Gender Diversity in Computing: An Environmental Perspective

Cecille Marsh
InSITE 2008  •  Volume 8  •  2008
Previous research conducted by the author investigated the socio-political backgrounds of two groups of female students studying computer-related university programmes. They came from distinctly different backgrounds and were enrolled at two institutions with very different legacies. The author found that socio-political factors, in particular the role of a dominant female household head and aggressive governmental affirmative action, had a significant effect on the girls’ levels of confidence and subsequently on their decision to study computer-related courses. Based on this insight, the researcher undertook to look further into gender diversity with respect to self-perceived general computer confidence and self-perceived ability to program a computer. A sample of both female and male Information T echnology students from very similar disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds was surveyed. The sample of 204 students was drawn from all three years of the National Diploma in Information Technology. The author considered the following research questions: (i) Do males and females studying computer-related courses have differing computer selfefficacy levels? (ii) Do males and females studying computer programming have differing attitudes towards their ability to program? (iii) Do males and females differ in their attitudes towards the programming learning environment?
Computer self-efficacy, gender and computing, computer programming, gender stereotyping
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