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Title: Attitudes towards technology based on stereotypes, self-categorisation and sense of control
Author: Winter, Elizabeth Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 2753
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2009
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This research examines social psychological explanations for the under-representation of women in careers in computing. Following a review of the literature, a paper questionnaire collected open response data from 524 participants from two age groups representing pre- and post- adolescence. Results regarding what constituted a typical computer user indicated a shift from same gender representations at ages 10-11 to a young male stereotype by the vast majority of 16-18 year-olds. Proportionally less computer use by adolescent girls than boys was reported alongside girls having fewer positive emotions with age. An online survey provided quantitative data from a further 672 participants and introduced additional age-groups of 13-14 year-olds, undergraduates and adults. It confirmed the transition from same gender to a stereotyped male representation of a typical computer user during adolescence and indicated this occurred around 13-14 years of age. Principal Component Analyses (PCA) of 24 pairs of Locus of Control measures for work/education and computing contexts suggested men had a higher sense of personal control in a computing context than general whereas for women this was the reverse. PCA of a 20-item semantic differential scale to represent emotional responses provided evidence of three factors: positive/negative emotions; engagement and emotionality which offered some gender differences and relationships with other variables. A third study, of 179 undergraduates, related data from the online questionnaire to any effect on actual performance or self-rating on a computing task. Results showed that framing the task as evaluative and holding same-gender mental representations affected both performance and self-evaluation. This gave support to Stereotype Threat Theory (Steele & Aronson, 1995) in a computing context plus suggested factors that may prompt the opposite: Stereotype Lift (Walton & Cohen, 2003). Finally, the results of all three studies are discussed in terms of cognitive, affective, behavioural and perceived control components of an overall attitude towards computers.
Supervisor: Colley, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available