Survey Shows Most Female Software Developers in 15 Years

Evans Data and IDC research shows the ranks of female software developers growing.

IT skills

A recent Evans Data study shows that there are more female software developers at work today than in the last 15 years.

Despite a relative paucity of women in technology, in particular those who code, the number of females in software development has more than doubled since first being measured in 2001, according to Evans Data's recently released Developer Marketing 2015 survey.

According to the Evans Data research, in 2015, 22.2 percent of software developers are women, or a little over 4 million female software developers worldwide. While today's number is strong compared with 2001, it is even stronger compared with the years of 2003 to 2009, when the percentage of female developers dipped into the single-digit range.

The survey of more than 430 software developers, which is now in its sixteenth year, also shows that today's female software developers tend to be younger than their male counterparts with a median age of 34, compared with the male median of 37.

"The population of female software developers has been steadily growing since the last recession," said Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, in a statement. "Women are starting to view technology as a profession with a very favorable future and are beginning to believe it's a world that's accessible to them. Of course, the demographic shift is also due to older males leaving the profession during the last recession."

The in-depth survey shows the demographics, psychographics and attitudes of professional software developers, providing a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent, an industry standard. The survey provides marketers with the information they need to successfully market to developers.

The Developer Marketing survey examines a wide array of areas that are integral to a developer marketing campaign. This includes demographics, psychographics, outreach, influencers, conferences and trade shows, online advertising, forming and maintaining a community, and more.

In addition to the growth in the number of women in software development, the Evans Data survey showed that the median age of today's developer is 36 years old, 75 percent are married, 41 percent have one to three children, 40 percent said they are driven by challenge, 54 percent have advanced degrees and 35 percent said they gained tech skills on the job.

"We wanted to write about this trend because it counters some of the assumptions people have about developer demographics—that they are all young, single men," said Lisa Beebe, director of client services at Evans Data. "Hopefully, developer relations professionals can use this information to more accurately market their programs to female developers. Women in technology and Silicon Valley business is a pretty hot topic right now, too."

In its own independent research, IDC produced data that shows similar progress for women in software development.

Generally the overall percentage of female developers range from 12 percent to 13 percent to between 20 percent and 25 percent, depending on the country and the type of the developer, said Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC.

In the United States, for example, the average incidence of female developers across all computer-related occupations is around 25 percent roughly, he said. This drops down to 20 percent for software developers—as opposed to systems administrators and other related professions. In other parts of the world, however, the incidence of female developers is generally much lower. Across European countries as a whole, for example, something like 15 percent of developers are female, Hilwa said.

"My understanding is that enrollment in CS [computer science] programs is generally trending positively for women, and so we expect this percentage to rise, not least of which because of more attention to this gap," he said.