Study Concludes GitHub Pull Requests From Women Are Accepted Less Than Men's

13 February 2016

The Guardian:

“Women’s acceptance rates dominate over men’s for every programming language in the top 10, to various degrees,” the researchers found.

The researchers then queried whether women were benefiting from reverse bias – the desire of developers to promote the work of women in a field where they are such a small minority. To answer this, the authors differentiated between women whose profiles made it clear that they were female, and women developers whose profiles were gender neutral.

It was here that they made the disturbing discovery: women’s work was more likely to be accepted than men’s, unless “their gender is identifiable”, in which case the acceptance rate was worse than men’s.

Crazy study. If women hide their gender, their rate of acceptance is higher than men. If they are openly female in their profiles, the acceptance rate is lower than men. I like to think that I am gender blind, that I only care about the quality of the submitted code, but maybe I’m not. This study certainly suggests that there is an institutional bias.1

1 As always, sample population studies do not necessarily reflect the real situation. In this case, having the counterfactual to support (the data regarding women who did not openly identify their gender in their profiles) gives the report a lot of weight however.