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Nathan Hughes interviewed for CIO Dive

You can read the original article as it was posted on CIO Dive by Jen A. Miller.

What languages do coders love? What gives them the biggest salary bump? Is the quest for a more diverse workforce working, or just talk?

These questions — and a lot more — were asked and answered in Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey. The company gave a 20-minute survey to nearly 90,000 developers, where they answer everything from what technologies they prefer, to career values to salaries to what makes them happy.

It shows how developers shape the business — critical for employers, especially those weaving in more technology.  

Everybody loves Python

Python hit two big lists, appearing on the most wanted and most loved languages lists.

“You don’t see a lot of other languages that have that combination of being really broadly used and loved,” Julia Silge, PhD, data scientist at Stack Overflow, and author of “Texting Mining with R: A Tidy Approach,“told CIO Dive in an interview. “In the 10-year history of Stack Overflow we’ve never seen something like Python grow so fast, and such a big language grow so fast.”

Developer’s most-loved languages
LanguageMost loved
Rust83.5%
Python73.1%
TypeScript73.1%
Kotlin72.6%
WebAssembly69.5%

SOURCE: Stack Overflow

Python “is enjoyable to use,” Nathan Hughes, co-founder and chief people officer at Detroit Labs, told CIO Dive in an interview. “It’s an expressive language, and it does a lot so you can work on several pieces with it.”

Just look at how Netflix uses Python. “We leverage well parallelized and optimized Python code to fetch data at 10Gbps, handle hundreds of millions of data points in memory, and orchestrate computation over tens of thousands of CPU cores,” according to a company blog post.

Developer’s most-wanted languages
LanguageMost wanted
Python25.7%
JavaScript17.8%
Go15%
TypeScript14.6%
Kotlin11.1%

SOURCE: Stack Overflow

Python is an important language in data science and data engineering, related to machine learning programming, Hughes said. For that reason, “a lot of programmers are going to learn it” if they don’t know it already.

“It’s a big emerging field that’s sucking up a lot of developers right now,”he said.

Niche languages pay more

Programmers who know Clojure, F#, Go and Scala demand the highest salaries, from $100,000 per year for Clojure to $78,000 for Scala. In comparison, Python is associated with an annual salary of $63,000. At the bottom, Java and C bring in annual salaries of $52,000.

That’s not because someone learns Python, Java or C and their salary drops, said Silge. Those languages drawing top salaries are in demand, niche languages.

Salaries for top-paying languages
LanguageSalary
Clojure$90K
F#$80K
Go$80K
Scala$78K
Elixir$76K

SOURCE: Stack Overflow

Data engineers, for example, use Scala forbig data and machine learning. It’s specific but highly valuable.

Those programmers who know these languages are highly valued, and get the salaries to go with it, Hughes said. Developers who know these languages tend to have more experience, and with more experience, come higher salaries too.

Companies building science and math applications have no choice but to pay for that expertise. “Those places are able and willing to pay premium salaries to attract the smaller number of programmers out there,” said Hughes.

There is still a diversity problem in programming

The fixture of the white, straight, male developer persists. More than 70% of respondents identify as white, 93% identify as heterosexual and 92% identify as male.

Women make up less than one-third of programmers with less than five years of experience, which could be good and bad, said Silge.

On the good side, it could show that more women are getting into programming. However, the American Psychological Association found women are more likely to leave the profession.

“We’re losing senior women, and we’re not losing them for happy reasons,” Silge said. “They’re either going to work in other industries or find something else to do.”

While the industry has worked to become more diverse by offering things like coding boot camps and junior developer programs and internships to people who may never have considered IT, that diversity is not streaming up, Hughes said.

“It points to where we really have to be focused on a long-term plan and path for all the folks that are in the industry,” he said. “There is a lot of work that has to be done to make companies a good place for underrepresented folks for the long term.”