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Studies about diversity in Software Engineering (SE) are important to understand the disparity occurring nowadays at information technology workplaces. The goal of this work is to analyze the characteristics of diversity in SE and how to adapt SE practices when we have teams with diversity characteristics. We collected data by conducting a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) and semi-structured interviews aiming to identify what impacts of diversity can be observed in software development teams. We found that there are several challenges and barriers encountered in the work environment, and that inclusion and diversity can affect the software development teams positively.
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2018 11th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering
Diversity in Software Engineering
Álvaro Menezes
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio
Grande do Sul
Computer Science School
Porto Alegre, Brazil
alvaro.menezes@acad.pucrs.br
Rafael Prikladnicki
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio
Grande do Sul
Computer Science School
Porto Alegre, Brazil
rafaelp@pucrs.br
ABSTRACT
1Studies about diversity in Software Engineering (SE) are
important to understand the disparity occurring nowadays at
information technology workplaces. The goal of this work is to
analyze the characteristics of diversity in SE and how to adapt
SE practices when we have teams with diversity characteristics.
We collected data by conducting a Systematic Literature Review
(SLR) and semi-structured interviews aiming to identify what
impacts of diversity can be observed in software development
teams. We found that there are several challenges and barriers
encountered in the work environment, and that inclusion and
diversity can affect the software development teams positively.
CCS CONCEPTS
Software and its engineering Software creation and
management;
KEYWORDS
Diversity, Software Engineering, Workplace, Team
ACM Reference format:
A. Menezes, R. Prikladnicki. 201 8. In International Workshop on
Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering,
Gothenburg, Sweden, May 2018 (CHASE'18), 4 pages.
https://doi.org/10.1145/3195836.3195857
1 INTRODUCTION
Diversity in the IT workforce presents multiple dimensions
regarding ethnicity, age, gender and people with disabilities [1],
such as perspectives on how people perceive themselves and
how they perceive others, and that these perceptions affect their
interactions in the work environment [2].
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CHASE'18, May 27, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden
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ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-5725-8/18/05$15.00
https://doi.org/10.1145/3195836.3195857
Culturally diverse teams in the work environment are
needed, and their effects could impact performance, processes,
organizational outcomes and even technological advances [1].
Moreover, diversity of employees makes the companies more
suitable to attend external customers and present a better
understanding of requirements [2]. Diversity management
allows to get the potential of employees and gain a competitive
advantage [2], such as achieve productive stage earlier [3],
increase effectiveness [4] and most robust final products [5].
Increasing diversity in computing is important to design
more robust end products on the market and because the issue of
inclusion to be more representative of society [5]. Studies also
mention that diversity is important for SE because creates better
teams, with improved teamwork and efficiency [3]. In a software
organization people are their most significant asset besides being
expensive to recruit and retain competent professionals, then is
necessary to manage people to work on respect for differences,
equal treatment, valuation and motivation to form a cohesive
and strong group capable of dealing with unexpected problems
and situations [6].
Although some studies demonstrate that teams with a
presence of minorities and diversity are beneficial in the work
environment [3-5], other studies show that the Information
Technology (IT) sector is homogeneous in several aspects, being
composed mostly of males and non-minority people [8] [5] [7].
In this context, this paper proposes to explore the aspects that
involve diversity in SE to evaluate the impacts, efforts, and
challenges of a diverse software development team.
2 BACKGROUNDS
Challenges and opportunities of diversity impact all the
nations around the world and can be strong emotional for those
who deal directly or indirectly with this theme. Individuals need
to have tolerance, respect and understanding these differences,
besides being a moral responsibility of each one. Valuing
diversity in the work environment can maximize workforce
productivity and competitiveness organizational, as well as
promote positive publicity of the company [9].
A study made in Germany IT sector investigate gender gap
and suggest that managers prefer to employ women in socially
oriented tasks such as project management or quality. This
perception is stereotyped, which in some cases may lead to
organizational segregation [10]. Guerrier et al. [7] conducted
similar research in the United Kingdom focused on the under-
representation of women in the IT sector. The outcomes
evidence that a gender identity continues to be done in a
CHASE'18, May 27, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden
A. Menezes et al.
2
traditional way, identifying women based on a soft skill and a
less technical profile.
Since the 1960s, when the first IT opportunities emerged
outside a military environment, the number of jobs increased
significantly, but the female presence grew little and in some
periods even decreased [11]. The same occurs in the academic
world although women have increased their presence in
traditionally male courses such as medicine, law, and
management, in IT courses female participation has fallen [8].
Although there are factors that discourage women from
joining the field of computing [12], there are ways that combine
technical skills with social skills which are opportunities for
women to enter the job market [7]. According to Hazzan et al.
[12] collaboration and sharing, communication, reliability and
positive relationships are characteristics any good management
style, however, their literature research also attributes this style
to women management. For this style, the agile environment can
be very suitable. Women can feel more comfortable in this
environment, eliminating barriers and allow more women to be
recruited to the IT industry [12]. For organizations a way
forward is the diversity management that aims to establish an
inclusive organizational culture and can support the
management of human resources in the retention of highly
qualified women [13].
Concerning people with disabilities, challenges include issues
of accessibility, environmental adaptation, and communication.
Also, the lack of encouragement by individuals with whom they
interact is often the most significant integration barrier [14].
According to Krutz et al. [15] efficient and effective
communication is an integral part of most software projects, but
for the hearing impaired this can be a barrier and challenge to
overcome. There are reports of deaf people who felt unwanted
on the team as well as co-workers that had difficulties
communicating and interacting with them. This type of
obstruction affects not only the software industry but also
academia, so further research is encouraged to improve
knowledge and education in computing as a whole. Problems
with poor interpersonal communication create conflict and
stress in the team as well as harming companies struggling to
attract, develop, and retain software developers.
Diversity management requires an inclusive work
environment; on the other hand when establishing measures to
address specific groups, stereotyped attributions ("women",
"Muslims", "homosexuals") can be introduced that not benefit
target groups [13]. Technology workers are often humorously
stereotyped as being socially awkward or lacking
communication skills, may be constructed as ‘problems' rather
than ideal workers [7]. This kind of label is no laughing matter,
because for many workers with atypical profiles or people with
disabilities their condition may be the result of some
neurodiverse deficiency [16]. Visually impaired people also face
difficulty in integration at work because of the bias on the part
of employers that blind or visually impaired people do not
interact with computers [17].
Patrick et al. [2] conduct a research among the top 15 IT
organizations of India. Their outcomes showed that admitting
prejudice and bias were considered the most effective strategy to
increase awareness about workplace diversity followed by
recognizing diversity and learning to respect differences by
rejecting myths about other people. To achieve this
effectiveness, it is necessary to overcome language barriers and
stereotypes, which may require a mental elimination of
pejorative terms and a different view of individuals [2].
3 METHODOLOGIES
This is an ongoing study that aims to identify the challenges
faced by software development teams to deal with diversity. We
first conducted a systematic literature review (SLR) about
diversity in software engineering. The goal was to identify
studies about this topic and relate the type of diversity with a SE
domain using the SWEBOK Knowledge Areas (KA) as the
framework of analysis [18]. We also conducted semi-structured
interviews to collect more information about how diversity
manifests in the work environment and better understand this in
the field.
3.1 Systematic Literature Review
According to Wholin [19] studies of systematic literature
review have emerged as a way to synthesize evidence, allowing
researchers to arrive at a common understanding of the state of a
research area. To do this review, two research questions were
elaborated:
RQ1 Which studies have been published about diversity in
SE, and what are its characteristics?
RQ2 How does diversity impact the software development
process?
Using a snowballing approach, we identify the papers and
included studies that were published in magazines, conferences,
workshops, and books. We look for studies using Google
Scholar. It is a useful resource and a good alternative to avoid
bias in favor of some specific publisher [19] and also provides
links to relevant papers and does not require a subscription [20].
In the research, the following keywords were used: software
engineering, diversity, workplace development, disabilities, and
disability.
Snowballing uses the reference list of an article or its
respective citations to identify other related papers. For the
execution of the method, a search in the databases is generated,
generating an initial list of papers. These papers go through a
more careful selection that aims to exclude those who are out of
scope or who do not respond to the search query, resulting in
the Start Set [19].
On the Start Set, the first iteration is performed applying the
snowballing process. The review of bibliographic references is
called Backward Snowballing (BS), and the search for citations is
called Forward Snowballing (FS). If new papers are identified at
the end of the first iteration, the process is repeated, and so on
until there are no more new references to include.
2018 11th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering
Table 1- Correlation among Knowledge Areas of SWEBOK and diversity types found in each paper of Systematic Literature Review.
Ethnicity
Disabilities
Age
Personality
Generic
SE Professional Practices
P2, P11, P16
P5, P6, P7,, P11, P14, P16
P11
P15
P9, P10, P12
Software Design
P12
Software Construction
Software Testing
Software Maintenance
SE Models and Methods
P7, P7
P12
Software Requirements
P15
P12
Figure 1: SWEBOK KA and papers found in the SLR.
The first interaction browsing Google Scholar resulted in a
total of 2390 papers. We first read the title of the article. If it is
tentatively paper to include, then is read the abstract. When the
abstract proved insufficient, then the material was examined
thoroughly. Most papers did not have relation with SE, and
several had no relation to IT. A significant number of IT papers
was related to human-computer interaction not answering the
research questions neither aggregating to study. Only 11 papers
and one book were selected to compose the Start Set (P1 P12).
In the first iteration using BS, six more papers were judged
relevant and included (P13 P18). Then we ran another iteration
and added three more papers (P19 - P21) using BS. The third
interaction we added two paper using BS and three using FS
(P22-P26). After that, we run two additional iterations, including
one paper using BS (P27) and this paper has one citation using
FS (P28). After that, no more new relevant studies were found.
3.2 Semi-Structured Interview
In addition to the SLR, we conducted separately two in-
person interviews with software development professionals
whose working in an international software company that has
three pillar business, being one social and economic justice. In
this company is diverse friendly then all employees already have
some knowledge about diversity and inclusion. Each interview
lasted between 30 and 40 minutes.
One interviewee had a leadership position with a long career
managing development teams. Another was a developer with
considerable experience. Both already worked in different
companies, places and they are self-identified as minorities.
General open questions were asked about diversity in the
workplace. First, we asked, “Is diversity important for you in
your personal life?and "Describe how you see the presence of
diversity in the workplace?". According they related their
experiences, we asked How it can impact software development
with their point of view? Based on their background asked if was
possible describe positive or negative experiences encountered
by them during working days in their career.
4 RESULTS
To get a better understanding of types of diversity and its
manifestation in SE we analyzed papers selected in a SLR and its
correlation among the SWEBOK KA and diversity types
summarized in Table 1. As the Table shows, the majority of
studies were focused on gender diversity aspects followed by
disabilities, Ethnicity, age, and personality. However, some
papers discussing diversity generically without any type
specifically.
According to Figure 1 we observe that the most discussed KA
in the selected studies was SE Professional Practices (64.28%).
The second comes Software Design with 35.71%. The third is
Software Requirements with 21.42%. Fourthly comes SE Models
and Methods and Software Construction both with 10.71%.
Moreover, then Software Testing and Software Maintenance
with 3.56%.
In the interviews, we found evidence that the participation of
minorities during the development process from the initial phase
contributed to better creativity in finding solutions for different
projects. Both interviewees spoke about the importance of ideas
in the initial phase of the project as one interviewee said:
"Several points of view have generated interesting and even
unexpected discussions in a solution software project with
multidisciplinary innovation requirements. There were a great
variety and quantity of ideas that impacted on the final result ".
The other interviewee (developer) said:
"Diversity provided richer communication with different
experiences and visions as well as being culturally enriching, but
as a woman many times my ideas were not considered in the
design of the solution. Men's ideas are always discussed while
women’s often are not even heard. "
During the development phase, both worked with people
with disabilities and said about the importance of to adapt the
environment. At this stage one of the interviewees (developer)
described a difference in task assignment:
"In general, there are always visual or non-technical tasks for
women, and this is a barrier to growth."
The leader interviewed mentioned difficulties in performing
some visually impaired tasks on a distributed team:
0" 2" 4" 6" 8" 10" 12" 14" 16" 18" 20"
Software"Eng."Professional"Pratice"
Software"Eng."Models"and"Methods"
Software"Maintenace"
Software"testing"
Software"Construction"
Software"Design"
Software"Requirements"
CHASE'18, May 27, 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden
A. Menezes et al.
2
"We found some difficulty in distance pairing with the
visually impaired, as an alternative solution we put teams
working on the same story locally including the visually
impaired, which solved the problem without loss of speed. Also
concerning the limitations we avoid visual tasks and pass more
technical tasks." He also mentioned that some inconvenience
happened during the development:
"There were some complaints from the women of the team
regarding how they were treated by the customer".
"Although the project was a success in delivery phase, a
transgender developer of the team was not comfortable in
technical visits in loco, and due physical limitations some
members with disabilities avoid moving to the customer because
there is no adaptation in the workplace environment."
5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
First of all, this paper has limitations. Diversity has several
dimensions that could affect diverse teams in different ways,
according to culture, place, etc. therefore is hard generalize a
deep, broad theory or conclusion generic about this subject. Our
interviews are not a representative sample, and the results
cannot be generalized in the fields of SE. The limitations suggest
several prospects for further research.
Below we discuss the answers to the research questions:
RQ1 Which studies have been published about diversity in
SE, and what are its characteristics?
In the SLR was possible to find several studies addressing
different topics about diversity. Highlights on most of the papers
are about gender issues and professional practices, showing that
although men mostly populate the workplace, environment
studies could help to make IT more heterogeneous. There are
barriers and challenges to be overcome especially in teamwork.
Reports of women considered to be technically inferior in the
work environment are common although no study showed a
significant difference between genders in performing tasks. The
disparity at workplace begins in the academic environment.
Courses related to IT, do not attract minority groups that are
also a factor that reflects in the job market.
RQ2 How does diversity impact the software development
process?
This study demonstrates our research on the relationship
between diversity and SE practices. According to the results it
was possible to observe that practices related to the work
environment could contribute to inclusion as well as to
organizational results. Diversity could impact positively on
aspects such as innovation efficiency and teamwork on different
phases of software development and KA.
Difficulties have been encountered concerning equality in
academia and the IT industry, as well as barriers to inclusion of
people with disabilities.
Finally, the IT environment still consists of a majority of men
unequally representing society, so there is an open field to the
study of practices that promote inclusion and a better
understanding of this phenomenon to promote the equity of
opportunities within the scope of SE.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This project is partially funded by FAPERGS, project 17/2551-
0001/205-4.
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... The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a questionnaire that indicates different traits of personality, was the most used test [11]. [45] Capability ASD 5 [3] Communication SE; GSD 5 [17] Critical Factors ASD 5 [27] Decision-making Software Project 3.5 [33] Diversity SE 2.5 [30] Diversity ASD 3.5 [40] Emotional SE 5 [9] Human Aspects SE; Productivity 3 [39] Human Aspects ASD 2.5 [42] Human Challenges ASD; GSD 5 [10] Human Factor ASD 5 [18] Human Factor SE; Code Review 3.5 [36] Human Factor SE; Productivity 3.5 [23] Human Factor Software Quality 3 [19] Individual In recent years, the academy's interest in deepening studies on the influence of Emotion [14,40] and Diversity [30,33] in the development team has been observed. Sánchez-Gordón and Colomo-Palacios [40] identified 40 emotions investigated in team members, e.g., anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, love, and happiness. ...
... The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a questionnaire that indicates different traits of personality, was the most used test [11]. [45] Capability ASD 5 [3] Communication SE; GSD 5 [17] Critical Factors ASD 5 [27] Decision-making Software Project 3.5 [33] Diversity SE 2.5 [30] Diversity ASD 3.5 [40] Emotional SE 5 [9] Human Aspects SE; Productivity 3 [39] Human Aspects ASD 2.5 [42] Human Challenges ASD; GSD 5 [10] Human Factor ASD 5 [18] Human Factor SE; Code Review 3.5 [36] Human Factor SE; Productivity 3.5 [23] Human Factor Software Quality 3 [19] Individual In recent years, the academy's interest in deepening studies on the influence of Emotion [14,40] and Diversity [30,33] in the development team has been observed. Sánchez-Gordón and Colomo-Palacios [40] identified 40 emotions investigated in team members, e.g., anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, love, and happiness. ...
... Sánchez-Gordón and Colomo-Palacios [40] identified 40 emotions investigated in team members, e.g., anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, love, and happiness. Diversity in the SE presents multiple dimensions regarding ethnicity, age, gender, and disabilities [33]. Table 2 shows that 11 studies are specific for ASD, and 9 studies have a specific perspective in SE. ...
... There have been numerous calls for more research on the human side of software engineering [2], [3], [4]. As of now, multiple and diverse human challenge areas have been identified: Improving communication [5], aiming for more diversity in teams [6], [7], fears or confidence issues [8], team culture and how team members treat each other [9], to name a few. The findings so far provide great insights about which areas could matter most and how social challenges in software engineering should be tackled. ...
... Some authors advise to keep human value distance low to avoid problems [27], [28]. Others advocate to overcome potential problems in a more productive way: multicultural and diverse teams can perform especially outstandingly [6], [7] e.g. if the team tries to actively understand the differences between its members [11], [29] -a prospect we want to support and enable. Globally distributed teams face some additional challenges: If teams in different places are sized differently, there might be a disbalance in perceived power potentially leading to dissatisfaction in the smaller team, or to resentment of the smaller team in the larger team [26]. ...
... However, there are few reports describing how SE addresses the participation of stakeholders with disabilities in the phases of the software development process [Paiva et al. 2021]. As presented by Menezes and Prikladnicki [Menezes and Prikladnicki 2018] it is possible to observe that practices related to the work environment can contribute to inclusion as well as to organizational results. Diversity and inclusion can impact positively on aspects such as innovation efficiency and teamwork on different phases of software development. ...
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Software engineering is largely a communication-driven, team-oriented discipline. There are numerous hurdles for ensuring proper communication and interaction between all project stakeholders, including physical, technological, and cultural barriers. These obstructions not only affect software engineering in industry, but in academia as well. One possible issue that is often overlooked in software engineering education is how to best educate Deaf and hard-of-hearing (Deaf/HoH) students, and how to fully engage them in the classroom. In this paper, we present our experiences in teaching software engineering to Deaf/HoH students. In the classroom, these students work very closely in activities and on project teams with their hearing peers. We also present recommendations for creating a more robust software engineering educational experience for not only Deaf/HoH students, but for hearing students as well. We encourage instructors not only in software engineering programs, but in other computing disciplines to consider our recommendations and observations in order to enhance the educational experience for all students in the classroom, whether Deaf/HoH or hearing.
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Diversity management is a process intended to create and maintain a positive work environment where the similarities and differences of individuals are valued. The literature on diversity management has mostly emphasized on organization culture; its impact on diversity openness; human resource management practices; institutional environments and organizational contexts to diversity-related pressures, expectations, requirements, and incentives; perceived practices and organizational outcomes related to managing employee diversity; and several other issues. The current study examines the potential barriers to workplace diversity and suggests strategies to enhance workplace diversity and inclusiveness. It is based on a survey of 300 IT employees. The study concludes that successfully managing diversity can lead to more committed, better satisfied, better performing employees and potentially better financial performance for an organization.
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Gender issues have recently been discussed extensively with respect to the computing fields (Bair & McGrathe-Cohoon, 2005; Camp, 2002; Margolis & Fisher, 2002). One of the discussed issues is the “shrinking pipeline” phenomenon (Camp, 1997). Camp shows how, in addition to the shrinking of the pipeline upon transition from high school to graduate school, the pipeline has been shrinking also at the bachelor-degree level since 1983. She argues that since the number of women at the bachelor’s level affects the number of women at levels higher in the pipeline and in the job market, this phenomenon is of great concern. The shrinking pipeline is explained in various ways. Among other explanations, the image of the field as requiring long hours of programming is a dominant one. Here is an illustrative case. The April 3, 2003, edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business News addressed the question of why more women are not involved in the tech fields.1 This question was discussed by a panel, assembled by the Pittsburgh Technology Council a week before the article was published, which included some of the region’s most successful women. Among other arguments, Robbin Steif, chief financial officer of Maya Design, said, “It might be an issue of self-selection—women might not be risk takers.” Then she added, “It might also have something to do with the work/family issue, because entrepreneurs work way more than 40 hours per week.” This article focuses on software development teams using one of the agile software development methods. A high quality of working software is the primary measure of progress; however, agile software development processes, in addition, promote a sustainable pace for all the individuals (developers and users) involved in the software development process,2 welcome requirement changes even in late stages of the development, and favor face-to-face communication. Based on our observations of agile software teams both in academia and in industry, we claim that such software development frameworks enable women to gain new and better positions in the hi-tech industry in general and in software development teams in particular. We view this article as an example of how diversity can be achieved in software teams. In our current research, we explore other dimensions by which diversity can be achieved in software teams, such as minorities and nationalities. The perspective and data that are presented in this article are part of our research about human aspects of software engineering, specifically our comprehensive research about cognitive and organizational aspects of agile software development methods both in the industry and academia (Dubinsky & Hazzan, 2004; Dubinsky, Talby, Hazzan, & Keren, in press; Hazzan & Dubinsky, 2003a, 2003b; Tomayko & Hazzan, 2004).q Purchase this chapter to continue reading all 8 pages >
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We describe a collaborative software engineering course between sighted college students and high school students with visual impairments. We designed the course as a mentorship experience, in which one college student mentor is connected to one high school student mentee. Each pair of students is responsible for a programming project. The students must learn to communicate programming concepts and software designs, to work with colleagues with very different levels of software engineering knowledge, and to overcome problems related to visual accessibility. We have implemented our course in a pilot program with five mentors and five mentees. This paper covers our course design, initial experiences, and recommendations for future implementations.
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Background: Systematic literature studies have become common in software engineering, and hence it is important to understand how to conduct them efficiently and reliably. Objective: This paper presents guidelines for conducting literature reviews using a snowballing approach, and they are illustrated and evaluated by replicating a published systematic literature review. Method: The guidelines are based on the experience from conducting several systematic literature reviews and experimenting with different approaches. Results: The guidelines for using snowballing as a way to search for relevant literature was successfully applied to a systematic literature review. Conclusions: It is concluded that using snowballing, as a first search strategy, may very well be a good alternative to the use of database searches.
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In May 2005, Jim Foley (Board Chair of the Computing Research Association) published an abstract that was titled with these words: "Computing, We Have a Problem …". The main purpose of Dr. Foley's article was to discuss the image problem within computing, that "the public does not fully understand, and hence does not appreciate, what computing is and why computing and computing research are important" [1]. He then considered the consequences of this image problem (e.g., decreased enrollments in computing degree programs) and stated what CRA planned to do to rectify the situation. While Dr. Foley's article did not mention women, minorities, or persons with disabilities, it is clear that several groups in our society are tremendously impacted by the image problem that exists within computing. In this article, we begin by discussing the lack of participation that exists for those who are trained in computing (i.e., people who have the skills to develop computer hardware and software). We then discuss why this digital divide should be of high concern to everyone, what we can learn from other previously male-dominated fields, what you can do to help improve the current situation, and what the future might hold.