Mary Kate Comer

Mary Kate Comer

Making Removing Unconscious Bias Unconscious with a Linter

About the talk: 

In this talk, Mary Kate will share a linter she developed to curb the use of non-inclusive language, to be applied to writing documents or code. Not only does this linter provide helpful alternatives, it can be customized. This helps not only with documentation, but how we speak to each other.

Unconscious bias comes in many forms like the language we use in day to day conversations or the "in-speak" and jargon of different companies, industries, specialties, and groups. If you take a look at language, you may be surprised to find some common terms and phrases ableist, gendered, or born out of race. In this talk, Mary Kate Comer will share a linter she developed to help curb the use of that language, to be applied to writing documents or code. From the obvious "white list" v "black list" or the terms "master" and "slave" which are common in engineering, to some that you just might not think about. Not only does this linter provide helpful alternatives and suggestions, it can be customized by each organization, to learn and grow it's inclusive word banks. This helps not only with documentation, but can also be used as a learning tool to support change in how we speak to each other.

About the author:

Mary Kate Comer is a NYC based Senior Software Engineer in the Commercial Software Engineering team (CSE) at Microsoft. She describes herself as “T-shaped” software developer and technical lead. Within CSE, she enjoys the exposure to different tech stacks and domain spaces. She also contributes to an open source inclusive linting tool used to promote inclusive language throughout CSE's documentation and code. Prior to Microsoft, Mary Kate designed and developed enterprise-scale software applications for various US D.O.D clients and was recognized by the US D.O.D for excellence in leadership as she led development teams through time-sensitive deployments of mission-critical software. In her free time, she enjoys exploring different neighborhoods in NYC, skiing out west, hiking, and fiddling at her neighborhood pub. 

 

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