Programming Languages Favored by Women Developers

HackerRank’s new survey of women developers reveals quite a bit, including which programming languages they know best. Java topped that list, with over 60 percent of women developers professing knowledge, followed by JavaScript, C, and C++, with Python rounding out the top five.

“Newer” programming languages such as Swift and Go lingered near the bottom of the list. This seems logical; the developer audience for new languages tends to be small and specialized, only growing if a particular language begins to enjoy widespread adoption—something that can take years, if not decades. HackerRank also points out that Java, JavaScript, C, C++, and Python are “the exact same languages that are most in-demand for roles across front-end, back-end, and full-stack,” so it seems logical that the majority of women developers know them.

In fact, a previous study by HackerRank suggested that younger developers of all genders prefer “old school” languages such as Python, C, C++, Java, and JavaScript—all of which are in heavy rotation within the universities and bootcamps where many developers first learn their stuff. Only as they get older do developers begin to gravitate toward newer languages such as Swift and Kotlin, which offer more streamlined ways to accomplish operations these experienced tech pros already know by heart.

Although women developers are working on all parts of the tech stack, they’re more likely to end up in junior positions relative to men, even when age is taken into account. “Women over 35 are 3.5x more likely to be in junior positions than men,” read the report accompanying the survey. “Although it’s not clear when these women started their careers, it is interesting that either women are starting their careers relatively later in life or are, generally, stuck in junior positions.”

Fortunately, many tech firms are attempting to diversify their employee ranks (and give more opportunities for advancement) via a variety of programs and initiatives, including retooled interviewing processes and “listening groups.” Despite those efforts, though, it often takes years for companies’ employee pools to become more varied.

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