Remote Software Development

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Remote Software Development

In this episode, we speak with Denae Ford, a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. Her study is focused on the intersection of software engineering and human-computer interaction (HCI). Denae joins us today to speak about her latest surveys on remote work, social communities, and human-computer interaction.

She started by outlining the key research questions that HCI researchers focus on - primarily how software engineers use technological systems. Some of the systems she spoke about include StackOverflow and GitHub. 

Speaking of StackOverflow, Denae revealed some of the shocking findings from her survey on gender representation on the platform. Denae also discussed the approaches that can be used to solve marginalization on online forums. That would first involve identifying and mapping out a list of barriers that the marginalized group is facing. She further explained actionable steps that can be done to improve community engagement across the board. 

Denae then spoke about her new study on the impact COVID-19 pandemic on remote work. The productivity of workers, before and after remote work became widespread, was one of the tracked indicators. Communication was another. She disclosed her findings with respect to these two metrics. Going forward, she extensively spoke about practical recommendations for a more productive remote work system. 

Denae also touched on the projections for the future - whether remote work is here to stay or if we are going to massively get back to in-office activities. In closing, the Senior Researcher gave a piece of advice to employers for better organization work. She also spoke about her new survey: ”How Was Your Weekend?” Software Development Teams Working From Home During COVID-19. Interestingly, the results from the new survey corroborated the findings from the earlier one. 

Denae is also looking at research works around trust-building in online communities and what the next generation of developers would look like. You can catch up on all of her works on her website or her Google Scholar page. A large chunk of her research is posted on the Microsoft research blog.

Denae Ford

Dr. Denae Ford Robinson is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research in the SAINTes group and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Human Centered Design and Engineering Department at the University of Washington. Her research lies at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction and Software Engineering. In her work she identifies and dismantles cognitive and social barriers by designing mechanisms to support software developer participation in online socio-technical ecosystems. She is best known for her research on just-in-time mentorship as a mode to empower welcoming engagement in collaborative Q&A for online programming communities including open-source software and work to empower marginalized software developers in online communities.

She received her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University. She also received her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Graduate Minor in Cognitive Science from North Carolina State University. She is also a recipient of the National GEM Consortium Fellowship, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowship.

Her research publications can be found under her pen name 'Denae Ford'. More information about her latest research can be found on her website:

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