A New Study Has Revealed Something Disturbing About Facebook's Gender Politics

Facebook have faced criticism in the past for the way they handle gender equality in the workplace, but the story hasn't reared its ugly head in a while now. You would hope that this was because it's no longer an issue, but a recent study suggests that it certainly still is.

A series of internal company studies have revealed that the code submitted by female members of staff is less likely to make it through the company's peer review system than the code submitted by male members of staff. Given that women hold only 17% of the technical positions in the company, this information is even more disconcerting.

The first of these studies was conducted by a former member of staff, and once Facebook saw the results for themselves, they commissioned a second internal study. This time, it revealed that the code rejections were more closely tied to the ranks of the engineers in question, rather than whether they were male or female. That being said, such a revelation also suggests that women aren't being promoted as often as men are, or that they aren't staying in the company as long. Either way, not great.

Facebook have stuck to the rhetoric that the data is either 'incomplete' or 'inaccurate'. In either case, they can't deny the fact that there's still a distinct imbalance between the treatment and progression of male and female employees, regardless of what the new study goes on to reveal. Facebook also characterise the lack of female engineers as an issue which stretches beyond their doors, but it doesn't alter the fact that they're one of the biggest tech firms in the world, and they have the power to inspire change.

The studies haven't been made public, so there's no hard data to draw from, but even the accounts of the findings are unsettling. Facebook is vast, and more influential than Zuckerberg and co. could ever have expected. The people who build it have a presiding influence over the way it evolves, and if they're mostly men, that evolution is going to be warped.

Zuckerberg himself has said that Facebook are facing a challenge to balance out the gender gap in their engineering force, which is at least somewhat comforting, but the issue isn't going to disappear overnight. Facebook have to not only take on more female staff, but find ways to shrug off the boys' club mentality which pollutes the coding job market. No easy feat, but if anyone can do it, you would think that the world's largest social network would be up to the task.

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