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Beyond the Boolean: How Programmers Ask About, Use, and Discuss Gender

by   Elijah Bouma-Sims, et al.
Carnegie Mellon University
George Washington University

Categorization via gender is omnipresent throughout society, and thus also computing; gender identity is often requested of users before they use software or web services. Despite this fact, no research has explored how software developers approach requesting gender disclosure from users. To understand how developers think about gender in software, we present an interview study with 15 software developers recruited from the freelancing platform Upwork as well as Twitter. We also collected and categorized 917 threads that contained keywords relevant to gender from programming-related sub-forums on the social media service Reddit. 16 posts that discussed approaches to gender disclosure were further analyzed. We found that while some developers have an understanding of inclusive gender options, programmers rarely consider when gender data is necessary or the way in which they request gender disclosure from users. Our findings have implications for programmers, software engineering educators, and the broader community concerned with inclusivity.


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