[R] Gender balance in R

Maarten Blaauw maarten.blaauw at qub.ac.uk
Tue Nov 25 11:15:48 CET 2014

Thanks for the responses so far.

 > 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.

I agree with this, but then again I don't think R really has 0% female 
users/developers as the R member list suggests. I'd rather expect to see 
10-50% women (my quick guess of gender balance in STEM areas, depending 
on where on the ladder and in which country one samples). Perhaps the R 
community should be assessing if there's some additional bias applied 
during the selection of supporting or ordinary members?



On 25/11/14 09:15, Rainer M Krug wrote:
> 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
> users.
> 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.
> Cheers,
> Rainer
>> (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

| Dr. Maarten Blaauw
| Lecturer in Chronology
| School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology
| Queen's University Belfast, UK
| www  http://www.chrono.qub.ac.uk/blaauw
| tel  +44 (0)28 9097 3895

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