- Coder, Where Are You?
- Aging Gracefully
- The Gender Gap Narrows
- Wild Horses vs. University-Trained
- The Best Technology for Development
For two weeks in February, Stack Overflow polled its users, asking them almost 50 questions on subjects ranging from gender to job satisfaction, from coffee consumption to preferences for tabs or spaces. More than 26,000 coders from over 150 nations completed the survey. The result is perhaps the most thorough report on developer preferences and work lives that has ever been published.
Here are highlights specific to the demographic questions.
Bear in mind as you read these results that they are geographically biased, since Stack Overflow is more popular in certain countries than others.
Coder, Where Are You?
The top countries of poll participants are:
- United States – 4745 respondents
- India – 2461 respondents
- United Kingdom – 2402 respondents
- Germany – 1976 respondents
- Poland – 833 respondents
- Canada – 828 respondents
Those total figures are based in part on population, though. Per capita, the top development countries – listed as coders for every 1000 people – are:
- Luxembourg – 39.8
- Iceland – 35.0
- Sweden – 35.0
- Israel – 33.4
- Finland – 33.0
- Singapore – 31.7
How old are developers? Well, many are just a few years out of college (or high school). “At the time of this writing, the average developer is 28.9 years old,” explains the report. “He or she was born in April 1986, just as IBM manufactured the first megabit chip.”
Top age brackets are as follows:
- 25-29 years old – 28.5%
- 20-24 years old – 24.5%
- 30-34 years old – 17.8%
- 35-39 years old – 9.1%
- Under 20 years old – 8.8%
- 40-50 years old – 7.6%
Where is the youth of development the most pronounced? Here is the average age of developers in the top six respondent countries:
- India – 25.0 years old
- Poland – 26.7 years old
- Germany – 29.0 years old
- United Kingdom – 30.3 years old
- Canada – 30.3 years old
- United States – 31.6 years old
The Gender Gap Narrows
Are there any women developing software? Not many. Gender results were as follows:
- Men – 92.1%
- Women – 5.8%
Clearly programming is lopsided toward the men, as anyone who has ever attended any tech convention can confirm. “Our internal stats suggest the imbalance isn’t quite as severe as the survey results would make it seem,” says Stack Overflow, “but there’s no doubt everyone who codes needs to be more proactive welcoming women into the field.”
We can actually better understand the current status of the gender gap by looking at experience in general vs. experience specifically of women. Top experience categories for the broad developer population are:
- 2-5 years – 32.4%
- 11+ years – 24.2%
- 6-10 years – 23.2%
- 1-2 years – 13.6%
- Under a year – 6.6%
This data makes sense given the incredibly fast expansion of the development industry. It becomes more obvious how inexperienced the typical developer is when you compare to another occupation. “In the United States, nearly 40% of doctors have 10+ years of professional experience,” says the report. “By contrast, only about 25% of developers worldwide have more than 10 years coding experience.”
Now let’s contrast that against the women’s experience:
- Under two years – 37.1%
- 2-5 years – 30.1%
- 6-10 years – 15.1%
- 11+ years – 9.5%
As you can see, the extent of inexperience is much more dramatic for women – and that’s a good thing. It suggests that more women are becoming developers, creating a better gender balance.
Where are the women? The top three nations for women programmers are:
- India – 15.1%
- United States – 4.8%
- Sweden – 2.3%
Wild Horses vs. University-Trained
The numbers on academic background underscore the similarities between development, art, and entrepreneurialism. As in those other fields, schooling is helpful but optional for coders. Top educational backgrounds are:
- Self-trained – 41.8%
- Computer science bachelor’s degree – 37.7%
- Acquired skills on the job – 36.7%
- Computer science master’s degree – 18.4%
- Online training – 17.8%
- Partial college completion – 16.7%
In other words, the way that people pick up their programming knowledge is diverse. Incredibly, a third of developers (33%) haven’t completed any college courses in computer science, while almost half (48%) lack a CS degree. “System administrators are most likely to be self-taught (52%),” says Stack Overflow, while “[m]achine learning developers and data scientists are 10 times more likely than any other developer type to have a PhD (15%).”
The Best Technology for Development
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