Diversity in Online Software Teams

What effect does diversity have on the productivity of development teams? Are open source platforms as diverse as we believe them to be? We are using GitHub data to develop a better understanding of how team composition works in the age of open-source.

SC Faculty and Researchers

Bogdan Vasilescu

Software development is usually a collaborative venture. Open Source Software (OSS) projects are no exception; indeed, by design, the OSS approach can accommodate teams that are more open, geographically distributed, and dynamic than commercial teams. This, we find, leads to OSS teams that are quite diverse. Team diversity, predominantly in offline groups, is known to correlate with team output, mostly with positive effects. How about in OSS?

Using GitHub, the largest publicly available collection of OSS projects, we studied how gender and tenure diversity relate to team productivity and turnover. Using regression modeling of GitHub data and the results of a survey, we show that both gender and tenure diversity are statistically significant, positive predictors of productivity, with small effects. These results can inform decision making on all levels, leading to better outcomes in recruiting and performance.

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