However, alongside this win for female tech workers was disappointment, as their findings also produced compelling data to suggest an inherent gender bias still remains within the software industry.
The university teams from two Departments of Computer Science used the open source software resource, Github, to carry out their research. They trawled through 1.4 million user accounts to assess the take up of code based on the gender of the code’s creator. Where the code was created by women, but could not be identified by other users as such, women’s code was selected significantly more often than men's, but where the code was presented in a format that identified gender, code written by men was favoured.
This work, awaiting peer review, could help shine a light on a stubbornly male dominated industry, showing that women are being overlooked in spite of their talent. As Doctor Sue Black OBE summarises “Knowing that women are great at coding gives strength to the case that it's better for everyone to have more women working in tech.” Indeed, as technology becomes a larger part of our lives the need for adept code workers has never been more necessary. However, we still have some way to go in reaching diversity.
Currently less than 20% of tech workers at Facebook & Google are women. This means that despite women’s ability to meet and exceed the demands of their industry they are still sorely under-represented. We can only hope that the publicity this study has generated will spark a re-assessment of women’s role in the software industry and further the incentive to encourage more women into this field.