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Gender And Computers: The Beneficial Effects Of Experience On Attitudes

Milton Chen

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This study examines gender differences in computer attitudes and experiences of adolescents. A sample of students from five Bay Area high schools was surveyed for their uses of computers before and during their high school years, in both formal instruction and informal settings. Adolescent males had greater total exposure to computers, based primarily on higher enrollments in computer programming classes and participation in voluntary experiences, such as home computer use. Fewer gender differences were found in enrollment in classes using computers for purposes other than programming. Overall, males held more positive attitudes of interest in and confidence with computers than did females. Controlling for amount of computer experience, however, males and females responded with similar levels of interest. Social influences, especially those among peer groups, are explored as important factors for differential rates of participation in computer activities.