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I LIKE Computers versus I LIKERT Computers: Rethinking Methods for Assessing the Gender Gap in Computing



There is a burgeoning body of research on gender differences in computing attitudes and behaviors. After a decade of experience, researchers from both inside and outside the field of educational computing research are raising methodological and conceptual issues which suggest that perhaps researchers have shortchanged girls and women in documenting the computer gender gap. A need is identified for more research on computing activities which are not related to mathematics or programming and which look at what women and girls do like about computers. A multi-week observational study of gender-sensitive computer attitudes in a gender-sensitive context was conducted in a suburban high school in Massachusetts during the spring of 1990, using the Personal Media Studio, Macintosh HyperCard-based multimedia writing software. This study involved 42 adolescents (25 females, 17 males), in two low-middle ability sophomore English classes. Ranging in age from 14-17, the students were racially and ethnically diverse. The results showed that females expressed positive, enthusiastic, and confident feelings about computers, and it was concluded that Likert scale computer attitude surveys are an example of the mismeasure of women. This report reviews the literature on gender differences in computing attitudes and behaviors and examines the research results in terms of: (1) methodological issues; (2) measurement instrument formats; (3) controversies regarding attitude research; (4) feminist challenges; (5) underlying assumptions about the computer; and (6) insufficient contextual details. Seven tables display the data and an extensive bibliography is provided. (ALF)


Morse, F.K. & Daiute, C. I LIKE Computers versus I LIKERT Computers: Rethinking Methods for Assessing the Gender Gap in Computing. Retrieved April 6, 2020 from .

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