Keynote speaker Prof. Alexander Serebrenik

Gender and Software Development


Bio: Alexander Serebrenik is a full professor of social software engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. His research goal is to facilitate evolution of software by taking into account social aspects of software development. His work tends to involve theories and methods both from within computer science (e.g., theory of socio-technical coordination; methods from natural language processing, machine learning) and from outside of computer science (e.g., organisational psychology). The underlying idea of his work is that of empiricism, i.e., that addressing software engineering challenges should be grounded in observation and requires a combination of the social and the technical perspectives. Alexander has co-authored a book “Evolving Software Systems” (Springer Verlag, 2014), and more than 230 scientific papers and articles. He is actively involved in organisation of scientific conferences and is member of the editorial board of several journals. He has won multiple best paper and distinguished reviewer awards. Alexander is a senior member of IEEE and a member of ACM. Contact him at

Software is being developed for people and by people. So, it is not surprising that differences between the people developing software are reflected in how software is developed and what the resulting software looks like. Moreover, as software influences society and is influenced by it, we need to create better software to create a better society and we need to create a better software world to create better software. I am using the word ‘world’ here in a very broad sense to encompass groups of different sizes and scales, companies and open-source communities involving professional developers and people developing software who do not see themselves as developers, such as research engineers or accountants working with Excel.

In this talk I will provide an overview of our research of diversity and inclusion in software engineering, focusing on gender diversity. Given a long-standing association of women and communication mediation, we have conducted a series of studies relating gender diversity to presence of suboptimal communication patterns known as ‘community smells’, as well as comparing the results of the data analysis with developers’ perception. To get further insights in the relation between gender and community smells, we replicate our study focusing on the Brazilian software teams; indeed, culture-specific expectations on the behaviour of people of different genders might have affected the perception of the importance of gender diversity and refactoring strategies when mitigating community smells. Next, we shift the gears and taking the intersectional perspective we focus on specific experiences of two groups of women in software engineering: transgender women and veteran women.