Gender Diversity in the R and Python Communities

December 5, 2018

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Many (if not most) tech communities have far more representation from men than from women (and even fewer from nonbinary folk). This is a shame, because everybody uses software, and these projects would self-evidently benefit from the talent and expertise from across the entire community. Some projects are doing better than others, though, and data scientist Reshama Shaikh recently published an in-depth comparison of the representation of women in the R any Python communities.

Shaikh's analysis draws from several data sources, which provide evidence that women are better represented in the R community in the Python community. These include:

  • The R-Ladies community has 29,500 members compared to PyLadies' 36,500, despite the Python community being 6x larger overall.
  • A 2016 study of GitHub contributors estimates R contributors are 9.3% women, and 2.0% for Python contributors.
  • In a 2017 R Consortium survey of R users, 14% of respondents identified as women.
  • The 2018 New York R conference had 45% women speakers; the 2016 useR! conference had 28% female attendees. 


Several reasons are offered for the relative success of the R community in this regard, but in my opinion the most important of these is the vibrancy of the R-Ladies network, which now comprises 134 chapters worldwide. Shaikh lists some steps that the Python community are taking to address the issue, and provides several additional suggestions as well. You can read the complete analysis and recommendations in the blog post linked below. 

Reshama Shaikh: Why Women Are Flourishing In R Community But Lagging In Python

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