Gender and computers: similarities and differences in Iranian college students attitudes toward computers

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1 Computers & Education 37 (2001) Gender and computers: similarities and differences in Iranian college students attitudes toward computers Lily Shashaani a, *, Ashmad Khalili b a Department of Math/Computer Science, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282, USA b Slippery Rock University, USA Received 11 December 2000; accepted 15 August 2001 Abstract This study surveys attitudes about computers among 375 Iranian undergraduate students (155 males and 220 females). We found significant gender differences with respect to confidence about computers and stereotypic views of computer users. Women showed stronger beliefs in equal gender ability and competence in use of computers, but expressed low confidence in their own ability to work with computers. There were no significant gender differences in respondents liking for computers or their perceptions of the usefulness of computers. Male and female students believed equally in the positive effects of computers on individuals and society. Results also are discussed in terms of parents perceived beliefs and behaviors, as well as their socioeconomic status (SES.) # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Gender; Computers; Attitudes; SES; Iran 1. Introduction The gender gap in computer has interested computer and social scholars since the early 1980s. However, little progress has been made in closing or narrowing the gap between men and women in computer science careers. During the 1980s and 1990s, research indicated the underrepresentation of women in computing technology (Anderson, Welch, & Harris, 1996; Bunderson & Christensen, 1995; Collis, 1985b; DeBare, 1996; Miura, 1986; Reinen & Plomp, 1993; Shashaani, 1997). More recent studies have revisited the issue of gender differences in computing. The gender gap that has been present for some time still persists at the beginning of the new millennium. * Corresponding author. Tel.: ; fax: address: (L. Shashaani) /01/$ - see front matter # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S (01)

2 364 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Researchers argue that girls are still missing out on high-tech careers. According to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation, women make up half of the workforce, but only 20% of these woman are working in high-tech jobs (Workfile Report, 1999). In 1999, the AAUW, in its study of technology issues in a large suburban school system, reported that female students of all ethnic groups rated themselves lower than male students in computer ability. The AAUW report highlights the gender differences in computing: the investigators state that girls have developed a significantly different relationship to computer technology than boys, and warn us that computer technology may intensify rather than reduce gender inequalities (American Association of University Women, 1999). The findings of this study are echoed by other researchers. According to a recent report by Tracy Camp, a professor and co-chairperson of the Association for Computing Machinery Committee for Women (ACM-W), the proportion of women earning bachelor s degrees in computer science at colleges and universities in the United States declined from a high of 28.4% in to a low of 16.4% in (Camp, 1997). Camp and Davies predicted that this trend will continue (Davies & Camp, 2000). According to their research, females account for only 17% of undergraduate computer science students in higher educational institutions offering PhD programs in the United States. Although the number of students in computer science has increased, the percentage of female students has declined. The findings of these new studies on gender differences in computing highlight once again the existence of gender inequality in using technology. Although researchers dispute the causes of gender differences in computing, they generally agree that more research is needed to address the issue and to overcome the problem. 2. Research background Studies of gender differences in attitudes towards computer technology tend to focus on several areas including men s and women s interests in computers, their perceptions of computers, their level of confidence and self-efficacy when working with computers, stereotypical views about computer users, the effect of experience and access to computers, and whether math anxiety transcends computer anxiety among male and female students. Below we summarize the findings of selected studies regarding women in computing. Several studies have shown that at all educational levels, boys show more interest than girls in learning about computers, find working with computers more enjoyable, and have greater access to computers (Badagliacco, 1990; Ogletree & Williams, 1990; Shashaani, 1994a). Massoud (1991) found that male students had more computer-related interests than female students and were more confident in their ability to use computers. Reinen and Plomp (1997) also reported that female students knew less about information technology, and enjoyed using it less than males. On the basis of a survey of 1730 high school students, Shashaani (1993) found that male students were more interested in computing and had more confidence in their ability to work with computers. Research also has revealed that men hold more gender-typed views about computer users than do women. Female students believe more consistently than do comparable male students that women are equal in ability and competence in using computers (Levin & Gordon, 1989; Smith, 1986). Shashaani in her survey of 1750 high school students found that female students had a

3 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) stronger belief in the equality of both sexes for participating in computer activities (Shashaani, 1993). Several studies have examined the relationship between gender and perception of the usefulness of computer technologies. Koohang (1989) found that male college students rated computers as more useful than did female students. Shashaani (1997) investigated the attitudes of 202 college students and found no significant gender differences in the perceived usefulness of computers. Both men and women were aware that knowledge of computers is important for obtaining a job, saves time and work, and is useful for data processing and problem solving. Zhang and Espinoza (1998) reported that in their survey, students self-recognition of usefulness of computers and their perception of advanced levels of computer technologies were significant predictors of the desirability of learning computing skills. Francis (1994), in her survey of 378 undergraduates, did not find any significant gender differences with respect to three subscales: computer anxiety, computer liking, and confidence about using computers. Research also has shown gender differences in computer use and activities. More boys than girls enroll in computer classes, especially in programming and advanced computer courses (Shashaani, 1994a; Collis, Kass, & Kieren, 1989; Kersteen, Linn, Clancy, & Hardyck, 1988). Other studies report that the most reliable predictors of gender differences in computer attitudes are related to prior computer knowledge and experiences. Mitra (1998) noted that in her survey, respondents who used computers more frequently had a more positive attitude toward computers on all the attitude scales. International studies have also shown gender differences in attitudes toward computers. Makrakis and Sawada (1996) surveyed 773 Japanese and Swedish students, and found that males scored higher on aptitude and liking for computers and on rating of computers usefulness. In the study of Canadian and Chinese adolescents attitudes toward computers, Collis and Williams (1987) found that in both countries boys were more positive than girls in the attitudes towards computers and showed higher self-confidence about working with computers. Henwood (1999) shows that computer science programs in colleges in the United Kingdom indeed reinforce the gender stereotype and make women s success in this field more difficult. Martin, Heller and Mahmoud studied the attitudes of eight to twelve year old American and Soviet children s responses to attitude items and their drawings of computer users and found that children from both countries showed similar and positive attitudes towards computers. The study revealed significant gender differences in the drawing of computer users. Boys mostly drew males whereas girls mostly drew females as computer users, which indicates that children s image of computer users reflect their own gender (Martin, Heller, & Mahmoud, 1992). A national survey of more than 3000 secondary school students in Canada revealed significant gender differences in frequency of usage of computers within every subject area as well as in computer courses. The social and personal variables related to expectations about the image of computer users in a school setting are indicated as major factors in gender differences in access to and usage of computers (Collis et al., 1989). The debate about gender inequality in computer science has received significant input from researchers who recognize the importance of social and cultural environments in explaining gender differences in attitudes and in involvement in computer careers. According to advocates of socialization theory, men and women confront computers in different ways and with different

4 366 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) perceptions, based on social expectations from significant others including parents, teachers, and peer groups (Davies & Kandel, 1981; Houser & Garvey, 1985). Children acquire gender roles from agents of socialization. An individual s first exposure to the world occurs within the family, where he or she internalizes norms and beliefs, learns basic attitudes, acquires a self-image, and forms a sex-role identity. These behaviors are later reinforced or shaped in school, where society s basic culture and norms are transmitted formally to children. Two powerful forces in school play a crucial role in the socialization of students: teachers and counselors, who reward students with praise for proper or desirable behavior, and peer groups, who impose their unique culture on individual members. An individual s identity, selfimage, and eventually gender role are formed through exposure to these groups. Thus an individual s educational and occupational decisions are affected to some extent by these agents of socialization (Shashaani, 1993). Studies have shown that parents have different academic beliefs about male and female students (Leung, 1990): They credit daughters with more effort and sons with more talent for success in mathematical performance (Yee & Eccles, 1988). Parents influence students course selections directly by encouragement and by expressing their expectations for boys and girls successes or failures. They exert their influence indirectly by providing different information to boys and girls regarding the difficulty or the importance of the courses they choose to take (Eccles, Adler, & Kaczala, 1982; Eccles et al., 1983). Shashanni (1994b), in her survey of high school students, found that parents beliefs and advice are perceived by the students as important factors in their selection of courses, and that parental encouragement has a positive influence on both boys and girls attitudes toward computers. The effect of parents socioeconomic status on students educational expectations and achievement has been documented by several scholars (Majoribanks, 1990; Martini & Greenberger, 1978). Shashaani (1994b), in her study of high school students in grades 9 and 12, found that SES, indicating parents occupation and education, exerted a significant influence on students attitudes toward computers. She reported that gender differences in attitudes were more pronounced in the lower socioeconomic groups. Serbin et al. (1990), in their study of elementary school children, found that SES, especially maternal occupational levels and parental education, were the major factors in predicting children s school performance. This survey of the research leads us to conclude that gender differences in attitudes may derive from a number of different sources such as cultural beliefs, gender-role socialization, and lack of exposure to computers. The problem of gender inequality in computing is not restricted to the United States, other countries have faced such a problem as well. However, scholars have paid less attention to studying the gender and attitudes toward computers in different sociocultural environments. We designed the present study to examine the gender differences among undergraduate students in Iran. To achieve the above objective, we addressed the following questions: 1. Are there gender differences in attitudes (interest, confidence, stereotype, usefulness) toward computers among respondents in our sample? 2. Is there any association between students computer attitudes, on one hand, and parental beliefs and behavior, on the other? 3. How does the family s socioeconomic status (SES) affect students attitudes?

5 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Methodology 3.1. Subject and procedure The survey was administered in the year 2000 at two universities in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. The sample consisted of 375 undergraduate students (155 males and 220 females). Their ages ranged from 17 to 25, with a median of 20. The students were majoring in various fields such as computer science, mathematics, social science, engineering, agriculture, and chemistry. The Computer Attitude Survey, derived from the previous research (Shashaani, 1993), was used to measure the students attitudes toward computers. The questionnaire was translated into Persian and then back into English to confirm the adequacy of the instrument. To facilitate the data analysis, after calculating the mean score for each item separately, we grouped the items into four subscales: computer interest, computer confidence, computer stereotype, and perceived computer usefulness. Students also were surveyed on their perceptions of their parents and friends gender-stereotyped attitudes and on parental encouragement or discouragement to become involved in computing. Students responded to each question on a five-point scale (strongly disagree=1; strongly agree=5). To check the reliability of each student s response, the instrument contained both positively and negatively worded statements such as I would like to learn how to use computers and Computers do not interest me. We recoded the values of the negative statements before grouping them. Thus, for computer liking, computer confidence, and computer usefulness, higher scores indicate more positive attitudes toward computers. In the case of computer stereotypes, a higher score indicates a stronger belief in gender inequality. In addition to assessing family socioeconomic status, we collected data on father s occupation, father s education, mother s occupation, and mother s education. We assessed parents occupational levels from the Iran statistical year book (Statistical Center of Iran, 1999, p. 253) and categorized them into five groups: lower=1, lower-middle=2, middle=3, upper-middle=4, and upper=5. Parental education was coded as follows: No high school=1, some high school but no diploma=2, high school graduate=3, community college/bachelor s degree=4, master s degree=5, and PhD=6. Various statistical techniques were employed in this survey for data analysis. First, we used the Mann Whitney Test to measure male and female students attitudes. Then we calculated the Spearman rank correlation to measure the association between the dependent variable the computer attitude subscales and the independent variables perceived parental attitudes and parents socioeconomic status. 4. Results 4.1. Students attitudes towards computers We obtained mixed results on gender differences in attitudes toward computers in relation to the four subscales. The Mann Whitney Test on computer liking yielded no significant gender differences: both male and female students wanted to learn more about computers and enjoyed

6 368 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) working with computers. Although on each question the score was higher for male students than for female students, the differences were not significant. These findings are inconsistent with the previous research (Shashaani, 1997) in the United States, which found significant differences in computer interest between male and female college students. With respect to stereotypic views about computer users, our data revealed significant differences between male and female students (P<0.000). Females agreed more strongly that the genders are equally competent in computer use: the mean score for the stereotype sub-scale was lower for females than for males (X=3.98 for males; and X=2.02 for females). The higher score for males reveals that male students still largely perceive computers as a male field. Females strongly disagreed with the statement Men make better computer scientists and engineers than do women, and agreed with the statement Females have as much ability as males when learning to use a computer. Males were uncertain about both statements. Although the female students in our survey endorsed gender equality in ability to learn and use computers, they expressed different attitudes about their own personal abilities and competence to work with computers. Females felt more helpless around computers, stating that computers made them nervous and uncomfortable. They agreed, however, with the statement Given a little time and training, anybody could learn to use computers. The data analysis revealed a significant difference between genders in relation to computer confidence (P<0.01), indicating that females had low self-confidence in their ability with computers. We observed no significant gender difference regarding the perceived usefulness of computers. The mean responses for the two groups were very similar: both genders agreed that knowledge of computers is important for getting a job (X=4.0 for males; X=4.10 for females), for saving time and work (X=4.17 for males; X=4.20 for females), and is useful for data processing and problem solving (X=4.22 for males; X=4.13 for females). However, although all students believed equally that computers had a positive effect on individuals and society, they were concerned that computers in general may cause some people to lose their jobs (Table 1) Perceived parents and friends gender-stereotypic views and encouragement Studies have shown that students computer interests, confidence, and stereotypic views are related significantly to their perceptions of their parents stereotyped views. In our sample, both males and females tended to agree that their parents did not hold strongly different gender-based views about computer users, but the difference in perception of parents attitudes toward computers was significant by gender (P<0.000). Table 1 Mann Whitney test for computer attitude score by gender Male mean (S.D.) Female mean (S.D.) P4 Computer liking 4.44(0.49) 4.39(0.55) 0.57 Computer confidence 3.97(0.57) 3.06(0.74) 0.01 Stereotype view about computer users 3.88(0.79) 2.02(0.81) Computer usefulness 4.10(0.55) 4.01(0.52) 0.10

7 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Female students agreed less strongly that their parents believed that the computer is more appropriate for males than for females. More males agreed that they were encouraged by their parents to learn about computers (X=4.12 for males; X=3.40 for females). Female students agreed more strongly that their parents attitudes have been important in their decisions about their choice of classes (X=3.0 for males; X=3.85 for females). We also asked students about their friends opinions on gender equality. Females disagreed with the statement My friends believe that boys, not girls, are good at computer science (X=3.0 for males; X=2.0 for females). We do not know about the gender of the students friends; on the basis of Iranian culture, however, most of the respondents friends are of the same gender as respondents. To examine the effect of parental beliefs and behaviors on students attitudes, we calculated the Spearman rank correlation. We found a negative association between male and female students computer confidence and perceptions of usefulness, on one hand, and their parents attitudes, on the other. Students who perceived that their mothers considered the computer more appropriate for males were less confident in their ability to use computers (r= 0.30 for males; r= 0.47 for females) and were less aware of the importance of computer technology in daily life (r= 0.17 for females; r= 0.29 for females). The effect was stronger for female students. We found the same relation between fathers perceived attitudes and students computer confidence and perceptions of usefulness. The data also revealed a correlation between fathers perceived attitudes and students stereotypic views. Fathers beliefs that the computer is more appropriate for males than females increased both their sons (r=0.47) and their daughters (r=0.41) stereotypic views about computer users. We observed the same pattern of correlation in mothers perceived gender-typed views (r=0.38 for females; r=0.31 for males.) These findings are inconsistent with those of Barak et al. (Barak, Feldman, & Noy, 1991), who reported that parents stereotypic beliefs have little if any association with children s conceptions. In our study, the parents attitudes did not affect the students liking for computers. Also, we found no correlation between friends attitudes and the students own attitudes (Table 2). Table 2 Spearman rank correlation between parents attitudes and students attitudes Computer attitudes Fathers gender-typed view Mother s gender-typed view Male Computer liking ns ns Computer confidence 0.32* 0.30** Stereotyped view 0.47** 0.38** Computer usefulness ns 0.17* Female Computer liking ns ns Computer confidence 0.45** 0.47** Stereotyped view 0.41** 0.31** Computer usefulness 0.18* 0.29** * P<0.05. ** P<0.001.

8 370 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) We also obtained a positive correlation between parental encouragement and students attitudes. Students of both genders who judged that they received more encouragement from their parents to take computer courses were more interested in computers (r=0.32 for males; r=0.33 for females), had greater computer confidence (r=0.43 for males; r=0.49 for females), and were more aware of the benefits of computers (r=0.27 for males; r=0.22 for females). Parental encouragement had no effect on students stereotypic views The effect of socioeconomic status (SES) Our data analysis shows that parental education had a stronger effect on students attitudes than did parental occupation. We found no significant correlation between parents SES and their sons interest in computers or perceived usefulness of computers. Parental occupation was related inversely to male students stereotypic views: sons of parents with higher occupational status were more likely to believe in computer users gender equality (r= 0.22 for father; r= 0.25 for mother). Parental education was associated with sons computer attitudes: more highly educated parents promoted their sons computer confidence (r=0.28 for father; r=0.30 for mother), reduced their sons stereotypic views about computer users (r= 0.40 for father; r=0.36 for mother), and improved their attitudes about the effects of computers in daily life (r=0.20 for father r=0.18 for mother). Among female students, the effect was slightly stronger. Parental occupation was associated positively with female students confidence (r=0.25 for father; r=0.30 for mother) and perception of computer usefulness (r=0.20 for father; r=0.22 for mother). The influence of parental education on females attitudes was more significant: the higher the parents educational level, the greater their daughters interest in computers (r=0.18 for father; r=0.20 for mother), the greater their confidence in working with computers (r=0.42 for father; r=0.48 for mother), and the stronger their belief that the computer is useful (r=0.17 for father; r=0.18 for mother). Parents educational level was related inversely to female students stereotypic views: daughters of more highly educated parents were more in favor of gender equality in computing (r= 0.20 for father; r= 0.18 for mother; Table 3). Table 3 Spearman rank correlation between parental SES and students attitudes Computer attitudes Fathers occupation Mothers occupation Fathers education Mother s education Male Computer liking ns ns ns ns Computer confidence 0.19* ns 28** 0.30** Stereotyped view 0.22* 0.25** 0.40** 0.36** Computer usefulness ns ns 0.20* 0.18* Female Computer liking ns ns 0.18* 0.20* Computer confidence 0.25** 0.30** 0.42** 0.48** Stereotyped view ns ns 0.20* 0.18* Computer usefulness 0.20* 0.22* 0.17* 0.18* * P<0.05. ** P<0.001.

9 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Discussion The findings of the present study showed similarities as well as differences in several aspects of computer attitudes, as compared with the findings of recent studies conducted in the United States. In contrast to the previous research, which found that female students in the United States were less interested in computing than were male students (Shashaani, 1997), the desire for computer learning in Iran is not gender-specific. This finding is consistent with the growing number of women entering computer science in Iran. On the basis of Iran s latest statistical reports, women make up 41% of graduate students majoring in computer science in vocational and training institutions (Statistical Center of Iran, 1999) and 42% of students majoring in mathematics and computer science in all universities in the country (Statistical Center of Iran, 1996). The other interesting finding was related to stereotypic views. Females in our survey did not hold stereotypes regarding computer users. They believed in women s competence to work with computers and rejected the idea that men are better engineers or computer scientists. The absence of gender-stereotypic beliefs about computer users among our female students is encouraging. Although male students did not hold strong stereotypic views, the gender difference was significant. The women in our sample strongly supported gender-equality, but they had little confidence in their own ability to learn about or use the computer. Females strongly supported statements such as In general, females can do as well as males in computer careers, but when they were asked about their own ability, they stated that they felt uncomfortable and helpless around computers. This is an example of what Collis (Collis, 1985a) calls women s dual perspective, or the we can, but I can t paradox. The study of usefulness in attitudinal research is important because of the belief that awareness of the usefulness of computer technology in daily life will motivate individuals to learn about it. As Zhang and Espinoza (Zhang & Espinoza, 1998) stated, Students may not feel a need to learn computing skills until they recognize that computer technology is necessary in their future careers. Cambel found that students perception about the usefulness of computers in their education and career was were the most influential variable for predicting enrollment in computer courses (Cambel, 1989). Byrd and Koohang (1989) also noted that an individual s attitude towards computers is directly related to his or her perception of the usefulness of computers. In our study, males and females equally perceived computers as valuable and beneficial tools that could help them to save time and work. This is an encouraging finding. In our sample, female students more positive attitudes regarding computer interest, usefulness, and stereotype can be related to the schools environment in Iran. Primary and secondary schools are segregated by gender in Iran; therefore girls are not forced to compete with boys for access to computers in school. More important, they can not be influenced by male classmates opinions that math or science is a male domain. Studies have shown that teachers play an important role in perpetuating gender-role socialization: female students experience subtle discrimination at schools that discourage them from becoming involved in computing. As Wajcman (1991) argues, computer subjects are taught and used in schools in such a way that girls internalize the belief that computers are just for boys. Studies of classrooms show that teachers behave differently to girls and boys, they speak to them differently, they require different responses and different behavior from them (Wajcman, 1991, p. 152)

10 372 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Several studies have suggested that teachers consciously or unconsciously provide more opportunities for male students to learn and use computers (Wilkinson & Marrett, 1985). Such discrimination, which female students experience in the early stages of school, continues throughout their education and discourages them from considering computer science as an appropriate field. Because schools in Iran are segregated by gender and teachers teach only all female or all male students, such discrimination does not exist in the classroom. We are not suggesting here that gender segregation is a good solution and that other countries should adopt single-sex schools. Rather, we emphasize the responsibility of teachers in socializing students. Teachers can play a crucial role in educating male and female students to use computer technology. They can change the definition of computers and their uses to incorporate genderneutral concepts. They should encourage female students to take more computer classes and to use computers both in and outside school. Teachers can educate both boys and girls about prevailing views of stereotyping and the consequences of such bias for both men and women. Overall our study shows that while female students favor gender equality among computer users, they have less confidence in their own ability with computers. Male students are more confident in working and using computers, but hold stronger stereotypic views about computer users than do females. Why is there such a gender-discrepancy in computer attitudes? Research has suggested that gender imbalances in computing are socially constructed and are not related to innate ability (Canada & Brusca, 1991; Kiesler, Sproull, & Eccles, 1985; Leung, 1990). These studies emphasize the attitudes of socializing agents including parents, teachers, and peer groups who adopt different attitudes and behaviors toward males and females educational and career achievements. This assumption gained some support in this study. Our data analysis revealed a correlation between parents stereotypic views of computer users and students computer attitudes, particularly with respect to self-confidence. Students, especially females, who perceived their parents as holding stereotyped views had less interest and less confidence in working with computers. This finding is consistent with the suggestion of Eccles and her colleagues (Eccles, Adler, & Meece, 1985; Jacobs, 1991; Jacobs & Eccles, 1985) that parents beliefs about the appropriateness of certain behaviors for their sons and daughters influence their children s self-perceptions. Both males and females may have higher expectations for their performance on those tasks which are perceived to be more appropriate for their gender. Yeloushan (1989) noted that the major social barrier for females is the attitude of parents who believe that computers are more appropriate for males. Parents may convey their expectations by providing positive and negative feedback to their children s decisions on career choices or by expressing the difficulties or the importance of the subject they choose to study. As a result, boys and girls internalize these norms, values, and social roles to varying degrees, and use them to develop their self-concepts. In Shashaani s (1994b) research, high school students in grades 9 and 12, stated that their parents held different attitudes and beliefs about their sons and daughters abilities in different school subjects. They emphasized the parents perceived importance of math, physics, and computer science for their sons, and literature and reading for their daughters. Similarly, students in our present study reported that their parents attitudes were important in their course selection. The research has indicated the importance of parental encouragement in children s career choices. The subjects held different perceptions about the amount of encouragement they received from their parents to pursue computer-related activities and careers. Male students scored higher

11 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) on parental encouragement than female students. This finding is consistent with the research of Busch s (1995), who found that male college students reported more encouragement from parents and friends. We found a positive correlation between students attitudes and the amount of encouragement they received from their parents; the effect was stronger for female students. The assumption about the effect of SES reflected the idea that gender roles tend to be more traditional in lower-ses families (Rubin, 1976; Sidel, 1986). Our data analysis revealed a correlation between parental occupational and educational status and students attitudes. The effect of parental education, particularly the mother s, was higher than that of parental occupation. Students with more highly educated parents were more educated, were more confident in their ability to use the computer, had more positive perceptions of the usefulness of computers, and held less stereotypical views of computer users. The family s SES was more significant for females than for males. In general, the study showed that students from higher-ses families have more positive computer attitudes than those from lower-ses families. It can be assumed that students with higher socioeconomic status have more access to computers. Previous studies also have shown that parents with higher occupational status and educational attainment had more positive attitudes toward computers, which in turn affects their children s attitudes (Shashaani, 1994b). To close, or at least to narrow, the gender discrepancy in relation to computer technology, female students computer attitudes must be improved and their level of involvement with computers must be raised. Therefore educators must provide adequate training for female students, both before and during college. In addition, the parents attitudes and behaviors are important factors in motivating students to use computers. Parents must be aware of their daughters potential, and must encourage them to participate aggressively in computing. They should be educated so as to make an important contribution to their daughters expectations for success in the computer field. Otherwise this gender gap will not change and women will be deprived of the social and economic opportunities provided by working with computers. References American Association of University Women (AAUW) (1999). Educational foundation, gender gaps: where schools stills fail our children. New York: Marlowe. Anderson, R. E., Welch, W. W., & Harris, L. J. (1996). Inequalities in opportunities for computer literacy. The Computing Teacher, Badagliacco, J. M. (1990). Gender and race differences in computing attitudes and experience. Social Science Computer Review, 8(1), Barak, A., Feldman, S., & Noy, A. (1991). Traditionality of children s interests as related their parents gender stereotypes and traditionality of occupations. Sex Roles, 24(7/8). Bunderson, E., & Christensen, M. (1995). An analysis of problems for female students in university computer science programs. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 28(1), Busch, T. (1995). Gender differences in self-efficacy and attitudes toward computers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 12(2), Byrd, D. M., & Koohang, A. A. (1989). A professional development questions: Is computer experience associated with subjects attitudes toward the perceived usefulness of computers? Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 21, Cambel, N. J. (1989). Computer anxiety of rural, middle, and secondary school students. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 5, Camp, T. (1997). The incredible shrinking pipeline. Communication of the ACM, 40, 103.

12 374 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Canada, K., & Brusca, F. (1991). The technological gender gap: evidence and recommendations for educators and computer-based instruction design. Educational Technology Research & Development, 39(2), Collis, B. A. (1985a). Psychosocial implications of sex differences in attitudes toward computers: results of a survey. International Journal of Women s Studies, 8(3), Collis, B. A. (1985b). Sex-related differences in attitudes toward computers: implications for counselors. The School Counselor, 33, Collis, B. A., Kass, U., & Kieren, T. E. (1989). National trends in computer use among Canadian secondary school students: implications for cross-cultural analyses. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 22(6), Collis, B. A., & Williams, R. L. (1987). Differences in adolescents attitudes toward computers and selected school subjects. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 8, Davies, V., & Camp, T. (2000). Where have women gone and will they be returning. CPSR Newsletter, 18(1). Davies, M., & Kandel, D. (1981). Parental, peer influences on adolescents educational plans: some further evidence. American Journal of Sociology, 87(2), DeBare, I. (1996). High tech industry zipping along, but women are often left behind, Sacramento Bee (Online serial). Available: Eccles, J. S., Adler, T., Futterman, R., Goff, S. D., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J. I., & Midgley, C. (1982). Expectations, values, and academic behaviors. In 3. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and motivation (pp ). New York: Freeman. Eccles, J. S., Adler, T., & Kaczala, C. (1982). Socialization of achievement attitudes beliefs: parental influences. Child Development, 53, Eccles, J. S., Adler, T., & Meece, 3. L. (1985). Sex differences in achievement: a test of alternate theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, Francis, L. J. (1994). The relationship between computer related attitudes and gender stereotyping of computer use. Computers and Education, 22, Henwood, F. (1999). Exceptional Women? Gender and technology in U.K. higher education. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 18(7), 21. Houser, B. B., & Garvey, C. (1985). Factors that affect non-traditional vocational enrollment among women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, Jacobs, J. E. (1991). Influence of gender stereotypes on parent and child mathematics attitudes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(4), Jacobs, J. E., & Eccles, J. S. (1985). Gender differences in math ability: the impact of media reports on parents. Educational Researcher, 14, Kiesler, S., Sproull, L., & Eccles, J. S. (1985). Pool halls, chips and war games: women in the culture of computing. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9(4), Kersteen, Z., Linn, M. C., Clancy, M., & Hardyck, C. (1988). Previous experience and the learning of computer programming: the computer helps those who help themselves. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 4(3), Koohang, A. A. (1989). A study of attitudes toward computers: anxiety, confidence, liking, and perception of usefulness. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 22(2), Leung, J. J. (1990). Aspiring parents and teachers academic beliefs about young children. Sex Roles, 23(1/2), Levin, T., & Gordon, C. (1989). Effect of gender and computer experience on attitude toward computers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 5, Majoribanks, D (1990). Relationship of children s status to their family environments and school-related outcomes. Journal of Social Psychology, 13(1), Makrakis, V., & Sawada, T. (1996). Gender, computers and other school subjects among Japanese and Swedish students. Computers in Education, 26(4), Martin, C. D., Heller, R. S., & Mahmoud, E. (1992). American and Soviet children s attitudes toward computers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 8(2), Martini, M. M., & Greenberger, E. (1978). Sex differences in educational aspirations and expectations. American Educational Research Journal, 15(1), Massoud, S. L. (1991). Computer attitudes and computer knowledge of adult students. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 7,

13 L. Shashaani, A. Khalili / Computers & Education 37 (2001) Mitra, A. (1998). Categories of computer use and their relationships with attitudes toward computers. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 30(3), Miura, I. T. (1986). Understanding gender differences in middle school computer interest and use. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA. (April), ERIC ED Ogletree, S. M., & Williams, S. W. (1990). Sex and sex-typing effects on computer attitudes and aptitude. Sex Roles, 23(11/12), Reinen, I. J., & Plomp, T. (1993). Some gender issues in educational computer use: Results of international comparative survey. Computers in Education, 20, Reinen, I. J., & Plomp, T. (1997). Information technology and gender equality: a contradiction in terminals. Computers in Education, 28(2), Rubin, L. (1976). Words of pain: life in the working class family. New York: Meredith Corporation. Serbin, L., Zelkowitz, P., Doyle, A., Gold, D., & Wheaton, B. (1990). The socialization of sex-differentiated skills and academic performance: A mediation model. Sex Roles, 23(11/12), Shashaani, L. (1994b). Gender-based differences in attitudes toward computers. Computers and Education, 20(2), Shashaani, L. (1994a). Gender differences in computer experience and its influence on computer attitudes. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 11(4), Shashaani, L. (1994b). Socioeconomic status, parents sex-role stereotypes, and the gender gap in computing. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 26(4), Shashaani, L. (1997). Gender differences in computer attitudes and use among college students. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 16(1), Sidel, R. (1986). Women and children last: the plight of poor women in affluent New York. Viking. Smith, S. D. (1986). Relationships of computer attitudes to sex, grade-level, and teacher influence. Education, 106, Statistical Center of Iran, Statistical Year Book of Iran, General Census of Population and Housing (1996). Statistical Center of Iran, Statistical Year Book of Iran (1999). Wajcman, 3. (1991). Feminism Confronts Technology. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park. Wilkinson, L. C., & Marrett, C. (1985). Gender influences in classroom interaction. Hilsdate, New Jersey: Academic Press. Workfile Report, (Fall, 1999). 12(i3), 12. Yee, D. K., & Eccles, J. S. (1988). Parent perceptions and attributions for children s math achievement. Sex Roles, 19(5/6), Yeloushan, A. (1989). Social barriers hindering successful entry of female into technology-oriented fields. Educational Technology, 29(11), Zhang, Y., & Espinoza, S. (1998). Relationships among computer self-efficacy, attitudes toward computers, and desirability of learning computing skills. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 30(4),

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