 43% said they contributed to open source.
  • When asked what new technologies excite them most, survey participants mentioned wearables more than anything else (44%), followed by robotics (39%), IoT (35% consumer IoT, 34% enterprise IoT), AI (33%), augmented or virtual reality (27%), and drones (19%).

As the authors note, these results reflect most strongly the U.S. developer population (which makes about 19% of the world’s population of software developers), given that 78% of respondents were from there.

You can download the full survey results for yourself from the Application Developers Alliance website.

This story, "Survey says more women are going into programming" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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