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Issues in gender, ICTs and education Assuring gender equality in the knowledge society International Scientific Colloquium on ICTs in Education: Balance.

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Presentation on theme: "Issues in gender, ICTs and education Assuring gender equality in the knowledge society International Scientific Colloquium on ICTs in Education: Balance."— Presentation transcript:

1 Issues in gender, ICTs and education Assuring gender equality in the knowledge society International Scientific Colloquium on ICTs in Education: Balance sheet, current issues and future perspectives Montreal, 3-4 May 2012 Nancy Hafkin, Ph.D. – Inductee, Internet Society Hall of Fame, 2012

2 Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are essential for knowledge society, and... ICTs are the sine qua non tool of the knowledge society

3 Cinderella... Works in the basement of the knowledge society (if she works in it at all) – Has little opportunity to reap its benefits. – Waits for "her prince" to decide the benefits she will receive.

4 While Cyberella is... Fluent in the uses of technology Fluent in the uses of technology Comfortable using & designing computers, technology, communication equipment, software, working in virtual spaces Comfortable using & designing computers, technology, communication equipment, software, working in virtual spaces Devises innovative uses for technologies Devises innovative uses for technologies Finds information and knowledge to improve her life and expand choices Finds information and knowledge to improve her life and expand choices Active knowledge creator and disseminator Active knowledge creator and disseminator More than a user, designs information and knowledge systems to improve all aspects of her life. More than a user, designs information and knowledge systems to improve all aspects of her life.

5 The leaky pipeline in S&T education There are fewer girls and women in science and technology education at each successive educational (and employment) level Gender gap widens ascending the educational ladder More girls now in secondary and tertiary education, but few in S&T, especially computer science

6 The women cant do science debate Are males innately better at science (and ICT?) than females? Brought to the fore by Lawrence Summers, Harvard (2005) Said to be partly due to possible innate shortcomings in math Elizabeth Spelke: no basic early differences in number skills between girls and boys Anything that emerges later is socially determined Conclusion: girls can learn to use ICTs as well as boys

7 Some reasons why... Girls lack of comfort or interest in S&T Even where teenage girls use computers and the Internet at similar rates to boys, they are five times less likely to consider a technology- related career. Attitudes about what is appropriate for girls It is harder/less common to combine computer-assisted learning with subjects in which girls tend to be more interested

8 Learner confidence Boys tend to dominate computer- related tasks and discussions in class Girls tend to have more anxiety about computers than boys, but Girls tend to underestimate their technology skills (while boys tend to overestimate them) Girls comfort level with computers increases with experience Males frequently denigrate the technological skills of females Given economic and practical realities of poor countries, sometimes girls overcome traditional barriers to study in these fields

9 Interest in computers Computer/video games are marketed to boys; playing these games as children increases their comfort with computers Class factors also impact: parents with higher socio-economic status and education give more encouragement about computers to girls Girls often have less interest in computers (and, sometimes, math and science) than boys Age factors: as girls grow older, they tend to decline in interest in computers Gender bias in technology comes from teachers, parents, the media, association of computer culture with males Boys tend to have more positive feelings about computers than girls

10 Learning styles Girls tend to prefer collaborative work (group work) on computers, while boys prefer to work individually and competitively Boys tend to like technology for its own sake, whereas girls are more interested in its applications Different gender-based learning styles need to be taken into account Much research has been done on whether girls tend to achieve more on computers in single-sex settings no definitive findings have emerged

11 Girls interest & success in these fields is constrained by lack of female role models, particularly teachers However, girls do well with mentors of either sex Role Models Male teachers tend to use computers as learning tools more frequently than women teachers Girls/women tend to continue in computer science when their teachers (of either sex) have positive attitudes toward women students

12 Unflattering images of women geeks Software – tends to be designed with boys, men as the default Teachers bias – both male and female teachers often exhibit bias against girls studying and using computers or favor boys, treat them differently in class

13 Access Girls often have limited (and less than boys) access to computers, in schools, at home and in public places Small numbers of computers in schools tend to disadvantage girls if no fair use policies are in place Girls experience problems with physical safety in going to computer labs/cybercafés at night

14 Gender issues in pre-service teacher education Very little research has been done on gender and technology differences in pre- service teacher education in ICT

15 Mobile phones and social media Overcome social place disadvantage of computers Increasing availability of broadband, smartphones increases information availability Girls tend to be more active on social media than boys (girls tending to excel in communication) But, Internet and social media frequently portray negative and dangerous (pornography, stalking, trafficking) images of women – Other phenomena, such as bullying, victimize women – Such images call for schools to teach critical thinking Social media have positive aspects for education (group study)

16 Mobile for development Mobile education delivery of educational services through a mobile phone, frequently through an application Or, use of a mobile phone for education, such as teaching literacy and numeracy mEducation for development deals with both formal and non-formal education Targets illiterate and literate Controversy about whether it distracts formal learners and makes teachers redundant

17 mEducation: bringing formal education to more girls in developing countries Social, economic and cultural reasons often impede the ability of girls in developing countries to attend school – This limits their opportunity to develop the capabilities to lead the lives that they have reason to value (Sen, 1999). – Limits personal and societal benefits in a knowledge society Many reasons limit girls ability/mobility to attend school – School fees, uniforms, preference for boys education, lack of sanitary products, safety in travelling to/from school, cost of boarding, dangers of living with relatives/domestic servitude Blended learning is one possible response to girls realizing the education and mobility capabilities – Mobile phones especially becoming nearly ubiquitous in developing countries

18 External factors in mEducation for girls Possible constraints: Mobile phones can strain interpersonal gender relations Women can suffer invasions of private or domestic violence for using a phone Language of content more daunting to girls/women than men/boys Are those who need it most least likely to have access (i.e. poor out-of-school girls in rural areas of Africa)? Hope for success: Especially useful when girls are out of school for cost and cultural reasons

19 A successful project: Jokko Initiative in Senegal Teaches literacy in local language, where written materials largely unavailable Affordable handsets chosen with large lettering digital displays Mobile Phone for Literacy and Empowerment curriculum development (150 hours) Digital literacy included (including SMS) 80% of participants women Spill over effect to neighboring communities Success in development of language and literacy skills

20 Jokko mobile phone education initiative – Senegal: 3 mo. results Near doubling of participants who had used a mobile phone Eight-fold increase in participants who could send or receive SMS Eight-fold increase in those who could read phone messages Averaging nine messages sent per week

21 Outcomes/impact No consensus that either girls or boys have better outcomes from computer-assisted learning. Girls, however, do seem to gain more in self- esteem than boys from successful computer use The larger issue: How can the formal education system remove the barriers that interfere with girls and womens access to and success in technology?

22 Questions/comments?


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