12/11/2013 02:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Is It Easier to Land an Internship at Google as a Female?

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This question originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Melissa Dalis, Data Scientist Intern at Quora

This is a really important and difficult question, and I recommend reading Sheryl Sandberg's amazing book Lean In for more on this.

On the surface, it seems like as women, we are more likely to get offers because these software companies want to hire women, but there are a ton of other factors coming into play here, and I would claim that in the end it might be harder as a woman.

First, even if affirmative action did get you the internship, affirmative action is not going to write your code for you or give you a returning offer. So even if affirmative action leads to an internship, it wouldn't make sense for Google to give offers to women with coding skills that were significantly worse then men's, because they wouldn't do well on the job.

Gender stereotypes encourage women to be beautiful and nice and are constantly at odds with the "brogrammer" culture, which requires a ton of hard work and persistence to keep up with. Guys from a young age will find other friends interested in engineering/technology and get to bounce ideas off one another an encourage each other. I didn't have a single (out-of-class) friend in math or computer science until sophomore year in college.

There's also the problem that, because of personality, gender stereotypes, and other various reasons, we initially might not come across as rockstar engineers before we get the chance to prove ourselves. Society encourages women to be modest, leading us to not to show off our technical skills and accomplishments with as much confidence as men do.

It's also intimidating to be the only female in large groups of men! I always feel like I stand out in those situations and am being judged, and this adds a ton of pressure. I think it takes a lot of confidence and self motivation to overcome this.

I'm not sure if that answered your question, but with Bayes Rule I would claim that given that a female has made it this far to be qualified for a Google positions, she's already overcome other methods of self-selection that she probably has a higher than average chance of getting the offer.

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