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Cover image for Why Are There So Few Women Programmers?
Michael Seymour
Michael Seymour

Posted on

Why Are There So Few Women Programmers?

Only 5% of developers are women (source: StackOverflow Developer Survey 2022). Someone recently asked me why there's so few women in tech. "It’s not a physically demanding job so why not?" he said.

I didn't really have a good answer to explain it, so I had a look around on the internet and made a summary of the top reasons I could find.

I tried keeping the article succinct and easy to read so excuse the surface-level analysis.

Stereotypes

How your parents, teachers, media etc. treat you while you’re growing up influences your career choice. Some examples:

  • If a friend has a broken computer, a parent might tell their daughter to 'stay away and let the man do it'
  • A parent might buy toy cars, guns, legos etc. for a boy which are much more related to programming/engineering than barbies, cooking toys, etc.

Women Don’t Want to Join a Male-Dominated Career

There are so few women programmers because there are so few women programmers to begin with.

Being in a career dominated by the opposite sex can have it’s problems, such as:

  • Greater chance of facing sexist comments, harassment etc.
  • Being singled out or getting special treatment
  • Masculine terms being used by default

Lack of Role Models

Having role models are important. If a girl has an interest in programming but doesn’t see any other girl programmers, she might see that as a red flag and pursue another interest.

Controversial Reason: Biological Differences

This is a very controversial reason made popular by James Damore who got fired from Google for writing a memo suggesting this.

I’m just mentioning it for the sake of completeness but note that none of his theories have been scientifically proven. The gist is:

The brains of men and women are wired up differently which could explain some of the stereotypical differences in male and female behavior.


I've turned this post into a TikTok video which you can view on my account here if you'd like:
Why are there so few women software developers?

Top comments (1)

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andromelus profile image
Florian CASTELAIN

It always amazes me that this topic seems to be an obsession with women in certain field, but never with men in other fields.

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