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Programming Software Stats

The Changing Face of Software Development 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the strength-through-diversity dept.
CowboyRobot sends this excerpt from Dr. Dobb's: "Ten years of surveys show an influx of younger developers, more women, and personality profiles at odds with traditional stereotypes. Software development is an art and a science that is not attainable for just anyone. It takes a special type of person to write code. Developers are detail-oriented, very literal, and intelligent. Logic is paramount, and they share a passion for their craft that rises above the desire to make more money. They are also typically married, middle-aged, have children, and most likely a mortgage. In one of a series of surveys that we've performed every six months since 2001 (interviewing each time more than 1400 developers worldwide), we find the typical developer is a married, middle-aged male, who has two to three children. Males have dominated the profession for as long we've been tracking this; and during that time, they have accounted for anywhere from 84% to 94% of the workforce. The number of male developers is currently close to the low, at 86%, which might indicate more females are taking up programming."
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The Changing Face of Software Development

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  • by mutube (981006)

    The number of male developers is currently close to the low, at 86%, which might indicate more females are taking up programming.

    What else would it indicate?

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      More males than females leaving the profession. I don't think that is what happening, but you asked what else could account for the shift.
      • It could also mean that the 84% was very recent, but now less females are taking up programming, or more are leaving.

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          With census data and a wide set of job descriptions you could chart back to the ~1950's?
      • by jrumney (197329)

        With the average age being so counter-intuitively high, it could well be the truth.

    • by khr (708262)

      What else would it indicate?

      More computer generated code?

    • It could also indicate that the survey is deeply flawed.

  • Females? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ragzouken (943900) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:19AM (#45012499)

    Can we stop saying "females" when we mean "women". We're not Ferengi.

    • Re:Females? (Score:5, Funny)

      by petes_PoV (912422) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:29AM (#45012555)

      "females"

      I think the point is that not all developers are human (male or female).

    • We need a BBC Wildlife style study of the Software Developer narrated by David Attenborough so that we can start legitimately referring to the gender of this species as "male" and "female" accordingly.
    • by claar (126368)

      The summary is talking about survey results, and uses both "male" and "female" equally, which are common language in surveys.

      Please women -- we'd love to have more of you in our industry, but claiming gender insensitivity where there is none truly just makes men afraid to even interact with you, lest they be labelled misogynist and slammed all over social media.

      Of course, we have miles to go when it comes to better respecting women in technology; but the article summary isn't one of them.

    • Re:Females? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dcw3 (649211) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:51AM (#45012729) Journal

      Can we stop saying "females" when we mean "women". We're not Ferengi.

      Do you find it offensive? I remember being in a college class back in the 80s where our feminist professor informed us that the word "lady" was offensive. Personally, I follow George Carlin's view...words are not offensive. I swear people as so thin skinned these days.

      • It's not offensive, but it sounds strange in normal conversation. Unless of course you regularly refer to men and women as male and female.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I think are morons because once some unspecified person who I think represents them told me something stupid.

        I can't believe people get modded up for using this argument on Slashdot.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I think [group] are morons because once some unspecified person who I think represents them told me something stupid.

          I can't believe people get modded up for using this argument on Slashdot.

          (re-posting due to stupid HTML tags)

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        However, these types are the ones who are most likely to attempt some bullshit to reaffirm minority interests and cultures - so just tell her that "yo bitch" is the predominant means of addressing women in your cultural environment and she should be good with that. :-)

      • by Ravaldy (2621787)

        Don't dare using retard. I though they called them special now?

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        "Men and females" would be bizarre. "Males ane females" is normal. Because the article uses both "male" and "female" it doesn't sound wrong.

        Otherwise... Could you stop calling us "males"? We're not just human captives for your ape society.

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      In traditional use, "man", "men", and "mankind" were gender-neutral. We would do well to shrug off the insanity of feminist demands and to return to that simpler tradition in our language.

      • by Empiric (675968)

        I had a philosophy professor who had a whole set of genderless pronouns ready-to-go, of which I remember only the genderless possessive "hir".

        Fortunately, his idea has yet to go mainstream.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Once you have their code, you never credit it back.
      She can touch your gui, but never your code.
      Beware of female social engineering for your admin privileges.
    • Basically I agree with you, but "female" is better here. Many Slashdotters are familiar with the biological concept of "female", but are unfamiliar with the concept of "women".

    • Just so long they don't where clothes. That is the ultimate depravity.
    • by hackula (2596247)
      Silence HuMON!
    • I think the word "female" was used because this was a study. The colder clinical word is more appropriate here because the researcher is detached from the subjects.
  • Men and women simply bring different biases to programming just make sure it's being tested by a thirds party that's all!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:21AM (#45012511)

    And the others put "Yes, please" in the box marked "Sex".

  • Dr Dobbs? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Total garbage magazine now. I equate it to something like "People" magazine and "US" magazine. Poor writing and fluff. Last I looked they loved kissing Microsoft's a$$ as well. Back in the day when grownups used to run it, it was the shizzle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:26AM (#45012539)

    In my experience, 70% of female programmers sucks. Contrast this with the 30% of good male programmers.

    • by kwerle (39371)

      You're seeing that many good programmers?

      Where?

  • Very literal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ErnoWindt (301103) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:30AM (#45012561)

    I really have to take issue with the "very literal" comment. In my experience (stretching over 20 years), it's the non-literal types who are the best software engineers. They not only have an imagination, but understand nuance as well. I'd say a literal-minded person might succeed at programming at a very low or entry level, but beyond that, it's imagination and creativity that win the day.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:48AM (#45012695)

      I really have to take issue with the "very literal" comment.

      I think you're taking the statement too literally.

      • Perhaps you're taking the GP too literally. Is it necessary to be literal about a statement about how literal some group is? Your turn - I want to get at least a 3rd "literal" into that statement.

      • by Xyrus (755017)

        No you're just being a tree-hugging hippy literal. If it wasn't for all these literal activists our government wouldn't be shut down. Screw you and you literal agenda.

    • Well I know an exceedingly smart excellent programmer I would not call him imaginative, more like batcrap crazy. Never ask him what he did over the weekend, unless you are really ready for it. {These are some of the cool ones that didn't involve something breaking, catching fire, or exploding}

      Gutted a RC truck and a weed eater to make a RC mower with nylon blades. {it actually works well, I want him to make me one}
      Gutted a Ms. Pacman arcade game and put it in a glass table...
      Repainted the arcade game chasis

    • You're arguing along an orthogonal axis. Programmers need to be able to operate and think very literally, otherwise we'd never understand what the computer would do, but that does not preclude creativity or having room for an imagination as well. The summary was poorly worded and you're absolutely correct in saying that the best problem solvers are the ones who have some creativity and imagination to leverage. Without those, you're left with only being literal-minded, and that won't get you far.

  • Introverts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:32AM (#45012575)
    Toward the end, TFA says:

    They think of themselves, quite rightly, as being more logical than intuitive, but they also think of themselves as being moderately extroverted

    I wonder how much of that is simply due to the stigma associated with the word "introvert."

    I'm an introvert. Far to the introvert side on the Meyers-Briggs test: 18/20 if memory serves. When I tell acquaintances this, they're shocked. "Oh no!" they exclaim, "You're not like that at all!"

    What that suggests to me is that mainstream society has a very poor understanding [carlkingdom.com] of what an introvert is. Extraverts don't understand introverts -- and they don't have to, since about 70% of the general population is extraverted -- so there's part of the problem. Because of the stereotype (or, as I say, "stigma"), asking people to self-identify as introverts is a fool's errand. No one wants to be *that.*

    So "moderate extravert" could very well mean "introvert who does not know the technical definition and does not accept the stereotype."

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Just so you know the Meyers-Briggs test is nothing more than modern phrenology. When you mention that to folks they either don't know what it is or think you are a crackpot.

      • I should have expected that mentioning Myers-Briggs would have opened the can of worms about its validity and the whole subject of psychometry. Since I'm not a psychologist, I cannot participate too deeply in that discussion. If you want to classify the Myers-Briggs (sorry, I misspelled it originally) as cargo cult science [lhup.edu], I will not argue against you.

        Even poor science can include accurate measurements, though. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

        In 1991, the National Academy of Sciences committee reviewed data from MBTI resea

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Just because we do not have a better test does not make this tests results anymore valid.

          If you want evidence you are an introvert, you don't need a test you are already convinced. THAT IS NOT HOW SCIENCE WORKS.

          • by SirGarlon (845873)

            No, how science works is that first you rigorously define what an introvert is, then you carefully design a test to determine if a person fits that definition, where "carefully" includes statistical analysis and peer review. Then you have someone take the test, and when the results come in, you classify the person accordingly.

            How do you imagine I found out I'm an introvert?

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              By taking a pseudo-scientific survey. Now you want another test that confirms this. What if we had a test that was better in all measurable ways but classified you as an extrovert?

              These classifications are about as realistic as breaking people up by age group or any other random thing. It cannot cope with people who are more fluid or do not fit its artificial categories.

              • by SirGarlon (845873)

                These classifications are about as realistic as breaking people up by age group or any other random thing.

                Isn't that what TFA is all about?

              • I worry about your use of the word artificial here. That could lead some to think that they are never valuable for reasoning and cannot be reasoned with, when in fact some of these things must be reasoned with.
                • by h4rr4r (612664)

                  Can you elaborate?

                  I don't believe these groups are that useful for psychology purposes. I don't think you can say all men are big hunters and the introverts hunt smaller game.

                  You surely can say people over the age of 80 are more likely to be old than the general population. Attempting to speculate about these groups is generally pointless.

    • Re:Introverts (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bigbutt (65939) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:07AM (#45012855) Homepage Journal

      It's true. Until a couple of years ago when I attended an Insights class provided by work, I thought Introvert == Loner. Since I'm somewhat social, I couldn't understand how I could be an 18/20 Introvert and be social. When it was explained that it just meant I gain energy by being away from people, it made a lot more sense. I don't mind going around and chatting, but I get tired and even a headache when I associate with folks more than a few hours or if I'm in a crowded room (like a game store during a Magic tournament :) ).

      [John]

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      They think of themselves, quite rightly, as being more logical than intuitive, but they also think of themselves as being moderately extroverted

      I wonder how much of that is simply due to the stigma associated with the word "introvert."

      ... since about 70% of the general population is extraverted...

      ... it's highly credible that they're right and that the stereotype of the introverted programmer is largely inaccurate.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        Absolutely. My point is that a survey asking people to self-identify as introverts should not be considered conclusive because of the possibility the respondents are biased. That is, I think the survey would give the same result whether the stereotype of introverted programmers were true or not.

        I submit the hypothesis that certain careers are attractive to introverts (and others are attractive to extraverts) so the distribution of introverts/extraverts in certain careers is likely to be different than that

    • by curunir (98273) *

      There's an excellent TED talk [ted.com] on what it means to be introverted and society's lack of understanding on the topic. For anyone who's introverted, interacts with introverted people or generally doesn't understand introversion, it's a good use of 20 minutes.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I can definitely imagine the extraverts doing this, offering to take the interverts out to parties or constantly introducing them to new people.
      These are like the same people who say "You don't like brussel's sprouts? You just haven't had it prepared correctly!"

  • Surprise! A significant number of the young hotshot kids that started in the field when it was booming are still at it and now they are approaching middle age and having children. I know we have a reputation, but we do actually form committed relationships and even have sex every once in a while.
  • and they share a passion for their craft that rises above the desire to make more money

    Yes, I like quality work and good coworkers, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to happily accept pay below what I have good reason to believe I'm worth. But thanks to rhetoric and belief that I will, that changes what the markets will bear, even while companies are complaining about a shortage of developers.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Umm, no. It means if you treat them like shit or underpay them, they'll keep right on programming, but it won't be for you.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I'll work on my own projects at home for free, but I'll be damned if I do my employer's projects for free!

  • "Male dominance near historic lows" isn't the most interesting takeaway. What's more interesting is that the 2008 global financial crisis shook loose GenX'ers in the U.S., but nowhere else in the world. Sure, we can say the GFC rid the industry of the dot-com charlatans, but the housing bubble was global due to the network and interdependency of central banks -- why wasn't the same effect observed across the world? I suspect that perhaps the low interest rates and housing bubbles in other countries did not

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:40AM (#45013137)

    I don't think we should be fighting the battle of sexist stereotypes by constantly complaining we don't have enough women in IT, or we don't have enough men in day care centers. If someone wants to get into a profession, by all means they should be allowed to pursue that the same as anyone else. Same goes for race. Until people as a culture are truly able to absolve their 'isms all of these "OMG Think of teh ________" campaigns are just a bunch of intellectual masturbation because the root problem still exists. And worrying about it is just another form of sexism, only in reverse. Oftentimes, these campaigns end up tipping the scale in the other direction, marginalizing the prior majority which is *also* wrong (How many places care about health care costs for single males?) I don't see anything wrong with having professions largely dominated by the stereotypical stereotypes. Sometimes they are that way because men are men, and women are women. People should be allowed to choose without the fear of some cultural 'ism pushing them down and that's the core problem as I see it.

    • I agree we shouldn't waste time whining about gender "discrimination" (at least until it is provably discriminatory).
      There are two pertinent facts here:
      Social fact: There is a severe gender discrimination in the US prison population--it is mostly men--but we don't see anyone clamoring to solve that problem.
      Biological fact: Genes make people different and the more different a gene is, the more differences there will be. PERIOD.
      Go look at at the differences between the X and Y chromosomes. They aren't eve
    • Nothing is necessarily wrong with a gender-dominated profession, but I do want to know why it's gender-dominated. There's all sorts of reasons why it could happen, and we've found discrimination in a lot of fields. In this one, I've seen a lot of credible reports from women about hostile workplaces and the like, so I have reason to suspect discrimination.

  • Want to have at least some idea of parity in IT? It could be done, but you have to tackle the negative social stigma that women face when dating someone that is in IT.

    There is a backlash in the US against women that date someone that can be perceived as a geek / nerd. Since women are typically more socially oriented then men this is a really big deal for them. I have known and been friends with a number of women in IT over the years and invariably almost all of them were geeks / nerds or immigrants to begin

    • Re:Stereotypes in IT (Score:4, Informative)

      by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:36AM (#45014597)

      That can't be changed, because it's part of America's culture and Americans' hatred of intellectualism. Culture can be changed, but only when there's a strong push to do so, like with gay rights where a minority shames the majority into changing its ways by pointing out their immorality. That's not going to happen with geeks, because they're generally well-paid and they're not forced into that profession by birth, so they're not seen as an oppressed group. A bunch of geeks having "geek pride" parades and complaining loudly that they don't get laid enough isn't going to be taken seriously. It'd be better for geeks to simply move to places where they're more accepted, and let the places they left suffer.

  • by Ronin Developer (67677) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:14AM (#45013547)

    Or, perhaps we middle-aged men are leaving the profession as a guaranteed living in the field is no longer a given.

    Yesterday, I received an email from an offshore "provider" who offers services at $10/hr. Most of us can't raise a family, pay a mortgage, let alone survive at that rate. The rate I have been billed out was $120-$160/hr. If people are just looking at the bottom per/hour line vs what a local agency or provider can give them for the added cost, it's pretty hard to compete.

    The new IT "normal" is that IT departments are manned by "disposable or transit" workers. This is not how we "grew up" in the industry - we were valued for what we brought not only to a "project" but to the company as a whole. Companies felt their employees were assets - there was a sense of "belonging" that made people proud to for their employer. Now, it's just a paycheck.

    While not exactly relics - those of us who have been around for a while are:

    1) Migrating into management roles.
    2) Becoming consultants (either independent or with an agency that pays benefits)
    3) Running our own companies.

    Younger individuals, with not as many responsibilities are moving into the developer ranks and cutting their teeth there. And, women, well many are finding that this field needn't be male dominated. Many see having this knowledge as a stepping stone to moving into project management or pre-sales. Rather smart, if you ask me.

  • Before the late 1940s "computers" referred to human clerks who did long chains of calculations by hand or adding machine. They were nearly all female except for supervisors. When the first electronic computers some of these ladies migrated to become the programmers. It was very tedious machine language in the beginning. The inventor of COBOL is from this crop.
  • Sigh... I remember a time when white heterosexuals males had all the power instead of most of it.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Really? When was this? I always thought it was the women who had all the power. The force behind the men. In recent years, women have been able to seize the power directly instead of through a man. Now the men are being left behind. It won't happen overnight, but it is happening.

      [John]

  • Of all the places I've worked at, I think a total of 5% was married. In several jobs all of my co-workers were single (regardless of age). And the max amount of children I've seen any other developer have, is ONE.

    Have I been working in extremely unusual places this last decade, or is this survey way off?

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