Team diversity refers to the individual differences between members of a team. It can be present on various dimensions such as value diversity (e.g., beliefs, goals, values), information diversity (e.g., experience, knowledge, background ), and social diversity (e.g., gender, age, race). This seminar course explores the various aspects of diversity that has been studied from a software engineering perspective. We hope to provide a foundation for understanding the current state of the art in this area.


Classes starts May 11 2021.
No office hours - Email me when you have a question.
Contact Instructor: Mei Nagappan . Please prefix the subject line of your email with the code [CS846] for a timely reply.

We have a few main objectives in this course:

  • Be able to read and understand a paper
  • Write the summary of the paper
  • Identify the diversity issues (e.g., biases, barriers, correlations, etc) pointed out in the paper
  • Critically think to see what mitigation strategies can be made
  • Work in a team to carry out a full research project on a topic similar to the papers discussed in the class
  • Write a paper documenting the results of your project

The entire class will be done virtually. We will meet on Zoom every Tuesday at 10.30 AM - 12.30 PM EST. The passcode will be emailed to you. All classes will be recorded and the videos made available in Learn.

For Weekly Paper Discussions

  • A detailed schedule is available here.
  • Every Friday (before the Tuesday) by 5.00 PM: Each student will upload a critique (details below on what is expected in a critique) as a review for every paper from that week (see schedule above) to the appropriate dropbox in Learn. All three critiques for the three papers will be concatenated into one PDF document.
  • Every Friday (before the Tuesday) by 6.00 PM:The collection of all the critiques from everyone in class will be made available for entire class in this CS Vault Folder (see week appropriate sub-folder)
  • Every Tuesday at 10.30 AM: We will discuss the 3 papers assigned to that week during the class meeting time mentioned above. Each paper's discussion will be led by one student. This student should look through the CS Vault folder for the critiques from other students so that they can call upon other students and lead the discussions. More details on the discussion are below.
For Project
  • Presentations: There will be 3 presentations: proposal, progress and final.
  • Review: Each project will be reviewed like a conference paper by three other students. Submissions will be single blind. The author student will not know who reviewed their paper but the reviewing students will know whose paper they are reviewing.
  • This shall be done 3 times: proposal, mid-term report and final paper. (Expectations for each are below).
Important Note: While students are peer-reviewing other students' work, only I am responsible for grades. So please provide detailed feedback. Each student is graded for the feedback they give. Announcements: Any and all announcements will be made at the bottom of this page. Please book mark it and keep track.

Students are expected to have some background in software development and software engineering. Knowledge of data mining, survey or data analysis techniques will be beneficial.

Students will be evaluated using the following breakdown:
1. Weekly critique (24% - 1% for each paper):
Each week, each student should critique all the papers for that week and submit one 500 word critique of the paper by the Friday (before the Tuesday) 5 PM.

The critique is limited to 500 words for each paper. Please upload one PDF per week with all the three critiques for that week. Label each critique with which paper it is for. all three of these requirements are serious and strictly enforced! Non compliance will result in a zero for that week. This is to make everyone's life slightly easier.

  1. Objective: What is the goal for the study?
  2. Methodology: How did they carry out the study? Was it quantitative analysis of data from a repo? Which repo? Or was it a survey/iterview based study? Who did they survey?
  3. Results: What did the authors report as results of the paper?
  4. Takeaway: What was your main takeaway from the paper now that you have read it?
  5. What can we do (mitigation strategies): This is the critical thinking part of your critique. Each paper identifies diversity issues (e.g., biases, barriers, correlations, etc) in processes or in some aspect of software development. Now that you know this, what will you suggest to mitigate them? What is practical, what is a small step or what is revolutionary mitigation strategies that can be taken to minimize the diversity issue?

2. Weekly Discussion (16% - 2% for each week):
Discussions will happen every week on Tuesday's from 10.30 AM - 12.30 PM EST. Students are expected to come prepared to discuss the paper. We will discuss mainly the mitigation strategies brought up in the critique. The goal for this is to see which points you missed in the critique or have a contradictory point with another critique. Engage with the class to understand why a student came up with a particular intervention. Discuss why or why not certain mitigation strategies may be better than others.

Given that within the template and word limit of the critique above, no student will be able to write up every intervention. Hence, every student is expected to participate in the discussion every week.

Note: You do not lose grade points for missing something or for misunderstanding something. So please question and discuss your reviews thoroughly. I will be asking some questions here as well.

3. Discussion Lead (10%):
Each paper will be assigned to one student who will act as the discussion lead. There are two distinct tasks here each Tuesday:
  1. They will briefly present the Objective, Results and Takeaway of the paper they are assigned to. This will be the first 5 minutes of the presentation. The student does not have to report just from critique, but can use information gathered from reading all the other critiques that will be available the Friday before. They will then present the complete list of mitigation strategies from all the critiques submitted on the Friday before. This will be the next 5-10 minutes of the presentation. Please upload this presentation to the appropriate folder in Learn before class starts.
  2. They will then lead the discussion on the mitigation strategies. They will call upon specific students so that all the mitigation strategies are discussed. The goal is to see which mitigation strategies are easy, which will have the most impact etc.

4. Project (50%):
One project (6-8 pages ACM format) done in a team of 3. The project will be an original project similar to one of the papers covered in the course or on any other aspect of diversity in SE.
Milestone 1 (15%): You need to submit a project proposal (2 pages ACM format) by week 5. The proposal should provide:
  1. A brief description of your idea.
  2. A motivation for why you want to do this paper.
  3. The related (what other similar work is there) and background (what do I need to know to understand your paper) work.
  4. The various hypothesis that would tested.
  5. A detailed discussion of what data will be used?
  6. The proposal paper is 5% of the grade.
  7. The proposal presentation is 5%.
  8. Reviewing another team's proposal and giving feedback on what is feasible and what is missing is 5% of the grade.

Milestone 2 (15%): About 1 month before end of term, you will update the proposal and add 2 pages about the progress made in the project.
  1. What data has been collected?
  2. How did you actually collect the data?
  3. What methodology will you use for the analyses?
  4. The updated part carries another 5% of the grade.
  5. The presentation to the class is 5%.
  6. Reviewing another team's updated document to give feedback on where the data collection or analyses methodology might have threats or is incorrect. This is 5% of the grade.

Milestone 3 (20%): By the end of the term you will complete the project. You will provide:
  1. A written report for 6-8 pages. This is updating your previous document (of 4 pages) with the results, discussions, threats, and conclusion sections. This is 10% of your grade.
  2. Presentation to the class is 5%.
  3. Reviewing another team's final project report to give feedback on the: importance and quality of contribution, study methodology, depth of the discussion on the implications of the replicated results, amount of useful and actionable insights, and clarity of the presentation. This is 5% of the grade.

Each milestone will be graded according to depth of your work, and the presentation quality of your written report. Advice on writing a project report are here.

You will get 5% of the grade for each of the reviews as noted above. You will be given 1 week from each submission date for submitting reviews.

Note: The reviews from other teams does not affect the grade of the student. I will solely make this conclusion. So please be critical since you are evaluated for how well you peer-review a paper.

Administrative Notes

Land Acknowledgement

As a settler, I want to acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Truth & Reconciliation Response Projects.

Mental Health Support

The Faculty of Math encourages students to seek out mental health support if needed. On-campus Resources:

  • Campus Wellness
  • Counselling Services: 519-888-4567 ext 32655
  • MATES: one-to-one peer support program offered by Waterloo Undergraduate Student
  • Association (WUSA) and Counselling Services:
  • Health Services: located across the creek from the Student Life Centre, 519-888-4096.
Off-campus Resources:
  • Good2Talk (24/7): Free confidential helpline for post-secondary students. Phone: 1-866-925-5454 (Ontario and Nova Scotia only)
  • Here 24/7: Mental Health and Crisis Service Team. Phone: 1-844-437-3247 (Waterloo Region only)
  • OK2BME: Set of support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning teens. Phone: 519-884-0000 extension 213 (Waterloo Region only)
  • EMPOWER ME 1-833-628-5589 for Cdn./USA other countries see:
  • EMPOWER ME in China: China North 108007142831; China South 108001402851
Diversity: It is our intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course and that students' learning needs be addressed both in and out of class. We recognize the immense value of the diversity in identities, perspectives, and contributions that students bring, and the benefit it has on our educational environment. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let us know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups. In particular:
  • We will gladly honour your request to address you by an alternate/preferred name or gender pronoun. Please advise us of this preference early in the term so we may make appropriate changes to our records.
  • We will honour your religious holidays and celebrations. Please inform of us these at the start of the course.
  • We will follow AccessAbility Services guidelines and protocols on how to best support students with different learning needs.

Academic Integrity

  • In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.]


  • A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt, please be certain to contact the department's administrative assistant who will provide further assistance. , Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4.


  • A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.] A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about "rules" for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor, or the undergraduate associate dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student Discipline. For typical penalties check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.


  • A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) (other than a petition) or Policy 71 (Student Discipline) may be appealed if there is a ground.
  • A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72 (Student Appeals).