Study Says Facebook Biased Against Female Engineers

An internal study conducted at Facebook has revealed that the social media giant’s female engineers regularly encounter gender bias in their work leading to their code getting rejected at a higher rate than that of their male counterparts. On average, female engineers at Facebook got 35% more rejections than men according to the study. They also had to wait 3.9% longer before their code could be accepted and received 8.2% more questions and comments.

The study which was conducted by a former female engineer at the firm led to Facebook commissioning a second study which was carried out by Jay Parikh, the social media giant’s infrastructure head. Unlike the first study which suggested that female coders were discriminated against on the basis of their gender, the new study showed that the rate of rejection was based on the engineering rank rather than being female or male.

Dearth of female engineers

This has led to the conclusion that female engineers are not getting promoted as fast as the male engineers. It could also suggest that female engineers are departing the firm before they can get promoted.

Both studies are likely to place additional pressure on Facebook as it tries to become a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Currently, the workforce of the social media platform is 33% female. In technical roles, women occupy only 17% of the positions while they hold 27% of leadership roles at Facebook.

After the results of the first study were revealed, Facebook defended itself saying that the survey was inaccurate and incomplete. The Palo Alto, California-based tech giant, however, admitted the findings of the second study saying that the dearth of female engineers was not just a problem at Facebook but also the whole industry.

Counterproductive to hiring

Despite admitting that women were disproportionately represented in its engineering department, Facebook has also lashed out at the leaking of the studies saying that they were counterproductive in the company’s efforts to improve diversity. This is because the leaks might end up discouraging women from pursuing an engineering career at Facebook rather than encouraging them since the stories painted the company negatively.

Discrimination against women in the tech industry is, however, not a new issue. A study conducted on GitHub, an open source repository, discovered that code authored by women had higher chances of getting the approval of fellow coders than that authored by male coders once the coders concealed their gender identities. But in instances where female coders had profiles which made it easy for them to be categorized, they encountered more rejections than was the case with the male coders.

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