You are here:

Gendering the ICT curriculum: The paradox of choice

Computers & Education Volume 53, Number 2, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This paper looks at the ICT (information and communication technology) curriculum in New Zealand secondary schools and gendered participation patterns in different specialist ICT subjects. New Zealand has a permissive ICT curriculum, comprising a variety of subjects and characterised by choice and variation in the curriculum in practice at the local level. The data that are reported include results of (i) a national questionnaire survey of secondary schools, and (ii) a qualitative case study conducted in a large, co-educational New Zealand secondary school and involving classroom observations and interviews with teachers and students. It is suggested that the permissiveness of the curriculum, which ostensibly caters for the needs of students by providing choices, may, in some circumstances, effectively reinforce gender stereotypes relating to computer interests and practices. This is a paradox of choice. Questions are raised about the nature of the ICT curriculum in New Zealand and how it may contribute to or challenge gender stereotypes, future curriculum developments and, more broadly, how we can account for persistent gendered participation patterns in ICT subjects in schools.


Abbiss, J. (2009). Gendering the ICT curriculum: The paradox of choice. Computers & Education, 53(2), 343-354. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 29, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

Full text is availabe on Science Direct:


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact