Not a Positive Trend

Apr 13 09

Not a Positive Trend

Paul Weinstein

A List Apart recently released their survey of web professionals “to shed light on precisely who creates websites.” Overall the survey “jives” with what I would expect, but then again since the survey is, by its very nature, polling similar individuals, it would be more of a surprise if the results didn’t.

In fact, if anything I think the survey suggests that a bit more diversity for this segment of the industry is called for. For example, I’ve spending over 10 years either working as or with web developers of various sorts, which means while I’m hardly in the majority, I fall within the largest segment.

Breakdown of Individual’s Years of Experience [1]

So how homogeneous are the professionals that make up this segment of the industry, a bit too similar:

  • Over 2/3 of respondents are male. (Check)
  • Over 2/3 of respondents identify themselves and White / Caucasian. (Check)
  • Over 2/3 of respondents are 44 years old or younger. (Check)
  • Just shy of half (48.3%) of the respondents live in the United States of America. (Check)
  • A majority of respondents maintain their own blog and/or personal website. (Check)

So, a large percentage of those participating in this survey are white males from the United States. That makes the results of these questions quite interesting:

Perceived Bias

Yes, that’s right, a large percentage of white males perceive no sexual or ethnic bias within the web development segment of the tech industry. Not exactly reassuring is it?

What’s also interesting is that while only 40% are definitely sure they have not perceived an age bias, 75% of our largely white men are definitely sure there is no ethnic bias in the industry.

Does diversity matter, beyond “fairness”. Well, yes.  Why? Well for exactly the reason why the results of this survey don’t surprise me; there is a lot of “groupthink” going on here. Individuals within the group are trying to minimize conflict are agreeing with what they feel the group will agree upon, of course I maintain my own site, I’m a web developer after all! Groupthink can lead to the lost of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. This should be a major concern for an industry that prides itself on those very things; creativity, innovation and individuality.

Of course the real question is; Is this survey truly representative of individuals as a whole or is this nothing more than a survey of A List Apart’s audience?

[1] While the data represented in these charts are from A List Apart’s 2008 survey, the charts themselves have been created by me.