Coming from a background in IT recruiting, I found Stack Overflow’s recent survey concerning their developer community fascinating. I am a keen learner, but I’ll admit my perception of the developer market is driven primarily by what my clients want. This means it is sometimes biased by the needs and skills they’re seeking, so it was great to adopt a new perspective and read about the market from the developers’ standpoint, and it’s incredibly useful to understand the current trends not just in technologies but also the motivating factors for candidates. And while the survey showed many positive trends, it also demonstrated that even in an industry as fast-paced as IT, important subjects are still being left lagging behind.

My first point concerns the ‘popularity contest’ inherent in the tech industry. It was interesting to see not only what developers are working with at the moment, but what upcoming tech they wanted to begin working with, which helps give us a sense of the industry’s shifting sands. Seeing the popularity of programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, TypeScript and Go wasn’t particularly shocking, nor was the absence of Ada, but I’d never even heard of Kotlin or Julia, so seeing them in the top 10 was quite surprising

It was gratifying to see the topics I’d discussed with developers ring true in the survey. Salary was typically the deciding factor for those seeking their next role, but with that removed from the equation, the next most important was working with new tech. For a recruiter, this highlights the importance of discussing with prospective candidates what they truly want to work on, not just what they have worked on. It’ll make all the difference when they are looking for their next challenge.

However, there was some variation between genders in the survey responses. For men, new and exciting tech held the deciding factor when it comes to a new role, but for both women and non-binary respondents, they deemed the office environment and culture just as crucial as salary.

One thing was clear when looking at this data – only 8% of respondents were women. This either suggests that women don’t like surveys, or the much more likely case of them being significantly underrepresented in the industry. After some LinkedIn analysis, I found that women make up no more than 32% of the industry when comparing the top 10 developer locations globally, using a 4.5million sample size. The situation is even worse in the UK, where the number sits between 10 and 17 per cent! Unfortunately, it’s no secret that there is a sizeable gender gap in IT, and while the topic is being discussed more and more, there is clearly still a long way to go towards equal gender representation.

In recent years, and especially since Brexit, there has been a strong surge of interest in the UK’s IT sector. This is obviously an tremendous, positive trend to see, but until female and non-binary workers feel welcomed and included in the industry, and are actively encouraged to pursue it, we still have a lot of work to do before we can confidently lead the way.

If, like us, you are passionate about working towards bridging the gender gap in IT, you may find the below article of interest, as it outlines the steps towards attracting and retaining female talent in the sector, as well as offering some additional key insights into why the current percentage of female tech employees is so low and why people are sometimes hesitant about getting involved.

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