European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 375–385 | Cite as

A new methodology, an old story? Gender differences in the “draw-a-computer-user” test

  • Mark Jeremy Brosnan
Article

Abstract

Gender differences in computer-related attitudes have been reported in school children of all ages. Females express more negative attitudes than males when asked to explicitly endorse attitude statements. This gender difference may be compounded by females expressing attitudes consistent with their psychological gender. This study uses an art-based methodology to assess the computer-related attitudes of 395 primary school children (aged 5 to 11). A significant difference occurs in the gender drawn by the children. Whilst 30% of females draw males, only 4% of males draw females. Additionally, older females draw proportionally less smiling faces. These results are consistent with more traditional assessments of attitude which indicate that females’ attitudes towards computers become more negative as they progress through the educational system. The art-based methodology also identified similar proportions of females holding negative attitudes as do more traditional assessments, suggesting ecological validity for the gender differences in computer attitudes. The implications for computer-related education are discussed.

Key words

Children’s drawings Computer anxiety Sex differences 

Résumé

On a déjà fait état, chez des écoliers de tous âges, d’une attitude envers les ordinateurs qui diffère selon le sexe. Les attitudes exprimées par les sujets de sexe masculin lorsque l’on leur demande d’approuver explicitement des énoncés. Cette différence peut s’accentuer lorsque les attitudes exprimées par les sujets féminins s’accordent à leur genre psychologique.

Dans cette étude, une méthodologie basée sur le dessin est utilisée pour évaluer l’attitude de 395 élèves de niveau primaire (âgés de 5 à 11 ans) envers l’ordinateur. Un écart significatif se manifetse en ce qui concerne le sexe de l’utilisateur dessiné par les enfants. Alors que 30% des sujets feminins dessinent un utilisateur de sexe masculin, seulement 4% des sujets masculins dessinent un utilisateur de sexe féminin. Par ailleurs, les sujets féminins plus âgés ont moins tendance à dessiner des visages souriants. Ces résultats concordent avec des évaluations plus traditionnelles qui indiquent que l’attitude envers les ordinateurs des sujets féminins devient plus négative au fur et à mesure qu’ils avancent dans le système scolaire. Cette méthodologie basée sur l’art décèle une proportion de sujets féminins ayant une attitude négative qui s’apparente à celle décelée par les évaluations plus traditionnelles, ce qui tend à démontrer la validité écologique d’un écart dans l’attitude basé sur le sex. Les conséquences en ce qui concerne l’instruction sont également étudiées.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Jeremy Brosnan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GreenwichLondonEngland

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