GE '18- Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Gender Equality in Software Engineering

Full Citation in the ACM Digital Library

SESSION: Gender diversity

Computer science identity and sense of belonging: a case study in Ireland

The study1 described in this paper investigates the role that gender plays in making the decision to study Computer Science in University College Dublin in Ireland (background influences) and investigates whether there is a difference in the perceived sense of belonging between the genders. The aim is to improve diversity and sense of belonging amongst Computer Science students, in order to ensure that our school is an inclusive space, where anyone can feel a sense of belonging regardless their gender.

Issues in gender diversity and equality in the UK

There has been a significant increase in the number of initiatives to raise awareness of diversity-related challenges in technology worldwide within the past decade. Multiple organizations now emphasize a need for a close to 50%-50% male to female workforce distribution. Example of proposed activities include introducing quotas for women on board positions, promoting equal opportunities for employment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs and creating a woman-friendly work environment. However, despite these efforts, the growth of number of women working in STEM is still slow.

To understand the impact of various initiatives and how they influence the work environment in universities in the UK, we conducted a survey to record responses from multiple women groups, so that we can identify the issues that they have been facing. This paper presents the insights drawn from the survey, along with recommendations for STEM and computing fields in order to increase female numbers in their programs. The survey presents qualitative measures of initiatives addressing the gender gap in the UK. The results show a clear need for prominent role models, mentoring, and promoting engagement of women in STEM subjects from an early age.

Towards gender equality in software engineering: the NSA approach

Multiple studies show that women are under-represented in almost all of fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). This gender gap is also present at higher education institutions in both student numbers and academic staff. A range of measures could be implemented to tackle this issue. In this position paper, we outline the measures that the School of Computer Science and Informatics of Cardiff University, UK, implemented over the past years, to foster a culture in which women could excel. Then, we discuss the measures that we plan to implement in future in order to increase the number of women both among students and academic staff.

SESSION: Gender gap in specific domains

Gender bias in artificial intelligence: the need for diversity and gender theory in machine learning

Artificial intelligence is increasingly influencing the opinions and behavior of people in everyday life. However, the over-representation of men in the design of these technologies could quietly undo decades of advances in gender equality. Over centuries, humans developed critical theory to inform decisions and avoid basing them solely on personal experience. However, machine intelligence learns primarily from observing data that it is presented with. While a machine's ability to process large volumes of data may address this in part, if that data is laden with stereotypical concepts of gender, the resulting application of the technology will perpetuate this bias. While some recent studies sought to remove bias from learned algorithms they largely ignore decades of research on how gender ideology is embedded in language. Awareness of this research and incorporating it into approaches to machine learning from text would help prevent the generation of biased algorithms. Leading thinkers in the emerging field addressing bias in artificial intelligence are also primarily female, suggesting that those who are potentially affected by bias are more likely to see, understand and attempt to resolve it. Gender balance in machine learning is therefore crucial to prevent algorithms from perpetuating gender ideologies that disadvantage women.

Software testing conferences and women

The question of gender equality is an increasing concern in all aspects of life these days. ICT has its peculiarities in this respect, as it is often regarded as a "male" discipline. Among the many different subfields of ICT, in this work we concentrate on software testing, an area in which a significant portion of all ICT professionals is engaged. Testing is an interesting field because according to certain views more women work in this area compared to other ICT fields. Since testing itself still covers a large topic involving education, research and industry, we further limit our analysis to software testing conferences and the rate of women participation in important roles at these venues. We looked at keynote speakers and chairs in different roles and program committees, but not the participants themselves as reliable data was available only for the former. We investigated if gender distribution was similar to or different from the reported data for ICT as a whole. We also compared the different types of conferences, academic and industrial, from this aspect. We have found, among other things, that gender ratio at software testing conferences is similar to other fields, but in more important roles such as keynotes, equality is more significantly maintained.

Gender in open source software: what the tools tell

This position paper considers what studying Open Source Software tools can lend to understanding the topic of Gender Diversity in Open Source Software. More specifically we investigate the GenderMag method, a Gender Inclusive method and how it can help increase gender inclusiveness in the tools that are used by OSS communities.

SESSION: Gender equality and education

Observations of computing students on the homogeneity of their classrooms

This paper aims to provide some insight into the experiences and challenges faced by a cohort of homogeneously male final year students in a third level computing degree programme. It looks at their perceptions of how this homogeneity impacts them. Despite a large volume of research into the gender imbalance in STEM, studies of the male perspective have largely been absent from the literature.

The study originally intended to examine their perceptions on how the gender imbalance impacted their education. However, the resulting research gave voice to a number of concerns. This work focuses on the concerns surrounding the industry they are entering, as well as potential outcomes of the imbalanced learning environment. This work in particular seeks to look at how the normative masculinity experienced by the students in third level that could be seen to disadvantage or hurt women also constrains the men experiencing them.

Digital girls program: disseminating computer science to girls in Brazil

The decrease in the number of women working with Information Technology and Engineering is a worldwide concern. Several movements have emerged that aim to encourage the presence of women in these fields. This article presents the Digital Girls Program (Programa Meninas Digitals) developed by the Brazilian Computer Society, which aims to disseminate the many facets of computer science for high school and elementary school students in Brazil. The article presents the strategies adopted for implementing the program in the country and the actions of the program's sister projects. The idea is to publicize the program and to share the experiences gained and challenges met in the field.

Gender equality in software engineering: extended abstract

This is the collected work of four female software engineers and myself. Their writing describes their lived experiences in software engineering and as mothers of children in school, while my own describes my lived experience of teaching computing to my children and their peers in school, and in clubs and community events outside of school. The four female engineers, who had the bandwidth to write at this time, include different levels of seniority and experience; an engineer who has come to software engineering late, after a non-computing education; and software engineers who have taken up leadership roles in project management. The views I express are based on my independent research as part of my self-funded PhD in Educational Research with the University of Cumbria. The author of the paper is identifiable as the male engineer, while the writing of the four female engineers is presented anonymously.

SESSION: Actions for promoting diversity

Perceptions on diversity in brazilian agile software development teams: a survey

A lot has been said about the importance of talking about diversity in Computer Science and Software Engineering. There is a clear lack of representativeness when we observe gender distribution in Information Technology jobs and students in universities, for example. Diversity is good beyond ethic reasons, it's recognized as valuable and, lot of studies have been done about it. Large technology companies have been creating annual reports of their efforts to have a more diverse workforce, increasing minority numbers through recruiting, working to minimize unconscious bias and also investing in programs to increase representativeness. In this paper, we present a work in progress study that links a definition of diversity to the results of a survey applied to explore the perceptions of diversity in agile software development teams in Brazil and an initial analysis focusing mainly on the role of women in those teams.

Improving diversity in computing research: an overview of CRA-W activities

The Committee on the Status of Women in Computing is an action-oriented committee of the Computing Research Association with the goal of taking positive action to increase the number and success of women in the Computer Science and Engineering research pipeline. This paper describes CRA-Ws major programs and highlights some of their impacts as demonstrated through evaluation.

Affirmative action for attracting women to STEM in chile

Women are currently almost half of the work force in Chile, but very few of them work in the software industry. In part, this is because there are strong cultural stereotypes about what careers are "for men" in Chile. This idea has been further cemented by the standardized admissions process used by Chilean universities, where female mathematics scores have historically been lower than that of their male peers. In order to break these stereotypes and attract more women into STEM careers, the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Chile has created the Gender Equality Admissions Program (PEG, for its name in Spanish, Programa de Ingreso Prioritario de Equidad de Génera) in 2013. Under this program, 40 extra women are selected into the most competitive engineering and science program in the country. In the five years that the PEG has been in place, the number of women accepted into the engineering and science program has grown from 19% to more than 32%. Moreover, we have started to see an increase in the enrollment of female students in Software Engineering courses. This growth goes beyond the 40 new female students per year.