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Special HCI Seminar: Finding Gender-Inclusiveness Software Issues in the Real World with GenderMag

Margaret Burnett
Distinguished Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University


Gates-Hillman Center 4405

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Gender inclusiveness in computing settings is receiving a lot of attention, but one potentially critical factor has mostly been overlooked: software itself. To help close this gap, we recently created GenderMag, a systematic inspection method to enable software practitioners to evaluate their software for issues of gender-inclusiveness. In this talk, we present the first real-world investigation of software practitioners' ability to identify gender-inclusiveness issues in software they create/maintain using this method. Our investigation was a multiple-case field study of software teams at three major U.S. technology organizations. The results were that, using GenderMag to evaluate software, these software practitioners identified a surprisingly high number of gender-inclusiveness issues: 25% of the software features they evaluated had gender-inclusiveness issues. We present these results and more, along with tales from the trenches on what it’s like to use GenderMag, where the pitfalls lie, and all the things we are still in the process of learning about it.

Speaker's Bio

Margaret Burnett is an OSU Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University.  She began her career in industry, where she was the first woman software developer ever hired at Procter & Gamble Ivorydale.  A few degrees and start-ups later, she joined academia, with a research focus on people who are engaged in some form of software development.  She  leads the team that created GenderMag, a software inspection process that uncovers gender inclusiveness issues in software from spreadsheets to programming environments.  Burnett is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and a member of the ACM CHI Academy.  She current serves on three editorial boards, on several conference committees, and on the  Academic Alliance Advisory Board of the National Center for Women in IT (NCWIT).

Brad Myers