Facebook faces backlash over alleged gender bias towards female engineers

Facebook faces backlash over alleged gender bias towards female engineers

Image: tuthelens / Shutterstock

In 2016, a female software engineer at Facebook analysed company data and found that 35 per cent of code written by women was rejected. 

The analysis also revealed women’s coding faced more scrutiny than men, with female coders waiting 3.9 per cent longer for code approval and receiving 8.2 per cent more comments and questions.

In response to the findings published by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook conducted its own internal review and found that rejection rates could be linked to the employee’s rank, not gender.  

The social media giant essentially argued that because there are not as many women in higher-ranked engineering roles, a widespread problem for the tech industry, their code is subject to more scrutiny. 

With women accounting for only 17 per cent of the company’s technical department, Facebook employees commented that it showed female engineers don’t get promoted at the same rate as their male colleagues.  

In a statement to The Verge, Facebook said: “As we have explained, The Wall Street Journal is relying on analysis that is incomplete and inaccurate — performed by a former Facebook engineer with an incomplete data set.

“Any meaningful discrepancy based on the complete data is clearly attributable not to gender but to seniority of the employee.

“In fact, the discrepancy simply reaffirms a challenge we have previously highlighted — the current representation of senior female engineers both at Facebook and across the industry is nowhere near where it needs to be.”

Head of human resources at Facebook Lori Goler said the allegations of gender bias towards female engineers would hurt its chances of recruiting more women.

She said: “A key factor in our ability to recruit more women in engineering is our recruiting brand. “Unfortunately, a story based on factually incorrect data that paints us in a negative light will almost certainly hurt our ability to attract more women, and it isn’t great for those of us working here, either. In other words, this moves us in the exact wrong direction.”



Leave a Comment