Urban African American women and computers: A qualitative study
Samuel Martin Hampton, Cleveland State University, United States
Cleveland State University . Awarded
Among the problems faced by urban communities are the difficulties in accessing computer-based technology. Computers are not readily available in some urban inner-city communities, and the residents who reside in these communities, the majority of whom are African Americans, miss out on the beneficial opportunities regarding access to computers. This is a qualitative investigation on how African American women from an urban community learn computer technology. In addition to the investigation of African American computer users, this study provides a descriptive profile of the community-based agency providing access to computers. My role in the study and for the purpose of the investigation, was to serve as an instructor of a ten-week computer course, in addition to providing technical support for the participating agency in which the primary client-base is African American women.
The following questions guided the study: (1) What is the degree to which computer technology in general is rejected or embraced by urban African American women? (2) What are the experiences and perceptions of urban African American women who participate in a computer course offered by a community-based agency? (3) Will participation in a community-based, agency-sponsored computer course have an impact on the community? (4) Does computer skills training have an impact on the lives of urban African American women? The methods of data collection include participant observation, open-ended interviews, student-journals and recorded class sessions.
The women who took part in the computer course gave impressions of accomplishment and achievement by demonstrating a personal investment through participating and completion of projects and assignments. The agency under study demonstrated that negative perceptions of computers can change through face-to-face interaction with computer systems. Many of the women expressed cultural pride through participating in the course, providing a positive example for others. Learning about the computer allowed the participants to stay current in the world they live in and embody a greater feeling of social equality.
Hampton, S.M. Urban African American women and computers: A qualitative study. Ph.D. thesis, Cleveland State University.
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