Student profile

Riya Dutta

Master of Applied Science (MASc)
Software Engineering

It wasn’t my plan to do a master’s, but Dr. Tajmel recruited me and encouraged me to pursue this degree.

Tell us about your research.

I’m pursuing a Master’s in Software Engineering and through my research, I examine how diversity is embedded in software engineering research, particularly research that involves participant studies.

Diversity and inclusion are essential in shaping technological innovation for the benefit of society. A common indicator of diversity consideration is the representation of different social groups among software engineering researchers, developers, and students. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean diversity is considered in the software engineering research itself.

My research involves selecting research papers from the International Conference of Software Engineering technical track and identifying specific words and phrases that refer to the characterization of participants, using defined coding categories and a coding scheme. The aim is to identify how software engineering researchers report the various diversity categories and how these diversity categories play a role in their research.

I hope this work will shed light on new approaches to tackling the diversity and inclusion crisis in the software engineering field.

What did your path to graduate studies look like?

I joined the Women in Engineering association during my undergrad in Software Engineering, and that really sparked my interest in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). In the last year of my undergrad, I was the President of the association. In my final semester, I took a mandatory engineering course called “Impact of technology on society” with Dr. Tanja Tajmel, which furthered my knowledge of EDI.

It wasn’t my plan to pursue a master’s, but Dr. Tajmel recruited me and encouraged me. She offered me the opportunity to combine my background in software engineering and my passion for EDI into research. At the time, I didn’t know combining these two vastly different fields, in a technical, science-based degree, was even possible.

I am incredibly happy with my decision and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my parents and professors. Dr. Tanja Tajmel, along with my co-supervisor Dr. Emad Shiab, also made it possible by providing bursaries to help cover my tuition.

What’s the best part of your program?

The best part is I get to work on something I love. Every day is different and undiscovered. It can be challenging because, with research, you don’t always know how things are going to go, but that’s also what makes it exciting.

If two years ago someone had told me I would be a scientist doing EDI research in the field of software engineering, I would not have believed them. But here I am!

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