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CSE Student Organizations host ACM Fellow Professor Margaret Burnett

Distinguished Professor Margaret Burnett from Oregon State University visited USF to present her ongoing research in "Gender HCI", an approach to human-computer interaction which accounts for gender differences in technology workflows, interfaces, and even workplace practices. The talk gave students and faculty the opportunity to learn more about recent innovations in inclusive software. The event was host by Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE) CSE student organizations.

Gender differences have been studied widely and in every field as the efforts to become more fair have increased. Although, there’s been less research is in the biases people experience just by using technology. In the computing industry gender bias in the actual software produced has been ironically overlooked.

GenderMag (Gender-Inclusiveness Magnifier), created by Oregon State University Professors and Co-directors, Professor Margaret Burnett and Professor Anita Sarma, helps developers identify gender biases. The method is a gender-specialized cognitive walkthrough that helps developers see their product through the eyes of a set of personas that model the difficulties users of all genders may encounter. In this way, IT Professionals find and fix gender-inclusivity “bugs,” remediating gender biases in their products. The method accomplishes this by accounting for five cognitive factors in problem-solving styles.


We asked Professor Burnett about why she first started this research: “One of my students dragged me into it,” she laughed. “I had a master’s student going for her PhD, who was looking for a topic. She found that no one was thinking about gender inclusive tech in the late 90’s. She discovered 'holy cow this is a thing!' She's one of the first to ask if tech is gender neutral. By the time she graduated with her PhD, I was hooked!"

The GenderMag method has been used by IT developers, managers, UX/UI professionals, and others since 2016, in over 50 countries across the world,  and has contributed to inclusive development in software, web pages, web-based forms, and support protocols. CSE thanks Professor Burnett for her presentation on GenderMag and the important developments of inclusivity in Human-Computer Interaction, and we all thank her for her efforts to help make a more inclusive world. 

To learn more about GenderMag, click here. To download a Chrome Extension to use GenderMag in your web development, click here. Or to see their GitHub to be a part of their efforts, see here.

This event was hosted by Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE). Funding for the visit was made possible by the Computing Partners Program

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