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Gender Differences
in Computer Technology Achievement

Kimberly V. Hale

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This study examined gender differences in computer technology achievement. The setting was a central Georgia middle school. The participants were an intact group of 8th grade students in an Exploration of Technology class. A total of 64 children (32 boys and 32 girls), aged 13 and 14 years old, participated in this study. Scores from a pretest and posttest of male and female students were compared using Analysis of Covariance with repeated measures and gender as the factor. Analysis of data showed that there were gender differences in computer technology achievement. The findings were statistically significant. The results confirmed earlier findings and added to our knowledge about achievement in computer technology.

Students in the Classroom


Computers are commonly identified with the areas of mathematics and science, areas in which for many years there has been a widespread concern about sex-related differences. It is not surprising, therefore, to find similar differences emerging in the area of computers. Much research and discussion have gone into investigating gender differences in students at all grade levels in learning and achievement in the areas of mathematics, science, and technology. The research literature on computer education has examined gender differences since the early 1980s (Young, 2000). In the educational research literature, various factors associated with gender differences have been explored in connection to computer technology achievement.

Many factors in and outside the classroom result in girls being turned away from computer technology (Koch, 1994). These factors include the media depicting men as experts in technology, societal expectations of different goals for boys and girls, the structure of learning tasks, the nature of feedback in performance situations, and the organization of classroom seating. Because these factors are often subtle, they go unnoticed. It is little wonder why girls are not interested in computer technology.

Research on gender differences in behavior toward computers has increased in the past 20 years. Numerous articles have been written focusing on differences regarding computer aptitude and actual computer use. Kay (1992) defined aptitude in respect to general application software, awareness, experience, terminology, general programming, word processing, and games.

In a pilot study by Pryor in 1995, boys achieved much better results than girls. For boys, the application of the finished task was less likely to be questioned and a sense of purpose came from the achievement of the goal. The process was important because it allowed boys to work with hardware and make things happen. For girls, the goal was important if it had some application and seemed to be leading somewhere. The process was significant to girls because it gave them a sense of camaraderie with a partner. Statistics in this case study showed that more boys than girls use computers.

Gender differences in response to computers have been widely reported by various experts in the educational field. Computers are not inherently biased. However, the way computers are used can often reinforce gender bias. Parents and teachers should be sensitive to cultural biases and strive to expose both sexes to the advantages of computer technology. New ideas should be devised in order to promote greater gender equity in computer use and help close the technological gap between boys and girls (Dorman, 1998).

Educators need to link the curriculum and technology with student interests. Both male and female students use computer applications that can be linked to the educational setting, such as word processing, accessing information, and completing homework, reports, and projects. But students also use computers for communication, self-expression, and personal interest (Houtz, 2001). How females relate to technology and the value they bring to technology are often ignored or devalued in education. Once educators begin to understand how girls lose interest in technology and recognize the different learning styles of each gender, strides can be made in supporting girls and women in choosing computer-related careers and using computers as a medium of expression.

Previous research has consistently documented gender differences in computer achievement. From these findings, one would expect to see males with higher achievement levels than females. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were gender differences in computer achievement based on the results from repeated testing measures. This study investigated gender differences in computer technology achievement.

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2005
ISSN 1097 9778
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