by Sharon Florentine

Where in the world are the women software developers?

News Analysis
Sep 14, 2018

India, the UAE, Romania, China, Sri Lanka, and Italy have the highest percentage of women software developers, while in the EU, Bulgaria has the most women in tech.

Back in 2017, I wrote about HackerRank’s research on which countries were home to the most skilled women developers. HackerRank doesn’t gather data on their approximately 2 million users’ sex or gender, so they had to do some guesswork based on users’ first names; they also excluded unisex names like Taylor or Riley, which could skew the data somewhat. Their final data pool encompassed about 80 percent of their total user base.

According to that research, HackerRank estimated that 17 percent of its users are women overall. But by narrowing the data set just to 2016, they found that 24 percent of users that year were women.

They also found that India, the United Arab Emirates, Romania, China, Sri Lanka, and Italy are the six countries with the highest percentage of women developers. It’s interesting that Asia and Eastern Europe were so highly represented —the only Western European country in the top 10 was Italy. The U.S. came in at number 11. Could it be that these countries invest more in STEM education, or that there are different cultural norms around women in technology?

The research also found that developers from Russia, Italy, Poland, China, France, and Romania scored the highest on algorithms challenges, which involve, for example, searching for keywords, sorting data and dynamic programming, among others. A coincidence that Russian developers (regardless of sex or gender) score highest in this area, considering Russia’s rise as a cyber power? Or further proof that the country understands the power of software and how to compete in a digital era?

You can see HackerRank’s full results here.

The EU country with the most women in tech: Bulgaria

I was reminded of this research when I read an interesting piece in Ozy. According to the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, Bulgaria has the highest percentage of women in tech of any country in the EU’s 28-member bloc. Women there make up 26.5 percent of information and communications technology professionals (and leads the EU in number of women enrolled in ICT education with 33 percent). By contrast, the average across the rest of the EU is 17.5 percent. In the U.S., women hold 26 percent of computing and math-related jobs.

It could be because of the country’s communist history, social and cultural differences in women’s expected roles, and/or greater representation of women in the field.

“In Bulgaria there are many female role models that are encouraging the next generation of women to choose careers in the computer industries — in a way, the prejudices that exist in the majority of countries are less in Bulgaria,” says Sasha Bezuhanova, a tech industry veteran, in the article.

Perhaps Silicon Valley should take note.