A lecturer at University College Cork (UCC) is among a research team which has found that mixed-gender software development teams perform better than male-only teams.
Researchers at the Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, surveyed 483 software engineers pre-screened for competency and found that female developers help offset psychopathic traits of some male developers and that women improved team performance and reduced workplace delinquency, such as absenteeism and alcohol abuse.
Their study ‘Gender Differences in Personality Traits of Software Engineers’ is the first scholarly research that investigates objective reasons for a better gender balance in the IT world.
Lero’s Dr Klaas-Jan Stol, a lecturer at UCC and Dr Daniel Russo of the University of Aalborg in Denmark, said their research suggests that women score significantly higher in openness to experience, honesty-humility, and emotionality than men, while men show higher psychopathic traits than women.
“Companies should recruit more women to their development teams not only for obvious ethical reasons but because this will improve performance. Indeed, women software engineers significantly differ from men in terms of personality traits, which are related to higher job performance, ethics, and creativity.
Men, despite having lower scores on emotionality, exhibit higher scores on the psychopathy trait, which may lead to a reduced level of team performance.
Dr Russo and Dr Stol said it is clear from these studies that gender plays a critical role in effective software development in corporate teams and open source communities, but said that women are underrepresented in STEM jobs.
The researchers used their findings to develop a number of proposals that can enable software teams to perform better and aid future research.
Including women in software teams increases team performance and decreases workplace delinquency such as absenteeism and alcohol abuse.
"As both men and women exhibit negative and positive traits linked to teaming, mixed-gender teams will perform better than non-mixed teams,” they explained.
Dr Russo said that their research also found that extroverted employees “are best suited to drive long-term, organisation-wide transformation processes” and that women software engineers “can deal better with complex social tasks, especially in relation to people”.