Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2003

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Abstract

Although some observed differences in males' and females' attitudes toward and uses of computers appear to be narrowing, the gender gap remains widest in relation to programming and software design, which are still male preserves. In response, software and Web site designers have applied feminist theories to develop three distinct approaches to creating content for girls that might increase their interest in computers. These approaches involve appealing to girls' traditional “feminine” interests, nontraditional “masculine” interests, and gender-neutral interests. This study proposes that to bridge today's gender gap, prior approaches need to integrate appeals to girls' traditional and nontraditional interests, and focus content more clearly on learning about computer design itself. An experimental test of this integrative strategy, used to develop a prototype World Wide Web site tested on girls in their homes (n = 125), obtained significant increases in the treatment group's interest in, sense of relevancy of, and motivation to use computers, compared to a control group.

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