Gender breakdown for software development in Ireland

This post was inspired by this TED talk from Sheryl Sandberg, which reminded me of this brilliant blog post by Jolie O’Dell. The whole women in tech thing is something which interests me (as a techie, as well as a human being), and there are loads of great discussions (and terrible ones) about it.

Have been trying to figure out a good way to get an idea of the size and gender breakdown of the somewhat nebulous software development community in Ireland. I’ve settled on LinkedIn as probably the best way to figure this out, Facebook appears to be useless for it (despite having that information). I want to compare these to the official numbers provided by government and other agencies to see how they measure up, though it involves a good few caveats.

These numbers are at least interesting to play around with. I suggest trying out LinkedIn’s DirectAds system yourself; don’t have to pay to get to the “targetting” stuff at step 2.

Currently, LinkedIn lists 416,030 people as working in Ireland. The National Skills Bulletin 2010 (pdf) states that there were 1.88 million people working in full or part time employment in Q4 2009. As that number has probably only gone down since then, I think LinkedIn has a pretty sizeable chunk of the workforce listed; maybe more than a quarter of the total, though probably a heavy bias towards networking-enabled industries with strong computer usage.

Of those listed on LinkedIn, 37,322 describe themselves as working in “Engineering” or “Information Technology” – two quite broad descriptions, both of which will include a portion of people who have absolutely nothing to do with software development. At this level, the breakdown is 28,387 male, 6,722 female. Looks to be about 2,213 who have not listed gender.

It gets tricky at this point – if you wish to breakdown by Industry, you’ve got a max of ten to choose from a list of hundreds, and techies work in almost every industry. To try and extract the main corpus of “software developers” from the Industry section, I did a quick poll of my own LinkedIn connections and chose: Computer Hardware, Computer Software, Computer Networking, Internet, Information Technology and Services, Computer & Network Security, Wireless, Online Media, Publishing and Information Services. I figure this cuts out most of the mechanical/bio/pharma engineers.

This gives me 13,080 people in total. The gender breakdown for this is 10,141 male, 2,148 female (791 unknown).

To see how these numbers match up with regular LinkedIn search (if I were looking for software people), I searched for people in Ireland with a couple of different keywords as their current job title. “Engineer” turned up 13,848 (24,446 including past jobs). “Systems Administrator” turned up 330 (997 including past jobs). “Developer” turned up 2,930 (6,414 including past jobs) – not sure how many of these might be “business developer, property developer” or similar, but the first few pages of results looked about right. “Operations” turned up too many misses (COO, ad operations, etc), so haven’t included it.

This tots up to about 17,108 people. I might guess that my DirectAds version of this is missing 4,028 people who have listed themselves as being in finance, banking, etc, or engineers who have nothing to do with software. Either way, not totally disparate figures.

So, does 13,000 sound like a good ballpark figure for the number of software developers in Ireland? 84% male vs 16% female? has some information compiled from the CSO and the National Skills Bulletin 2010. They conclude that there are 9,000 people employed in software development in Ireland, and that the gender breakdown is 89% male, 11% female. Interesting that while there’s a difference in the “totals” for each, the percentages are pretty close. Considering the time gap between the Forfás data (about a year old, sometimes more) and the LinkedIn (almost realtime), I think those numbers are a pretty good indicator.

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