Does Open Source Open Doors?

February 13, 2017

Nowadays it is not completely unthinkable to hear about inspiring women in tech, but still there is a huge gender inequality in the IT world, despite the evidence [1] that gender diverse teams perform better. The idea of women programmers is still not widely acceptable and they might take different paths in order to be successful in a field which is full of stereotypes and is not considered as a ‘girlie’ profession.

At last week’s research seminar we heard an interesting presentation from Orsi Vásárhelyi about her research topic on female success in a project-based environment and how female career paths might differ from male career paths. In IT, development requires team work, so besides knowledge and good programming skills your success depends on collaboration. In her research Orsi used data from the popular Open Source community, known as GitHub, where developers share their work (an application, for example) and they often collaborate. But GitHub also serves as a social networking site for the IT community. Orsi presented how this data can be used to measure performance and success on individual level and on team level, to detect gender inequalities in the IT profession (we heard about Django girls), and not least to study how success and paths to success differ based on gender.

Figure | Gender difference in activities and collaboration in the GitHub community.

The female presence on GitHub and in the IT community clearly shows the diverse capabilities and interest of girls and hopefully it is a good sign towards celebrating women in Silicon Valley.

When I was writing this post and wandering around the websites mentioned above I came across the following quote, which I found quite fitting for any future Django girls out there:

Technology places an immense amount of power in your hands and in your mind. My advice to girls pursuing a future in tech is not to squander that power in exchange for acceptance. —  Lindi Emoungu

  1. Woolley, Anita Williams, et al. "Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups." science 330.6004 (2010): 686-688.

Written by Kinga András