First-Year Female College Students Found To Have Less Confidence About Computer Skills Than Male Counterparts
An annual, national survey of college freshmen reveals that the women feel less confident about their computer-use skills than the men. The fall 2000 survey undertaken by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies shows that 78.5 percent of first-year students had been using computers regularly during the year before enrolling in college. The percentage is the highest ever for the annual survey, representing a jump of more than 10 percent over the previous year’s finding of 68.4 percent.
Though the survey found that women have virtually closed the gender gap in computer use, first-year-undergraduate women were only half as likely as first-year-undergraduate men to assess their computer-use skills as “above average” or within the top 10 percent, according to the study. Only 23.2 percent of women had high regard for their computer skills compared to 46.4 percent of the men.
UCLA officials pointed out that the self-confidence gap may contribute to the trend that men are five times more likely to seek careers in computer programming — 9.3 percent of men compared to 1.8 percent of the women. The survey shows that 77.8 percent of undergraduate women and 79.5 percent of men were using computers regularly just prior to their enrollment as first-year students.
“In a work force increasingly dependent on technological proficiency, women’s relative lack of computing confidence is likely to place them at a disadvantage when it comes to the jobs they are willing to seek out,” says Dr. Linda Sax, UCLA education professor and survey director.
Only 17.1 percent of the women surveyed frequented Internet chat rooms as compared to 23.4 percent of men. The survey also shows that women spend far less time than men playing computer and video games, with 35.4 percent of the men saying they spend more than three hours a week playing games. Just 9.6 percent of the women say they spend more than three hours a week playing electronic games.
The survey polled 404,667 students at 717 higher education institutions. Data for the survey came from 269,413 students who responded, representing 434 schools. The survey was adjusted to be statistically representative of the nation’s 1.1 million freshmen entering four-year colleges and universities as first-time, full-time students last fall.
The survey is in its 35th year and represents the oldest and most comprehensive evaluation of U.S. student attitudes and future plans. The American Council on Education is a sponsor of the survey.
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