Computers and Gender Bias Cause and Effect

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Computers and Gender Bias  Cause and Effect Powered By Docstoc
					David Ader
Technology and Diversity

                       Computers and Gender Bias: Cause and Effect

       A nine-month poll of 1,200 families revealed that before the fourth through seventh

grades, girls are on the computer one hour more per week than young boys. After the

seventh grade, girls’ loose ground to boys in terms of ours spent on the computer. By high

school, girls are less likely than boys to join computer clubs or take computer courses

( Boys are thought to prefer games and more often

than girls, view the computer as a “toy”. Girls see the computer as a tool, a machine that

can do something useful. Sometimes advertisers and manufactures portray computers and

software in a different ways when selling software to boys and girls. Take for example in

2000 Matel released the Barbie PC, a pink, Barbie-themed computer for girls. Matel also

released a computer for boys, the Hot Wheels PC. Matel also deal you say! Well, at least

on the outside of these isn’t much to the concerned about. The big difference between the

computers is not found within their hardware, but their software. Software tittles that were

not added to the Barbie PC but were on the Hot Wheels PC are Body Works, a human

anatomy program and Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, which is a 3-D visualization

game. Other game not found on the Barbie PC included The Clue Finders Math 9-12,

Compton’s Complete Reference Collection and Kid Pix Studio. Many complained to

Matel about the software packages on the Barbie PC because it did not include educational

software like that found on the Hot Wheels PC. Matel responded to those complaints by

explaining that the popular Barbie programs such as Barbie Fashion Designer left less room

for educational software on the girl’s computer

( There are other examples of gender
biases other than the Matel example. Listed below are some of the ways in which gender

biases are formed.

       1. Teachers and parents assume that girls are not as interested as boys in

           computers and therefore encourage them less.

       2. There are few adult and peer female role models.

       3. Computers are associated with machines and math, both of which are thought of

           as male domains.

       4. Software has not been developed with girls’ interest in mind.

       5. Computers are used less in language arts and humanities classrooms where

           teachers tend to be female and the population of girls are more dominant

( Gender differences in computer

use have also been associated with differential socialization of boys and girls in homes

where fathers and bothers use the computers the most or TV where males are most often

portrayed in computer-related roles in programs and commercials

( When boys become men and girls become women,

gender bias remains the same as each enter college. Women, on average, enter computer

science programs with less programming experience than men. For example, 38 percent of

first year men had self-initiated out-of-school programming experience while only 10

percent of women had such experience. Women who have equal the amount of

programming experience as men are still likely to encounter gender bias, through

comments made by their male counterparts. An example of such comments would be; Gee

this is so easy why are you still working on it, you’re such a sorry programmer, and bet you

got in this class because you’re a girl

(,1284,41399,00.html). Computing needs to be made

more accessible to both on an equal basis. To meet these goals, educators should
encourage young girls to explore computer programming and teach them how computers

interact with other fields of interest.,1284,41399,00.html).

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