Tech Now + Beyond

Are women actually better at coding?

A new research study suggests that women’s code is more likely to be accepted than those of men. But there’s a catch.

A recently published study titled “Gender Bias in Open Source: Pull Request Acceptance of Women Versus Men” has found that women’s pull requests on a popular code repository are more likely to be accepted than those of their male counterparts.

But here’s the catch: this only happened if their gender was unidentifiable.

The study looked at about 1.4 million users on GitHub, a global open-source code repository.

GitHub is considered to be a version control system, a place that keeps comprehensive, up-to-date code revisions stored in one place. Software and app developers can then view and download the new software.

Members of GitHub have the ability to browse through code and even suggest changes to the code themselves. By submitting a “pull request,” a member can ask a developer to have their changes viewed and subsequently recognized in the final product.

While GitHub doesn’t collect information on its members’ gender, it could often be assumed from their profile pictures, email address or any linked accounts.

The introductory statement of the study says:

Surprisingly, our results show that women’s [pull] contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s. However, when a woman’s gender is identifiable, they are rejected more often. Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless.

While the study has yet to be peer-reviewed, it raises an important question regarding sexism in the tech industry.

It’s no secret that the number of women in the tech + science industries are low – on the decline, even.

There’s also no shortage of stereotypes regarding women in tech. There’s the stereotype that they’re tomboyish and somehow less-feminine than other women, or that they’re weird, fire-breathing geeks with low social thresholds.

The alleged findings of this study simply reaffirm what we already know – that women in tech are capable, competent, and really good at coding.

Who’s heard of Margaret Hamilton, the woman whose stacks of handwritten code got us to the moon? Or Jean E. Sammet, the woman responsible for developing the first computer language at IBM? Or Megan Anctil, Erica Baker, Kiné Camara and Duretti Hirpa, the talented young black engineers Slack sent to accept its Fastest Rising Startup award?


There are so many brilliant and energetic women in this field, historically and today. This is just another reason we need to foster the love and pursuit for tech for women.

By Asma Elgamal

Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.

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