Saturday, June 2, 2018

Gender and Computers

In the Project CATE (Children’s Access to and Use of Technology Evaluation), based on grades 4–8 children’s responses from surveys, focus group participations, and observations in the Saint Louis Public Library, girls’ attitudes toward computers and toward their skill level were equally as positive as those of their male counterparts. Girls differed little from boys in what they wanted to learn and how they used computers, with games the largest portion of observed computer use for both genders. Eighty-five parents queried by survey and ten by focus group responded very similarly about their children’s attitudes and use. Juxtaposing this study with other contemporary research findings suggests that some former research results, as well as conventional wisdom about gender differences in relation to computers, no longer hold true for net-generation youth. The need for moving on beyond these already-addressed issues into more sophisticated analyses is established. The Project CATE study is unique in speaking to these gender-related questions in a public library setting. The results draw attention to the public library as a venue for studying informal use of computers and for self-generated information seeking and recreation, as well as homework-related use, in a gender-neutral environment.

Dresang, E. T., Gross, M., & Holt, L. (2007). New perspectives: An analysis of gender, net-generation children, and computers. Library Trends, 56(2), 360-386.

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