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Age and gender differences in computer use and attitudes among secondary school students: what has changed?

By Ann Colley and Christopher Comber


The present study examined possible changes in the computer experience and attitudes of 11-12-year-old and 15-16-year-old students following a period in which ICT has become much more widely used in the school curriculum. In comparison with findings from a similar study undertaken in the early 1990s, there was some evidence of a reduced gender gap, particularly in the use of computers for applications such as word-processing, graphics, programming and maths. In addition, more recently introduced applications such as e-mail, accessing the internet and using CD-ROMs showed no overall gender difference in frequency of use. However, some gender differences remained, particularly in attitudes. Boys still liked computers more, were more self-confident in their use and, unlike previously, sex-typed them less than girls. They also used computers more frequently out of school, particularly for playing games. There was some evidence that, as found previously, older girls held the least positive attitudes, and it is suggested that their approach to computers may be influenced by the cultural pressures of gender stereotyping. More general age differences in use and attitudes were also found, and these may result from the different computing applications used by Year 7 and Year 11 pupils at school. In summary, although we found evidence of some change since the early 1990s, increased exposure to computes has not closed the gender gap

Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1080/0013188032000103235
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