Computer Science Distinguished Seminar - University of Houston
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Computer Science Distinguished Seminar

Gender-Inclusive Software

When: Monday, November 12, 2018
Where: PGH 232
Time: 11:00 AM

Speaker: Dr. Margaret Burnett, Oregon State University

Host: Prof. Thamar Solorio

Gender inclusiveness in software companies is receiving a lot of attention these days, but it overlooks a potentially critical factor: software itself. Research into how individual differences cluster by gender shows that men and women often work differently with software when they are problem-solving (e.g., when programming, debugging, using spreadsheets, doing game-based learning, visualizing information, etc.) In this talk, I'll present a method we call GenderMag.  At the core of the method are 5 facets of gender differences drawn from a large body of foundational work on gender differences from computer science, psychology, education, communications, and women's studies. Results from field studies have been that software practitioners identified a surprisingly high number of gender-inclusiveness issues in their own software. We present these results, a quick peek at emerging GenderMag work in Open Source settings and in the classroom, and ways to get involved.


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 was the principal architect of the Forms/3 and FAR visual programming languages, and co-founded the area of end-user software engineering, which aims to improve software for computer users that are not trained in programming. She pioneered the use of information foraging theory in the domain of software debugging, and 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 Fellow, a member of the ACM CHI Academy, and an award-winning mentor. She currently serves on three editorial boards, and has served in over 50 conference organization and program committee roles. She is also on the Academic Alliance Advisory Board of the National Center for Women In Technology (NCWIT).