Contemporary software engineering faces a critical challenge in diversity and inclusion, as the number of women and underrepresented groups in the industry remains alarmingly low. Despite the widespread use of software by people from all walks of life, it is still largely crafted by a minority of developers. This lack of representation in the software development process may result in missing important perspectives and creating an unequal user experience.
To build truly inclusive software that serves everyone, it is crucial to bring diversity to the forefront of software engineering. By incorporating the perspectives and experiences of underrepresented professionals, software teams can create innovative solutions and build “software for all”.
Women are vastly underrepresented in the STEM field, and software engineering is no exception. In a groundbreaking collaboration with Klaas-Jan Stol, we conducted a comprehensive study of over 500 software engineers to assess their personality traits. Utilizing Bayesian statistical approaches and network analysis, we analyzed the differences in traits between self-identified men and women in the field.
Our research sheds light on the unique personality traits of women in STEM and offers valuable insights for building a more diverse and inclusive environment. By understanding these differences, we aim to drive positive change in the industry and pave the way for greater representation of women in software engineering.
When it comes to software development, there are clear personality differences between men and women, which can have a significant impact on the way work is performed and interactions occur within a team. This was the conclusion of a recent study, which analyzed the personality traits of male and female software professionals. Here, we will delve into the key findings of the study and discuss the implications for research and practice.
The study found that women software engineers scored higher in Honesty-Humility, which is highly related to work performance. People with this trait tend to be aware of their limitations, have a good understanding of their role, and exhibit a high level of commitment, making them valuable assets to software teams. On the other hand, men scored higher on the Dark Triad traits, particularly psychopathy, which can have a negative impact on team performance.
Additionally, the study found that women scored higher in Emotionality and Openness to Experience, both of which can have a positive and negative impact on team performance. While a high level of emotionality can decrease a team’s cohesion and performance, women’s higher levels of Openness to Experience may mitigate these adverse effects, leading teams to be more creative and receptive.
The study also concluded that mixed-gender teams are likely to perform better than non-mixed teams, as both men and women exhibit positive and negative traits linked to teaming. Furthermore, the study identified that software professionals who score high in extraversion are the best candidates to become organizational change agents or champions. For specific roles, men with high Honesty-Humility scores or women with high Agreeableness scores would be ideal candidates.
In conclusion, the results of the study provide valuable insights into the importance of personality traits in software development teams. By understanding these differences, organizations can leverage specific traits to drive organizational change and achieve better outcomes. Whether it’s implementing new practices, processes, or tools, the key to success lies in identifying the right champions and evangelists who possess the necessary traits to drive change and inspire others.
Individual job performance
Women have higher Honesty-Humility personality trait, which is a strong predictor of job performance, compared to men
Including women in software teams increases team performance and decreases workplace delinquency such as absenteeism and alcohol abuse
Men are emotionally more stable but have higher psychopathic traits than women, which score higher in Openness to Experience
As both men and women exhibit negative and positive traits linked to teaming, mixed-gender teams will perform better than non-mixed teams
Extraversion has the average shortest paths between the other traits. The paths to pass through Extraversion are shorter than other traits, and it is also easier to pass from the other traits to Extraversion
Extrovert employees are best suited to drive long-term, organization-wide transformation processes
Honest-Humility better predicts the direct impact of one node to the entire network and is the most central node within the network
Software professionals who score high on the Honest-Humility personality trait are best suited to conduct pilot evaluations of new practices and tools.
Management of complexity
Women have more relations between the traits, with respect to men. More nodes spread information to others than men’s
Women software engineers can deal better with complex social tasks, especially in relation to people