Two ways to improve gender balance in tech


Building a mixed team has proven to have significant benefits for the business, but it remains a significant challenge for most IT organizations. To find a solution, we analyzed 64,461 responses to the Stack Overflow developer survey. The analysis focused on the gender ratios for the different roles in IT. The results showed that interdisciplinary roles attract more women than dry-coded roles. Based on the results of the analysis, we recommend that IT organizations take the following two steps to improve the gender gap: create new jobs of an interdisciplinary nature and provide development pathways for women with interdisciplinary roles towards dry coding jobs.

Diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams. Gender diversity, in particular, has positive effects on radical innovation, a crucial criterion for technology companies. At Bayer, we firmly believe that the best teams are made up of various talents – that the collective sum of individual differences is an important factor in Bayer’s success. However, achieving gender parity in IT is a challenge that most companies find unachievable.

Only 26% of positions in computer science and mathematical sciences and 15% of positions in engineering are owned by women in the United States Despite the inclusion and diversity programs put in place by most technology leaders, women in technical positions remain at an average of 24%. These statistics are helpful in understanding the scale of the problem, but as a data-driven organization we wanted to do more research to understand why the problem persisted.

Our survey analysis

Stack Overflow is one of the most used question and answer sites for programmers. It is made up of over 21 million computer-related questions and 32 million answers. Their 2020 developer survey received 64,461 responses from IT professionals around the world. We began our research by analyzing the gender distribution of the site’s survey responses. As expected, male respondents made up the vast majority (71.4%) of respondents. More than a fifth (21.6%) of respondents did not specify their gender. Women represented only 5.96% of the respondents. And only 1.1% of respondents identified themselves as non-binary.

To develop a more precise understanding of the gender gap in IT organizations, we analyzed the gender gap within each of the 23 roles referenced in the survey. The roles were diverse, including jobs in development, research, administration, domain expertise, and business operations, among others. All 23 roles were dominated by men, but marketing and sales had the smallest gender gap, with 9.97% of respondents identifying as female. This was followed by the role of Data Scientist, of which only 7.67% of respondents identified themselves as female. The biggest gender gap existed in DevOps, where only 2.58% of respondents identified as female, followed by system administration, for which 2.61% of respondents identified as female.

Next, we used the ranks of roles based on the percentages of each gender and calculated the difference between the two sexes to robustly spot the most attractive roles for women.

For example, Front-End Development ranked fourth most popular jobs for women, but it ranked 15the for men. Development of workstations classified 17e most popular job for women, while it ranked fourth for men.

After calculating the differences for all roles, we ranked the roles based on the popularity of the respondents:

  • High: Marketing and Sales, Data Scientist, Analyst, Designer, Researcher, Front-End Developer, Quality Assurance, Scientist, Teacher
  • Roles limits: Data Engineer, Full-Stack Developer, Mobile Developer, Senior Executive
  • Moo: Backend Developer, Game Developer, Product Manager, Embedded Systems Developer, Database Administrator, Engineering Manager, Office Developer, Site Engineer, System Administrator, DevOps

The data revealed that the roles most likely to attract women had interdisciplinary characteristics. They combined other areas with programming. Meanwhile, the less popular roles tended to have a stronger “dry coding” nature.

Use the data to solve the problem: By combining the above ideas with a classic ‘funnel’ strategy, we recommend two concrete tactics: 1) to create new jobs of an interdisciplinary nature to attract more women into the field and 2) to provide development avenues for women with interdisciplinary roles to develop dry. coding work.

Create new interdisciplinary roles

To close the gender gap in your IT organization, create more jobs that combine programming skills with skills from other areas of the business. We recommend that you analyze the following two points to decide which new interdisciplinary jobs will best suit your organization:

Analyze stakeholder expertise: If your IT team works with business units to develop domain-specific solutions, create vacancies that combine the domain and the IT role. For example: an HR product manager will need both expertise and previous experience in the HR field and the technical expertise required for the management of IT products. In addition to the benefits of gender diversity, these jobs will also bridge the communication and expertise gaps between teams, leading to better end business results.

Analyze tasks and responsibilities: Gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of your current team. Find commonalities in the tasks that correspond to the roles most appealing to applicants. Create a new vacancy for these tasks. For example, you might find that your in-built developers spend a significant amount of their time analyzing. Open a new analyst job and target women. If the position does not require a full-time employee, create that part-time position, which will encourage even more women to apply.

Create development paths to “dry coding” tasks

Once you have attracted more women to your organization with interdisciplinary roles, provide development opportunities for them to move into roles that have a stronger “dry coding” nature. Follow these three steps to choose the development programs that best suit your organization:

Analyze: Start by analyzing the gender ratios for each role in your organization. These male-to-female ratios will be unique, depending on the nature and geographic location of your organization. Mark the jobs with the best and worst gaps and compare your internal results to previous results. Next, prioritize the roles that need urgent diversity improvements.

Match: For each of the roles you have prioritized, find another role that is technically similar and with a better gender balance. Consult with your technical experts to guide you through the similarity of different jobs to each other. For example, if your organization needs to improve the diversity of your full-stack developers, a viable match could be front-end developers where the gender balance is better.

Develop: Ask your HR and technical experts to develop a technical development program to train female talent in the new technical skills required for their new role. Encourage these programs if necessary. Ensure that positive mentoring is available for applicants.

Closing the gender gap in your IT organization won’t be easy, but it’s an important task that will improve your team’s overall performance. To attract more women to IT positions in your business, identify positions that lack female representation, then create positions that combine technical skills and interdisciplinary skills. Once you’ve successfully diversified your team, find ways to develop the skills of your new hires so that they are ready to take on roles that focus only on technical expertise (they should eventually want to evolve into those roles. ).


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