Facebook Inc (FB) Rejects Claims Of Bias Against Female Coders

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The Wall Street Journal claimed recently that Facebook Inc (FB) may have a problem with gender bias. Citing an analysis of a former employee, the news outlet stated that code by female engineers is rejected by the tech giant 35% more often than code by male engineers. However, the social networking site is rejecting the notion, terming it “incomplete and inaccurate.”

Facebook rejects claim of favoritism of male coders

“As we have explained, the Wall Street Journal is relying on analysis that is incomplete and inaccurate – performed by a former Facebook Inc (FB) engineer with an incomplete data set,” the company told TechCrunch in an email. The spokesperson added that any meaningful discrepancy based is certainly attributable to tje seniority of the employee and not to gender.

The tech company is reportedly telling its employees internally that leaking such information about it not only damages its “recruiting brand” but also makes it more difficult for it to hire women, notes The Guardian.

On Tuesday, The WSJ reported on an analysis by a woman who was a software engineer at the tech company. The analysis done by this anonymous woman, which was posted internally in September, reportedly revealed that female engineers waited 3.9% longer to get their code accepted and received 8.2% more questions and comments than male engineers. The WSJ stated that it was not able to verify the results of either study independently, nor was it able to assess the methodology.

The software engineer studied Facebook Inc (FB)’s code review process and looked at the amount of time it took for code to be accepted, the number of times the code was updated, comments and rejection, and demographic information about the coder, like length of employment and gender. The study was independently confirmed by The Guardian.

Rejections due to rank, not gender

The analysis came nearly four months before the 6,000-word manifesto by Facebook Inc (FB) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on developing “the social infrastructure” to build “a global community.” The tech company conducted a second study in response to the initial study. The second study, which was led by Jay Parikh, its head of infrastructure, found that the code rejections were due to the employee’s rank and not gender, notes CNET.

Facebook Inc (FB)’s point of view is that since not many women are in higher-ranked engineering roles, their code is subject to more scrutiny. Facebook Inc (FB)’s workforce is about 33% female, with over 17% of women accounting for technical roles.

On Tuesday, Lori Goler, head of human resources at Facebook Inc (FB), posted a confidential internal response (seen by The Guardian) to the report. Goler said that the social network was disappointed by several things related to this analysis, but mostly by the notion “that there might be anyone who is not having the experience we would want everyone at Facebook Inc (FB) to have.”

Last year, a study of coders on the open source repository GitHub found that code written by female engineers was actually more likely to be granted approval than code by men, but only if the female coders hid their gender, notes The Guardian.

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