Racism has never been an easy topic to tackle. Usually, it is one that people try to steer away from even in general conversation, a topic we simply tend to avoid. Regardless, most do realise that it is indeed a real problem that remains in our modern age and that it is one that is rooted in most aspects of life, including the mundane and unthought of.
What is more mundane to the average working citizen, then, than their career? And what is it that never fails to motivate said citizen to return the next day to continue onwards with their career? Salary. No doubt one of the most important parts of today’s society is money. Considering that importance, you might assume that all people should be given the same chance to acquire it equally, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Alas, that does not seem at all to be the case.
The reason it can often be so hard to talk about topics like this is that we sometimes focus more on our opinions and than on solid facts. That’s why I decided to set out to obtain some facts. With the knowledge I obtained from my course, I was able to visualise and analyse the data from the StackOverflow Annual Developer Survey to find insightful results that can help us moving forward.
The survey provided dozens of specifics collected by over 100,000 developers. There is in fact so much information to the point where developers take around a full 30 minutes to complete this survey. Two variables stood out to me that I felt could be very interesting to compare to others: salary and satisfaction. For the latter, one’s satisfaction in their (computer science related) job, I compared it almost everything available, their ethical integrity, their feeling of kinship to other developers, their gender and ethnicity, and so many more. In the end, however, I found that on average, there is not much change in job satisfaction. There are of course many who are unsatisfied, but there doesn’t seem to be one variable that directly influences that.
Salary, however, should have been different. I was definitely expecting to find some fluctuation in salary. First I compared it to gender. Nothing. Then to age. Nothing. Then to degree. Nothing. This was starting to get ridiculous—how was nothing affecting salary? Finally, I compared the participant’s race to their salary. This was a lot more interesting.
Look at the figure above and say what you see. It looks like there a lot more blue dots than the red, correct? Wrong. They’re equal. It’s true that more white people submitted the survey than all other ethnicities, but I made sure that the graph, with the three per cent it covers, maintains an equal ratio. The reason it seems like the red dots are so severely outnumbered is that most of the red is concentrated near the very bottom. Just look at it, the bottom line is nearly entirely red, leaving mostly only blue dots on top. Neglecting the outliers above $200,000/year, it is clear that this is not equal. Even in a supposedly merit-based, equal career like computer science, we are still facing problems with racism.
When you look average developer salary on Google, the first result you see is $106,710 per year. Based on the data from the survey, this is almost exactly correct for people of white ethnicity. Their average annual salary is $106,187. Other races are less fortunate; their average is $74,555. These findings are also supported by major organisations such as PayScale, who although obviously used very different data, still managed to reach the same consensus. We are still far from a perfect world without any separation between races, but this is a bit too much. Something has to change before we can become a truly advanced civilisation.
Here, I have provided the data that I have extracted from the survey data as two CSV files, as well as the code that graphs the data. Note that it is a very small portion of the data which is why it might look different from the image above, which is already a small portion itself. Try pressing the play button below, but be ready to test your patience.