Link: Diversity and productivity in programming teams

Interesting outcome of a study of GitHub open source projects: Teams are more productive when they have greater diversity in the length of time on project (tenure) and gender (“Gender and tenure diversity in GitHub teams”).

Diversity in teams has been studied for a long time in offline groups, but different studies still disagree on the effects. Instead, we focused on distributed (online) software teams, such as those in Open Source Software (OSS). OSS teams are much more fluid, therefore much less tangible, than their offline counterparts. In OSS teams are naturally very diverse, consisting of contributors from all over the world, typically a mixture of volunteers and professionals, coming from varied cultural and educational backgrounds, with different interests and skills.

It’s an interesting sample compared to many workplace studies, because contributors to open source projects can walk away much more easily. That makes the outcome more comparable to voluntary associations, possibly including those in small-scale societies. The authors indicate that their diversity measures explain a small proportion of the variance in productivity, and the measurements may not get at the important aspects of creative work, especially with the number of other factors that must be controlled.