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I know a lot of female programmers, and I know there are a good number of them out there.

But I don't recall ever having one of my questions answered by, nor have I ever answered a question by a female programmer here at Stack Overflow.

Now I mostly deal in the Delphi tag, and that may make a difference. But I've got the feeling there is something about the programming social network that Stack Overflow is, along with its form of mini-competition (via reputation) that turns most ladies off.

When I go down the first few pages of top users by rep, there is nary a lady to be found.

Go over to Quantcast and look up Stack Overflow. Go down to the Demographics, and you'll see that a full 20% of the visits are by females. So they are here, lurking and using the wonderful info that Stack Overflow provides.

Then why aren't there more of them participating, both with questions and answers?

What can Stack Overflow do to persuade female programmers to participate more?


So after a dozen downvotes offset by a dozen upvotes, and accusations by many that I am a bigot, the bottom line seems to be that Stack Overflow appeals to males more than females.

This is my observation and I believe a proper analysis would support the hypotheses that a much higher percentage of male programmers use Stack Overflow than the percentage of female programmers.

Assuming that is the case, then Stack Overflow is geared more towards the male psyche than the female. If so, I again ask, what can they do about that?


This question was asked in StackOverflow Meta on November 20, 2009. It was made Community Wiki. It was asked in a constructive manner and should be considered an appropriate question for Meta.

Yet it was closed over two years after it was asked as "not constructive" after more than 40 upvotes and 10 favorites and 16 answers.

Now it resides here on Meta StackExchange, still closed. I just shake my head.

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closed as not constructive by Rosinante, Pops, Chris Frederick, Anna Lear Dec 31 '11 at 23:12

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

5  
I don't think that meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22795/… is a duplicate... –  perbert Nov 20 '09 at 3:54
28  
Well I know why there's so few on Meta - this place looks like a dungeon! Even I don't like coming here, and I get scared when the sun's out. –  Tom Ritter Nov 20 '09 at 4:02
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@Tom Ritter: this place is a (rolls dice) dungeon! –  perbert Nov 20 '09 at 4:04
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Exactly how does that site get its numbers? Who owns the internet connection? the user name? This site doesn't specify gender, so where do these numbers materialize? –  Troggy Nov 20 '09 at 4:57
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How do you know you have not answered a question from a women? –  Troggy Nov 20 '09 at 5:05
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Futurama = automatic victory. voyager for the win. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Nov 20 '09 at 5:37
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@Troggy: your wish is my command. This is not about SO demographics, is about Quantcast undisclosed methods to infer gender demographics. –  perbert Nov 20 '09 at 5:38
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I think the real question is: why aren't more dudes pretending to be ladies on SO to get more rep from horny programmers? –  Kip Nov 20 '09 at 14:22
    
For the record, the vote I'm about to cast is not the text that will show up when this question gets closed. –  John Rudy Nov 20 '09 at 14:23
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I don't know why people are voting to close this. It is classified as discussion and is a valid question. But I'm changing the question to try to get some real answers. –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 14:23
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I kind of wanted to answer this question, I think it's a good one. Just had some trouble logging in. –  Sara Chipps Nov 20 '09 at 14:24
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I just show them my laser, and they come running. –  XMLbog Nov 20 '09 at 15:09
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firtjer easily demonstrates the opposite intent of the OP. –  Adam Davis Nov 20 '09 at 15:23
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There are actually 2 questions here: (1) Do fewer women than men ask and answer questions on SO? (2) If so, does SO have a responsibility to or interest in doing something about that? –  j_random_hacker Nov 22 '10 at 15:39
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Why is this closed as not constructive? I think this is an excellent question. OP has actually bothered to look up statistics, not just saying "Hur I dun see women nowhere wtf", and it's a fair point. –  Leo King Jul 17 at 10:00

16 Answers 16

up vote 40 down vote accepted

Well, this is a good question, whether or not it's related to Stack Overflow (which it is). I had a bit to think about this due to Technorati Open Id juju being awful, and I still haven't come up with a reasonable answer for all women, so I can only answer for myself.

This isn't the first time I've thought of this, my question/answer ratio on SO is DEPLORABLE. The answer is there is NO appeal for me in answering questions. Sure, the game is fun, but I feel like I have a lot on my plate. My hobbies during my down time involve shoes, the gym, and things of the sort (thus doing my share in fulfilling sexual stereotypes).

I WILL answer if I am on and happen to see a question that I know the answer to. However, I don't go looking for them, really.

I think the answer is it doesn't entertain me and I don't find much fulfillment in it. I do try to contribute to the community in other ways, however, so I am returning the effort I am asking for.

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That Q/A rate isn't terrible; don't do yourself down. –  Marc Gravell Nov 22 '09 at 0:15
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Thanks Sara, for coming back (after it opened again) and answering. You say: "it doesn't entertain me and I don't find much fulfillment in it". Despite everyone's accusations that I'm a bigot, I think SO is geared more towards males than females, and your answer gives one of the reasons. It is up to SO to change it to make it more appealing to everyone equally. –  lkessler Nov 22 '09 at 2:27
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@Ikessler You do realise that there are males that are put off by the whole concept of the site as well right? –  random Nov 22 '09 at 3:50
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random: Of course I do. But you and everyone else keeps missing the point that the percentage of female programmers that don't use the site is much higher than the percentage of male programmers that don't use it. –  lkessler Nov 22 '09 at 5:40
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We're not missing the point, many of us are just not buying your argument and demographic data. And to say, "it is up to SO to change it to make it more appealing to everyone equally" -- exactly what kind of changes would you propose? –  John Rudy Nov 22 '09 at 19:09
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Cigars: I don't know what changes SO should make. That's why I'm asking the question. –  lkessler Nov 22 '09 at 20:27
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@lkessler: Consider different reward models. Currently there is a single measure, the reputation. It seems that maybe males are more likely to buy into a single measure of success. –  rwong Oct 5 '10 at 8:07
    
I think women and asian men have very little incentive to show off. I mostly ask questions. When I was in college, I never answer questions even though I know the answers of all unless the teachers promise extra points for answers. –  Jim Thio Nov 8 '12 at 6:11
    
@JimThio, Wait, is that sexist or racist? –  Pacerier Jun 25 at 12:22
    
Perhaps you should ask, is that true? Yes. Based on my experience. Only white males diligently raise hand trying to answer every questions publicly. If they do get a raise due to that, it's fair. Of course, I did get all the As –  Jim Thio Jun 25 at 12:59
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@JimThio, So you come from a mixed school? –  Pacerier Jun 25 at 13:01
    
I learn programming in UW Madison. I do not see any discrimination whatsoever against anyone. Not me (I am an Asian). Not people's of color. Racism is death. People fail because they have low IQ, lower talent, or just lazy. But making excuses pay so that's what we keep hearing. –  Jim Thio Jun 25 at 13:17
    
The only discrimination I see is when I was interviewed for a post grad study at Cal Tech. There is a girl everyone says will get in. After she left I ask, why? Her Math GRE is only 670. I got perfect, I don't think I'll get in because it's too easy to score perfect for Math GRE. Then people says, of course she gets in. She's female. I am glad I am a businessman. There is no discrimination here and yap I saw many businesswomen too. Perhaps some occupation, like IT, are simply not women's job? Strippers are mostly women. So what? Why women complain they don't get into IT? –  Jim Thio Jun 25 at 13:20
    
I agree with Sara. It just does not interest me to answer. I come here a lot, almost always, when I have a question. It's a great site because of the fact that you all participate. Sometimes it is difficult to find an answer when you are all in this competition/argument of whose answer is correct. I just have other interests and better ways to spend my time than to go through and participate in an online community. –  Danielle Gannon Oct 21 at 23:57

There might be a lot of women programmers, but percentage wise, are really too few. That's what makes them seem like there aren't that many, but they are there. The reason? It has been debated a lot during the past 25 years, so I won't go there.

There is the possibility that there are women programmers whose nicks don't convey a womens name.

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9  
Like Welbog. She's hot. –  XMLbog Nov 20 '09 at 11:57

Stack Overflow isn't a social network.

But what does it matter if the user answering your question or asking for help is a female or not? For all you know, the females could be using non-gender specific avatars/names as well as males using female names.

They are already on this site. But maybe they're just not datafied by Quantserve. (How does it get that data anyhow? The only proper looking stat on there is the income level.)

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Oh but I disagree. It is THE social network for programmers. –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 4:17
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If you see it as social networking, then the duplicate fits your bill. –  random Nov 20 '09 at 4:19
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Not social in THAT way. Social being conversational and helping others. –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 4:23
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It is just like Myspace where every 16 year old makes 250k+ a year. –  Troggy Nov 20 '09 at 5:02
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@Ikessler: Meta is conversational. The others aren't (typically) supposed to be. :) –  John Rudy Nov 20 '09 at 15:09
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On a project I'm working on, I'm strongly considering using Stack Overflow (and SU & SF) as sort of like a social network - asking people to point to their profile and then extracting their tags and the tags of the questions they've posted and responded to so we can then recommend sessions at a conference. Just because something doesn't work like Twitter/Facebook/MySpace doesn't mean it's not producing social data. I mean, Digg is considered a social network by some. Anyway, this is OT. –  Tom Morris Nov 21 '09 at 5:35
    
Hell has officially frozen over, pigs are flying and I actually agree with random. –  Locutus Apr 21 '10 at 13:12

stackoverflow.com is fueled by passionate programmers regardless of gender. However maybe males are more inclined to seek public recognition for solving problems.

That being said, I don't see SO as being a male centric site by any means. Gender simply isn't an issue.

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Why is only 1 football owner black?

Take a minority (like blacks in america (12.8%) or women in programming) and apply another minority (football team owners or active users of stackoverflow). At this point, you're may not even have a statistically valid sample, but whatever you have is skewed to a certain degree by the filtering. So what I'm getting at it how do you know it's not random noise?

Now, perhaps you want to take Jeff's approach that he stresses on the podcast so often: 'Programmers love games', they 'love rules', they 'love numbers'. If you want to take that approach, the question (or perhaps the conclusion drawn but that's definitely not the scientific method at work) is that women don't seem to be as drawn to the 'game' aspect of Stackoverflow as men. Which might be the case. Are there any scientific studies about women preffering or not preffering RPGs in a different skew than men? Might be relevant.

And that case might be true, but it also might not. All that said... maybe they're out building something?

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But that does not answer why if 20% of programmers are women, and 20% of visits to StackOverflow are by women, then why are what seems to be less than 1% of the users and postings by women? –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 4:31
2  
@Ikessler: two reasons: there is no way to reliably match a nick to a gender, and women are smarter than men to get into SO as a game <tongue-in-cheek> and less generous to be helping others for free </tongue-in-cheek> –  perbert Nov 20 '09 at 4:36
12  
Quantcast also says this site attracts a "Less Affluent audience" with 61% of us making under 60K, that we're 2.9 times more likely to be interested in "Home & Gardening" than the average person, as well as strong affinity to "Diet & Fitness", "Shipping" (?), "Politics and Commentar[sic]". Yes, lots of students, and maybe foreign workers whose wages convert to less, but frankly, I don't trust them if they're not willing to say how they determine gender. –  Tom Ritter Nov 20 '09 at 4:50
    
Males are probably easier t enjoy the game mechanics of Stackoverflow. Put in a few others like "number of followers", "post status updates" ... ie., stuff completely orthogonal to what stackoverflow is all about and the demographics will see a change. –  Tathagata Apr 9 '11 at 4:20
    
I thought this was going to be an interesting comparison to recent studies on how black coaches are expected to overperform in sports, analogous to women over-performing in male-dominated programming circles. But, no, you went into sociology/biological preferences. –  Anna Billstrom Jun 12 '12 at 21:53

How do you know they aren't participating? A huge number of SO users don't use their real names, so you actually have no idea.

Why don't we see more women on SO? I think mostly because there are so few programmers. In my university computer science classes, I think they were about 10% female.

Why are there so few women entering the programming fields? I don't really know. Some other countries (India and China in particular) seem to have a much higher percentage of women in science and engineering. In my graduating class, there was only one other white woman. They say that it's just not emotionally appealing, girls aren't as interested in math and logic, but meh, it's always been fun to me, so what do I know? Apparently I am my own island.

But even so, maybe we should be seeing more women on SO than we do. Okay, so back to there being a lot of pseudonym here. So why is that? For me, because I can. Because I don't care about anything but the code, so if I can get away with using a picture of my dearly departed cat and a nickname, why the heck not?

Disclaimer: I've been drinking.

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Agreed, since Stack Overflow doesn't require someone to use their real name, there really isn't a way of telling the gender of someone who makes a post. –  rob Nov 20 '09 at 14:12
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+1 for drinking –  John Rudy Nov 20 '09 at 14:22
    
Still trying to find reason, references or occasions for change behind last two name alterations. One would suffice for the meme. –  random Nov 21 '09 at 0:26
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@random: I decided Æther was more readable than ðer (except maybe to Ólafur). –  Ether Nov 21 '09 at 0:38
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When I see real photos in their profile, they're generally male. –  Andrew Grimm Aug 13 '10 at 8:56
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@Andrew: There's generally no problem revealing that you're a male programmer, and anyone is less likely to do something if it will cause them problems. 'Sides, how do you know those aren't photos of boyfriends and husbands? –  Gnome Oct 24 '10 at 9:10

Because women take more time to search the information and there are fewer occasions that they actually think they should ask a new question on SO :P As for the answers, maybe they think it's better to wait and see what others have to say before offering a solution.

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6  
Man, who even asks questions on SO? You'd have to be pretty dumb in the first place to ask a question. –  XMLbog Nov 20 '09 at 12:25
    
Dumb and lazy, please, don't underestimate me, I mean, I did hear of Google and all, but c'mon... why not let others do the searching? :P Oh, yes, and trying to game the system by getting rep for questions instead of answers, well, imagine that! –  luvieere Nov 20 '09 at 13:12
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If we're getting into the stereotypes, it's well known that men don't ask directions while driving. Why would they ask questions about programming? –  David Thornley Nov 20 '09 at 14:42
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I always search Google first. If after 10 minutes, I can't find the answer, I ask it on StackOverflow. Then within 10 minutes more, I often get the answer, along with additional expert ideas that I would not have thought of. So that makes me dumb and lazy!? –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 14:43
    
I asked my first non-discussion question in a few months just a few days ago, and was highly annoyed that after carefully writing up my question with a good code sample, the answer popped right out. But at least I got the Self-Learner badge out of it. –  Ether Nov 20 '09 at 16:43
    
I was being ironic, @lkessler, don't worry, Jesus still loves you ;)) –  luvieere Nov 20 '09 at 17:14
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Where do you get this: "women take more time to search"? –  Troggy Nov 20 '09 at 23:16
    
Out of nowhere, @Troggy. –  luvieere Nov 21 '09 at 11:34

I voted to close this question as "blatantly offensive." I was the only vote in that category.

Why do I consider this blatantly offensive? Because S[OFU] are not social networking sites. That's what Twitter and MySpace and Facebook and LinkedIn are for. S[OFU] is a collection of Q&A sites. You want meet people, go there. You want your questions answered, you come here. I don't care if the person on the other side of the question (or answer) is a man, a woman, or an asexual single-celled organism. I care about the content on the sites.

I'm also offended by Quantcast's presence in this discussion. With no specified methodology, all they're doing is making wild guesses about the audience here. They have no better knowledge than we. As others have said, you can't go by user names. Not only may men be hiding behind female names, but the opposite may well be true, too.

Finally, I'm offended by this question because it ignores the 800 pound gorilla in the room: The deeper question isn't how to get more women on the Trilogy, the deeper question -- and a much harder one -- is how to get more women into IT to begin with. How do we make this career attractive to young women, such that they want to pursue IT-related degrees and enter this field?

I'm not happy with the demographics of IT; I doubt many of us really are. When it comes down to it, IT is still a very male-dominated field.

So how do we get more women onto the Trilogy? Get more women into IT. As they (like all of us) need help or feel the need to help others, they will naturally gravitate toward the premier Q&A sites.

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I'd vote to close, but still a little rep away... –  jmfsg Nov 20 '09 at 15:10
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I was the final one before it got reopened. But it got reopened fast, so it's obviously a valid discussion; even if I could re-vote to close (I don't think you can) I won't now. –  John Rudy Nov 20 '09 at 15:14
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This is like to stir up controversy, but why should we persuade anyone to get into the IT field? The field should not actively discriminate against anyone; but if people aren't interested in IT should we be persuading them to have an interest? –  rob Nov 20 '09 at 15:34
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This whole question still sounds like trying to make a programmer's love connection. Hence, the first close vote as dupe. It's like they want the female programmers to be easily identified for some reason. –  random Nov 20 '09 at 15:44
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@random: I agree, which is only going to make some people more uncomfortable and desire to be anonymous. –  Ether Nov 20 '09 at 16:45
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Yes there are more males than females in IT. But my point is that there seem to be an extremely low number of IT females on SO. There is something about SO - maybe it is the male domination that you talk of - that is keeping them away. If 1 out of every 10 male programmers is on SO but only 1 out of every 1000 females are, then your solution of getting more females into IT will not help. My question above is: What can SO do to get that ratio of IT females up? –  lkessler Nov 20 '09 at 20:45
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My questions to you are: How do you know what the demos are, and does it matter? My argument is that the demos you cite are inherently flawed, and that it does not matter. At all. Why do you care if the person answering your question is male or female? –  John Rudy Nov 20 '09 at 20:58
    
I know I'm late to this "party" but... Yes, it matters. Obviously not to you... that's fine. But equally obviously, it matters to us. We'd like more female role models, more females giving their experienced advice and creating a complex culture that can be shared by both men and women alike... This also goes for other aspects of diversity, but being a white female... I can only speak for helping get more women in. –  Taryn East Jun 22 '12 at 8:53
    
I'll also add that increasing the diversity on any spectrum leads to an improvement, due to having a wider variety of ways of experiencing the world... thus leading to improved ability to solve complex problems. We need more viewpoints, not fewer. –  Taryn East Jun 22 '12 at 8:53
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"How do we make this career attractive to young ladies" - you could start by not referring to us/them as "young ladies", which comes across as rather condescending. –  Vicky Jul 4 '12 at 10:15
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@Vicky: Let's see: Young, as in "in school," the age when most people make career choices. Ladies, as in female, as in the topic of the discussion. If it comes across as condescending, then that's on you, not me. What magic incantation of political correctness would you have me say to be valid here? "Young women?" How is that less condescending? "Women?" Same thing? "Girls?" I'd say that's worse. This is exactly why all political correctness needs to get drop-kicked into oblivion. I'm being combative, because your problem is with verbiage, and not the problem. THAT is condescending. –  John Rudy Aug 21 '12 at 0:02
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@JohnRudy, "young women" is not at all condescending and would have been fine. Have you ever been called "young gentleman" by anyone who was actually taking you seriously at the time? "Young lady" is only one step away from "don't worry your pretty little head about it". As for picking on the verbiage - the whole point is that it is NOT just verbiage, it has a real effect on people who already find it hard (or fear they will find it hard) to be taken seriously. I've done plenty of online and in-person mentoring of young women in tech and I know of which I speak. –  Vicky Aug 25 '12 at 13:54
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@Vicky: I could not disagree with you more. You strike me as someone who picks apart the tiniest thing to disagree with and completely misses the point of the post, which is actually on the side of trying to solve the problem, not a single two-syllable word. But in the interest of making everyone in the world happy, I've edited it. Are you happy now? –  John Rudy Sep 1 '12 at 1:14
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@Vicky Whether or not the term itself is actually offensive... I think it was clear from John's post that he didn't intend it in an offensive way. He's clearly stating a desire to encourage more women to enter the field. So I think there's a point where you have to see a term that you might consider offensive in your own mind and weigh it against the clear intentions of the rest of the post, and realize it wasn't meant in that way. Intent isn't always easy to see through the eyes of the internet, but I think it is here. –  WendiKidd Sep 1 '12 at 3:37
    
@JohnRudy - thank you for the edit, yes that really does make your answer a whole lot better. It may seem like a small change but it can and does make the difference between someone actually reading and taking in your point, versus being instantly put off it. –  Vicky Sep 1 '12 at 20:53

In regards to the demographics presented by Quantcast, I did a bit of searching around and found that according to the Computing Research Association about 26% of Bachelor of Computer Science degrees between 1994 and 2004 where awarded to women. Thus, it could be that the 20% demographic is almost exactly what you would expect it to be, considering Stack Overflow is a very computer programming centric site.

So this kind of leads to the question of what sort of numbers do you expect to so? Are you anticipating that the demographics should be roughly 50/50 with an even split between men and women? I would argue that you aren't going to see an even split on narrow focus sites in a lot of different industries.

However, if the question is what can we do to encourage more women to want to pursue an career in software development, then that is an open question that there still doesn't seem to be a good answer to.

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1  
Rob: If 26% of all females are programmers, and 20% of all visitors to StackOverflow are females, then shouldn't close to 20% of the users registered on StackOverflow be female. Okay. Assuming 75% of the female programmers hide hide the fact that they are female, then shouldn't 5% of StackOverflow users be clearly female by their userid? There are over 100,000 users now on StackOverflow. Start going down the list of them and you tell me how many you can find. If you even find a couple of hundred, I'd be surprised. –  lkessler Nov 22 '09 at 5:49
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@ikessler: "I'd be surprised?" I assumed, based on how strongly you felt about this topic, that you did all that research already and had hard numbers to back up your claims? –  John Rudy Nov 22 '09 at 19:12

What can Stack Overflow do to persuade homosexual programmers to participate more?

What can Stack Overflow do to persuade Jewish programmers to participate more?

What can Stack Overflow do to persuade black programmers to participate more?

What can Stack Overflow do to persuade female programmers to participate more?


Nothing. Please stop being a bigot.

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8  
thanks, my thoughts exactly –  Kip Nov 21 '09 at 3:14
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Asking why a particular group of people doesn't participate, or how they could be encouraged to participate more, is not being a bigot. Asking that question can be helpful for determining if there is a subtle, underlying sexism, or racism, or anything of the sort that is keeping people of a particular group out. Do you even know what "bigot" means? It means treating members of a group with hatred or intolerance. Does asking why more women don't participate mean that anyone is being treated with intolerance? –  Brian Campbell Feb 17 '10 at 3:52
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-1: Accusing people of bigotry is a lousy way of participating in this discussion. –  Charles Stewart Apr 21 '10 at 12:49
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So trying to identify the problem is being a bigot? So very very much not. –  TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Dec 30 '11 at 19:23
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You're saying that we should never strive to be inclusive. –  Anna Billstrom Jun 12 '12 at 21:54

Does the religion/gender/color/socioeconomic status of the person answering your question really matter?

NO, nor should it EVER.

To add to the discussion about "female programmer participation":

Name/Avatar does not always define gender. My avatar depicts a white woman, and my name says 'Heather', but how do you really know I'm not a guy? For all you know I named my SO profile in honor of my girlfriend, and I think she's hot so I put her as my avatar

(That is indeed me and my name is indeed Heather, but you see my point.)

Sexism still exists. We aren't in some magical post-feminist era where sexism is a thing of the past. People who think feminism is no longer necessary can have a chat with a client of mine who once refused to let me help her with a software problem on software that I WROTE, and instead insisted on speaking to the "head programmer man". Upon telling this wondrous client that I was the "head programmer" for the software she was using, she laughed in disbelief. Or you can talk to the IT "professional" who told me I needed to go back to playing with my Barbie dolls after I suggested he look into a proper client/server environment after all of the problems they had with their Windows 98 "server". Male coworker tells this guy the exact. same. thing., and he listens and takes note. Granted, these situations are in a vast minority of clients I deal with, but shit like this never happens to my male coworker.

Women are still perceived as lightweights Between myself and my male coworker (who is also a dev), less is expected of me than him. Frequently he gets passed more complicated issues that I could handle just as easily. Some of my coworkers express surprise when they ask him about an issue and he replies "Heather fixed it". It has taken me four years to shift the dynamic in this office where both of us devs are regarded about equally for problems. This may or may not have had anything to do with my gender, but this has happened to me before at other places of employment.

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Asker should now be appeased that a female has answered their question. Still all sounds like a ruse to identify/label the females on a site that is more about content than personality/gender. –  random Nov 20 '09 at 23:24
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@random: correction: now that two females have answered his question. –  Ether Nov 20 '09 at 23:51
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@Heather: thank you! I've had similar experiences but most weren't quite as blatantly offensive. –  Ether Nov 20 '09 at 23:52
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And a lot of us don't look male nor female! –  thursdaysgeek Nov 21 '09 at 0:02
    
Maybe work for a more progressive firm? Am probably in the "minority" in IT here, last three places have been 80% female. Just don't see the point of the question in that regard. –  random Nov 21 '09 at 0:28
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Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A about why we should absolutely not care about race/gender/age/anything here. Or for that matter, anywhere. Heather, thank you for sharing this. I hope to God that these nitwits you talk about wise up. That this kind of crap still happens to women offends me to no end. –  John Rudy Nov 21 '09 at 1:28
    
@Heather... I can't blame your colleagues... you do look cute :D –  luvieere Nov 22 '09 at 15:29
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"think she's hot so I put her as my avatar" - haha! –  Sergio Tapia Oct 4 '10 at 18:40
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@Sergio exactly :) Look how she furtively complimented herself :-))) –  Tomas Dec 30 '11 at 13:32
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DellaDea, nice answer. I'm not really sure this is sexism in principle. I think this is a feature of human brain to use some experience - we are all "victims of statistics". E.g. if you see 100 programmers and 99 are men, then you derive some experience and then use it when you meet a new person. I dont' think this is directed against women, it's just a general principle. You can find this in many other areas of our lives. You never start from zero, never "reset your experience". Maybe this kind of thinking helps us to survive. –  Tomas Dec 30 '11 at 13:37

Piz Plz

@Kip, I'm aiming this at you.

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I have this printed out and hanging on my bulletin board at work. –  Heather Dec 30 '09 at 18:54
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Look, what is wrong with the guy with no hat? IF a girl is hot, why can't we compliment her? And what's with the hat guy just bush into someone else' house dictating how the rest of us should think? –  Jim Thio Nov 8 '12 at 6:14
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@JimThio if you don't understand, stay the hell off this site and any other site where women might want to congregate. They aren't there to be ogled by you. –  Paul Tomblin Nov 8 '12 at 12:08
    
I am not ogling them. I compliment the beautiful goddesses and treat the rest like brothers. What's wrong with that? That guy doesn't ogle any girl either. –  Jim Thio Nov 9 '12 at 2:53
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@JimThio You need to examine your sense of privilege. Don't make me have to set you on fire. –  Paul Tomblin Nov 9 '12 at 2:57
    
Never mind :D Don't want to argue –  Jim Thio Nov 9 '12 at 3:30
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So, was (is) she single? –  Awal Garg May 23 at 13:37
    
Yea, I'd like to know that too. Sorry guys. I still got my balls. I won't cut it off just to stay politically correct like the rest of you. –  Jim Thio Jun 25 at 13:01

I believe the question was "What can Stack Overflow do to persuade female programmers to participate more?"

The answer is to value women's contributions as highly as men's, that is, on their worth and not who made them, and not tolerate misogynistic comments.

I don't think Stack Overflow has much trouble in that respect: what kind of evidence is there that female participants are being disrespected? I can't say I've seen any here - I've seen a fair bit elsewhere.

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The problem is there are not that many females in the field to begin with. And thus, I don't think Stack Overflow stands to benefit much by persuading females.

I certainly didn't need a push from them ;)

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Did you ever hear about getting more men in female dominated fields? No.

Did you ever hear of getting more females into male dominated fields? Yes.

Why? The inherent assumption is they are weak and oppressed and need to be saved.. They can't do it on their own and need special help. Maybe the industry is not a specific gender friendly (ironically, that is, supposedly not sexist -- An assumption that in the given setup, girls can't adapt and thrive).

I suck at advanced mathematics = I suck
I suck at making money = I suck
Random girl sucks at computers = Something wrong with the industry

Oh, get over it. If they're good enough, they'll do it on their own.

Yes, by the way, if you get your reverse-sexist glasses off, the top three rank pages on Stack Overflow are filled with guys - ideals are something, facts are something else.

(You may now downvote.)

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-1 because "You ever hear about getting more men in female dominated fields? No." is not true. –  Pops Aug 23 '10 at 14:21
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When was the last time you heard, there are so many women in the fashion industry its so unfair to the men. Maybe we should change the way the industry works. How many support groups can you name for particular industries that focus on specifically men getting into that industry? –  DMin Aug 23 '10 at 18:46
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Women in reverse-sexist glasses are sexy! –  Shogging through the snow Oct 4 '10 at 18:10
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Firstly: an extremely quick google gave me: forums.thefashionspot.com/f90/… I'm guessing if I actually went looking, there'd be more. Just because you haven't heard of them doesn't mean they don't exist. Secondly: apparently the fashion industry actually is dominated by men (when looking at the people that actually build and drive the fashion industry, not the consumers). –  Taryn East Jun 22 '12 at 23:29

I think that this question suffers from a hidden premise, and I wish it would just go away.

Assume, for the moment, that the unproven factual assertion at the core of the question is true: that women are underrepresented here.

The unspoken assumption is that this is necessarily a bad thing, in need of a remedy. A further assumption is that discussion here is a useful way to achieve a remedy.

To make the jump from 'women are underrepresented' to 'this is a bad thing,' there's a critical missing data set: an understanding of why women are underrepresented. (Perhaps needless to say, this understanding would be essential to any attempt to change the situation.)

You cannot possibly get an answer to the why question here. Who is here? Guys, women who choose to show up, and for all we know 25 agents of the Jovian secret service, tapping into satellite links. Who isn't here? The women who choose not to be here. And those women are the only people who can shed any light on their motivations. All the comments, answers, and comments on answers here are just guesses.

If someone managed to collect a representative sample of women in the profession, and ask them, the predominant answer might be, 'meh, games don't appeal to me.' Or, contrarywise, it might be 'I see too much sexist behavior here, it doesn't feel safe.'

The response of the management and community would be, I hope, dramatically different.

Absent this information, this question floats in a vacuum, attracting dumb jokes and well-intentioned speculation. Any time spent here could be better spent flagging actual instances of antisocial behavior.

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When I was at university the Students' Union distributed a very lengthy questionnaire on apathy, designed to find out why people weren't getting involved with the SU. I haven't gotten over the irony of it yet, decades later. At the meeting: "Well, we've had a disappointingly low response to our apathy questionnaire.". –  AndrewC Feb 20 at 15:29

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