[R] Gender balance in R

Rainer M Krug Rainer at krugs.de
Tue Nov 25 10:15:57 CET 2014

Sarah Goslee <sarah.goslee at gmail.com> writes:

> I took a look at apparent gender among list participants a few years ago:
> https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/2011-June/280272.html
> Same general thing: very few regular participants on the list were
> women. I don't see any sign that that has changed in the last three
> years. The bar to participation in the R-help list is much, much lower
> than that to become a developer.
> It would be interesting to look at the stats for CRAN packages as well.
> The very low percentage of regular female participants is one of the
> things that keeps me active on this list: to demonstrate that it's not
> only men who use R and participate in the community.

Apart from that, your input is very valuable and your answers very
hands-on helpful - and this is why I am glad that you are on the list -
and not because you are female.

Looking at R developers / CRAN package developers / list posts gender ratios might be
interesting, but I don't think it tells you anything: If there is a
skewed ratio in any of these, the question is if this is the gender
ratio in the user base and, more importantly, in the pool of potential

I have no idea about the gender ratios in potential users, but I would
guess that some disciplines already have a skewed gender ratio, which is
then reflected in R.

The gender ratio in R should reflect the gender ratio of the potential
users, as this is the pool the R users / developers are coming from.

As long as nobody is excluded because of their gender, background, hair
or eye color, OS usage, or whatever ridiculous excuse one could find, I
think R will thrive.
Don't get me wring - nothing against promoting R to new user groups.

But anyway - interesting question.

I was teaching True Basic for several years, and I definitely did not
see a gender bias in their programming abilities - the differences was
in many cases that males thought they could do it, and females thought
they could not do it because it involves maths... But I was able to
prove quite a few wrong.



> (If you decide to do the stats for 2014, be aware that I've been out
> on medical leave for the past two months, so the numbers are even
> lower than usual.)
> Sarah
> On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM, Maarten Blaauw
> <maarten.blaauw at qub.ac.uk> wrote:
>> Hi there,
>> I can't help to notice that the gender balance among R developers and
>> ordinary members is extremely skewed (as it is with open source software in
>> general).
>> Have a look at http://www.r-project.org/foundation/memberlist.html - at most
>> a handful of women are listed among the 'supporting members', and none at
>> all among the 29 'ordinary members'.
>> On the other hand I personally know many happy R users of both genders.
>> My questions are thus: Should R developers (and users) be worried that the
>> 'other half' is excluded? If so, how could female R users/developers be
>> persuaded to become more visible (e.g. added as supporting or ordinary
>> members)?
>> Thanks,
>> Maarten

Rainer M. Krug
email: Rainer<at>krugs<dot>de
PGP: 0x0F52F982
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