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 males and females often work differently with software for problem-solving (e.g., tools for programming, debugging, spreadsheet modeling, end-user programming, 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 a field study were that software practitioners identified a surprisingly high number of gender-inclusiveness issues in their own software. We present these results and more, along with tales from the trenches on what it’s like to use GenderMag, our emerging work in Open Source settings, our “Teaching GenderMag” community, and ways to get involved.
This seminar is funded in part by the ACM Distinguished Speakers Program.
Margaret Burnett is an ACM Fellow, a CHI Academy member, and a Distinguished Professor at Oregon State Unversity. Her research on gender inclusiveness in software – especially in software tools for programming and problem-solving – spans over 10 years. Prior to this work, most gender investigations into software had addressed only gender-targeted software, such as video games for girls. Burnett and her team systematically debunked misconceptions of gender neutrality in a variety of software platforms, and then devised software features that help avert the identified problems. She has presented keynotes and invited talks on this topic in 8 countries. She serves on a variety of HCI and Software Engineering committees and editorial boards, and on the Academic Alliance Advisory Board of the U.S. National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). More on Burnett can be found at: web.engr.oregonstate.edu/~burnett/.