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Beyond Equal Access: Gender Equity
in Learning with Computers
by June Mark
Gender Equity in Learning with Computers
Center for Learning, Teaching, and Technology
Education Development Center, Inc.
As we approach the year 2000, computers are becoming commonplace tools
in our workplaces, schools, and homes, changing the ways in which we work,
learn, and communicate with one another. According to U.S. Department
of Labor predictions, by the year 1995 at least two million people will
be employed in occupations directly related to computers, and millions
of others will use computers as a routine part of their jobs.1
Computer-related occupations are expected to grow 5 percent per year in
the 1990s.2 Computers
have, for both good and bad, transformed the nature and environment of
work. Since women are a growing segment of the U.S. labor force, making
up almost two-thirds of the new entrants into the work force between 1987
and 2000,3 computers
have and will continue to have a substantial impact on women's lives.
Because developing familiarity and facility with computers is an important
educational goal for all students, schools need to ensure equity in
computer access, use, and outcomes. However, numerous studies have examined
and documented inequities, especially with respect to girls and young
women. Given that the presence of computers in our schools and workplaces
is likely to increase, there is a need to understand why inequities
in computer use exist and to develop effective strategies to ensure
equal opportunities and equitable consequences for all students in interactions
with computers. This article focuses on gender equity in learning with
computers and includes a review of relevant research and practice.
One caution: while we know that social class and racial/ethnic inequities
exist with regard to computer access and educational outcomes, studies
that consider race/ethnicity, gender, and class simultaneously are few.
For a true picture of gender issues with regard to computers-one that
acknowledges the many differences among females, we need to know more
about all of these issues.
Gender differences in school computer
access, use, and interest
There are many factors-psychological, social, attitudinal, and environmental-that
contribute to the existing conditions. These issues are of concern not
simply because girls and young women have less access, but because lack
of access holds implications for future educational opportunities as
well as career options and choices.
Gender differences have been documented in both computer use and access;
girls are more likely to use computers for word processing, while boys
are more often programming computers. Boys have significantly more positive
attitudes toward computers than girls, finding computers more "enjoyable,"
"special," "important," and "friendly"
than girls do.4
A computer gender gap usually starts becoming noticeable at the middle
school level and widens as girls get older.5
Gender differences are more evident in advanced classes than in introductory
tend to have less confidence in their own use of computers, and both
boys and girls perceive computers as predominantly in the domain of
males. These attitudes contribute to lower enrollments in computer courses
and in varying levels of interest.
Computer use in informal settings
In voluntary, out-of-school uses of computers, even greater gender differences
have been found. Boys are more likely than girls to have access to and
use a computer in their home, in a friend's home, or in a computer camp.7
Miura and Hess found that boys are roughly three times as likely to
enroll in computer camps and summer classes, with variations increasing
with grade level, cost of program, and difficulty level of course.8
In another study of students who had not yet received computer instruction
in school, over 60 percent of boys had a computer at home compared to
18 percent of girls, and 28 percent of girls versus 64 percent of boys
reported knowing how to work with computers.9
Effects of experience on attitudes
Several researchers have found a relationship between positive experience
with computers and future interest in and facility with computers. Loyd
and Gressard found that students' attitudes toward computers are significantly
affected by computer experience, and that differential computer experience
accounts for differences in attitudes more so than gender does.10
In one study, researchers found that experience with computers reduces
the attitude differences regarding boys' versus girls' abilities with
computers, and, therefore, reduces the prevalence of sex stereotypes
among boys and girls.11
Questions regarding the types and effects of experience with computers,
especially on continued interest in working with computers and on attitudes,
deserve further investigation.
Computers associated with math and science
There have been widespread data collected about gender bias in student
learning of mathematics and science,12
and there is concern that these inequities will be mirrored in the use
of computers in education. Because computers are so often linked with
mathematics and science, long considered male domains, how computers
are being used in teaching and learning may have serious consequences
for the learning opportunities of girls. Especially in secondary schools,
computers are more often clustered in math and science departments.
And apart from the fact that girls at present are less inclined to be
interested in math and science activities than boys are, the fact that
teachers in these areas are predominantly male significantly reduces
the opportunity for girls to have female role models who use computers.
Computers are versatile tools, suitable for a range of activities in
schools from music to mathematics, including design, problem solving,
writing, and planning. Linn hypothesizes that both the function for
which the computer is used and the organization of the learning setting
affect the engagement of girls and boys with the technology.13
Fewer gender differences are reported when computers are used for computer-assisted
instruction, games, simulations, or word processing. Some researchers
have found that boys are more interested in competitive games such as
the software in video arcades while girls are more interested in the
computer when they are working with word games, logic puzzles, art,
music, "story" programs, and adventure games.14
Because many students develop their impressions about computers in schools,
it is important that the computer tasks and the software meet the learning
needs of students and represent uses of technology that emphasize the
strengths of computers to solve problems, aid in decision making, and
achieve goals that are important and relevant to students. Computers
are not inherently biased, yet in the contexts they are used they can
often take on characteristics that reinforce gender bias.15
Given that learning experiences and context influence students' computer
use, and perceptions about computers, what are some effective strategies
that incorporate these ideas into actions for promoting equity in the
use of computers?
Designing equitable learning contexts: software and
As more and more computer software specifically designed for varied
educational purposes becomes available, teachers and students will have
a greater range of options, and software can be selected to more closely
match individual student needs. Students are more likely to be engaged
and motivated in using the computer if they see it as an important tool
for accomplishing their own goals.
One method to illustrate computers' usefulness in problem solving and
relevance to many activities and subjects, is for teachers to develop
specific computer design or research projects for their students. These
types of projects get students actively involved in learning, let them
have fun, and have them using computers as an integral part of their
work in a number of different ways (for example, design and drawing,
model building, measurement and calculation, word processing).
Designing equitable classroom organization and interactions
One particular teaching strategy that appears effective in engaging
females in the use of computers is structuring collaborative learning
experiences. This is consistent with evidence that it is not only what
software is used in classrooms, but how it is used, that impacts student
engagement with computers. There is some indication that collaboration
may be a preferred work context for girls.16
Software games in which children were required to play cooperatively
appealed more to girls,17
as did teacher-structured collaborative activities.
Teachers can also involve students in discussion about the equity issues
in using technology. As an introduction, teachers can share research
on computer equity with students, asking students what they think about
the issues, discussing any questions they may have, and any issues that
students feel don't make sense to them or that they don't understand.
Teachers and/or students may be interested in doing their own research
projects to analyze equity in computer use, access, and classroom interactions
in their school. This can get students involved in understanding the
issues and in educating others throughout the school.
Changes in attitudes and practice do not happen overnight. They require
time, good ideas and examples, resources, and support in order for teachers
to effectively integrate computers into their curricula. Teacher training
and development focused on gender equity and on integrating and ensuring
equity in all learning activities is an important component to ensuring
change and equity. Action research, an innovative teacher professional
development model, involves teachers in designing and planning classroom
research projects and reflecting upon the findings and implications
with the support of colleagues. It creates grounded knowledge and understanding
for teachers and the impetus to improve their teaching and learning.18
Many teachers also need additional computer training themselves, to
become comfortable with using computers and to develop ideas for integrating
computers into what they are currently teaching. Collegial support will
help to reduce some teachers' anxiety about using computers and to ensure
Infusing equity schoolwide
It is important for schools to go beyond equal access in attempting
to balance differences in exposure by providing targeted opportunities
to encourage girls to be more involved with and persist in using computers.
Girls should be educated and encouraged that mathematics and science
are important and relevant to their lives. Mathematics and science teachers
as well as guidance counselors can play a role in suggesting education
and employment opportunities in technology-related fields. It is also
important to develop partnerships between computer equity programs and
organizations outside of the school, investigating and developing links
with effective out-of-school programs such as Girls, Inc.'s Operation
SMARTTM. Providing opportunities for students to support
each other's efforts and to share their experiences, ideas, and resources
helps, too. Partnerships with local business and industry can serve
as resources for community involvement in schools, provide opportunities
for students to interact with role models, and, perhaps provide some
funding for innovative programs.
Principals, superintendents, and other school personnel should also
be involved in promoting computer equity. Some ways to accomplish this
goal include involving teachers and other school personnel, particularly
females, in planning computer use as well as in the acquisition of computer
hardware, software, and curriculum materials. King found that participation
in planning activities resulted in higher levels of commitment to ensuring
appropriate and equitable computer use in schools.19
Friends and peers also play a role in students' interactions with computers.
Especially in adolescence, girls are particularly sensitive to perceptions
of themselves in terms of social acceptance. Sanders found that one
reason girls were reluctant to join computer clubs was because their
friends weren't there.20
Therefore there is a need for girls to be supported and encouraged in
their use of computers, for example, a girls' computer club or class
period. In addition, peer training in which students, especially females,
help and support each other in using classroom computers can make learning
to use a computer a more comfortable and fun experience.
Role models and mentors
Girls define themselves through social interaction, connecting and communication
with others, more so than boys do,21
and therefore, are more likely to avoid the computer they may have experienced
as rigid, rule-based, and isolating from others. There is a need for
role models to counterbalance the perceptions and images that imply
that math, science, and technology are not relevant to girls' lives.
There needs to be recognition for women who actively participate in
using computers, as well as mechanisms for these women to mentor and
serve as role models for girls. For example, a career day can showcase
the contributions of women in computer and technology-related fields.
In addition, women involved in computers from a range of occupations,
including graphic design, writing, desktop publishing, architecture,
and engineering, can be invited to share their experiences and challenges.
Positive parental attitudes can influence the attitudes of children
toward computers. There is evidence to suggest that parents tend to
be more encouraging and supportive of boys' learning in mathematics
than of girls' and there is some initial evidence that this may be true
with regard to computers as well.22
At home, a mother can be an important role model for her daughter since
girls become more interested in computers when they see their mothers
Parents need to encourage both daughters and sons in the use of computers,
in terms of the time they spend together, and the types of activities
and interactions they have around the computer. Parents should also
talk with their children about what they are doing with computers in
Need for research
Researchers need to focus on equity issues in investigating the effects
and implications of computer use in schools. As computers become part
of our society, it is imperative that we consider equity issues in relation
to a tool that has wide educational, economic, social, and political
While relatively few interventions exist, there is a need for review
and dissemination of effective programs, more information on how interventions
are working, why they are working, and how they could be adapted for
Rethinking gender equity in learning with computers
Achieving gender equity with respect to computers and learning is a
challenge and requires the commitment and efforts of many players-teachers,
school personnel, peers, parents, curriculum and software developers,
educational researchers, and gender equity program developers-in promoting
equity and changing the climate for computer equity in schools and in
society. In addition, gender equity in learning with computers requires
attention in a number of dimensions, including how computer access is
determined and allocated, how computers are used, how the learning context
is structured, how teachers interact with students around computers,
how students interact with each other using computers, how parents value
and support their children's use of computers, and how society depicts
computer users. Often, equity issues are an "after-the-fact"
or misunderstood consideration. But given what is known about gender
bias in learning with computers, equity issues need to be an integral
part of designing and planning effective education for students.
- Linda Lewis, "Females and Computers: Fostering Involvement,"
in Women, Work, and Technology: Transformations, ed. by B. D. Wright
(Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1987), 268-80.
- Anthony Patrick Carnevale, America and the New Economy: How New
Competitive Standards Are Radically Changing American Workplaces (San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991).
- William B. Johnston, Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st
Century (Indianapolis, Ind.: Hudson Institute, 1987).
- Tamar Levin and Claire Gordon, "Effect of Gender and Computer
Experience on Attitudes Toward Computers," Journal of Educational
Computing Research 5, no. 1 (1989): 69-88.
- J. S. Sanders, "Computer
Equity for Girls," Sex Equity in Education: Readings and Strategies,
ed. by A. O. Carelli (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1988),
- Robert D. Hess and Irene T. Miura, "Gender Differences in
Enrollment in Computer Camps and Classes," Sex Roles 13, no.
3/4 (1985): 193-97.
- Milton Chen, "Gender and Computers: The Beneficial Effects
of Experience on Attitudes," Journal of Educational Computing
Research 2, no. 3 (1986): 265-82.
- Irene T. Miura and Robert D. Hess, "Enrollment Differences
in Computer Camps and Summer Classes," The Computing Teacher
11, no. 8 (April 1984): 22.
- Levin and Gordon.
- B. H. Loyd and C. Gressard, "The Effects of Sex, Age, and
Computer Experience on Computer Attitudes," AEDS Journal 18,
no. 2 (1984): 67-76.
- M. Sadker, D. Sadker, and S. Klein, "The Issue of Gender in
Elementary and Secondary Education," in Review of Research in
Education, vol. 17, ed. by G. Grant (Washington, D.C.: American Educational
Research Association, 1991), 269-334; Mary Schatz Koehler, "Classrooms,
Teachers, and Gender Differences in Mathematics," in Mathematics
and Gender, ed. by E. Fennema and G. Leder (New York: Teachers College
Press, 1990), 128-48; G. Leder, "Teacher/Student Interactions
in the Mathematics Classroom: A Different Perspective," in Mathematics
and Gender, ed. by E. Fennema and G. Leder, 149-68; Wellesley College
Center for Research on Women, The AAUW Report: How Schools Shortchange
Girls (Washington, D.C.: AAUW Educational Foundation, 1992).
- Marcia Linn, "Fostering Equitable Consequences from Computer
Learning Environments," Sex Roles 13, no. 3/4 (1985): 229-40.
- Nancy Kreinberg, Lynn Alper, and Helen Joseph, "Computers
and Children: Where Are the Girls?" PTA Today (1985): 13-15;
J. S. Sanders, "Making
the Computer Neuter," The Computing Teacher 12, no. 7 (April
- Sherry Turkle, "Computational Reticence: Why Women Fear the
Intimate Machine," in Technology and Women's Voices: Keeping
in Touch, ed. by Cheris Kramarae (New York: Routledge, Kegan Paul,
1988); Jane G. Schubert and Thomas W. Bakke, "Practical Solutions
to Overcoming Equity in Computer Use," The Computing Teacher
11, no. 8 (April 1984): 28-30.
- K. Sheingold, J. Hawkins, and C. Char, "I'm the Thinkist and
You're the Typist: The Interaction of Technology and the Social Life
of Classrooms," Journal of Social Issues 40, no. 3 (1984): 49-61.
- Jan Hawkins, "Computers and Girls: Rethinking the Issues,"
Sex Roles 13, no. 3/4 (1980): 165-80.
- M. Watt and D. Watt, Report No 91-4, Teacher Research, Action Research:
The Logo Action Research Collaborative, Reports and Papers in Progress
(Newton, Mass.: Center for Learning, Teaching, and Technology, Education
Development Center, 1991).
- Richard A. King, "Rethinking Equity in Computer Access and
Use," Educational Technology 27, no. 3 (April 1987): 12-18.
- Sanders, "Making the Computer Neuter."
- Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and
Women's Development (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982).
- Hess and Miura; Schubert and Bakke.
- Kreinberg et al.
by Katherine Hanson
Center for Equity and Cultural Diversity
As this nation nears the end of the century, we are acknowledging a world
very different from that perceived of as the "good old days."1
Too often the discussion revolves around the statistics of color--"By
the year 2000, one out of three Americans will be a member of a racial
than around the issue of how we can most effectively educate the majority
of our students. In the years ahead, our education system must begin to
address those structural changes through which we can empower our students.
We must ask, "Why is this diversity so often viewed as a problem
to be solved? Why isn't it a wonderful opportunity to build a new, more
diverse, and much more interesting society for all of us to live in? Well-meaning
as it is, some of the calls to deal with diversity in the classroom sound
too much like the Public Health Officer warning us that the measles are
We have always been a nation of diversity. Historically, large segments
of the South have had African American majorities, the Southwest has
been predominantly Latino, and in other states American Indians/Alaska
Natives have been the majority in certain areas. Until fairly recently,
however, different cultures and people have remained separate. Now we
are living together in a changing cultural pattern that can either create
tension or provide for a synergetic renewal of our nation's energy.
As a democratic nation we have provided the model for other countries
to follow. Now we, too, must reexamine how to continue to open the democratic
process to all people-how do we create a multiracial/multiethnic democracy?
And what role does education play in this process? The task now facing
us is how to develop models for education that is truly multicultural,
truly democratic. Multicultural education may be at the core of this
move toward education for democracy, for ". . .if democracy was
meant for slaves and descendents of slaves, for women as well as men,
for recent immigrants as well as those here for generations, if indeed
a democracy which includes all of the nation's people is to be fostered
in this country and modeled in this nation's educational system, then
the issue of multicultural education must be at the heart, and not on
the margins, of all discussions about education."4
Democracy can best be developed through multicultural education that
respects the individual, enables all students to see themselves in the
curriculum, and fosters a deep understanding and acceptance of differences
as legitimate and empowering. Multicultural education can then be the
way to move beyond the separations that exist to a new culture. As one
principal, concerned with reducing the levels of street violence stated,
"I used to say multicultural education was the right thing
to do; now I know it's the only thing to do. If our schools can teach
students to respect one another, can give them the experience of living
together peacefully, then we'll have fewer lives lost."5
Multicultural education is not a panacea for all educational or social
problems, but it does offer significant hope for change. Multicultural
education, within the context of education for democracy, is not merely
a lesson in human relations or an interesting "add-on." Rather,
as defined by a range of educators and researchers (Banks, Sleeter,
Sleeter and Grant, Cummins), multicultural education is a process
of systemwide reform and restructuring that includes all facets of education.
Focusing on the structures of schools and their role in educating for
democracy, Sonia Nieto's definition of multicultural education is instructive:
"Multicultural education is a process of comprehensive school reform
and basic education for all students. It challenges and rejects racism
and other forms of discrimination in schools and society and accepts
and affirms the pluralism . . . that students, their communities, and
teachers represent. Multicultural education permeates the curriculum
and instructional strategies used in schools, as well as the interactions
among teachers, students, and parents, and the very way that schools
conceptualize the nature of teaching and learning. Because it uses critical
pedagogy as its underlying philosophy and focuses on knowledge, reflection,
and action (praxis) as the basis for social change, multicultural education
furthers the democratic principles of social justice."6
Multicultural education becomes the way in which educational restructuring
can best model education for democracy. Because multicultural education
is a process, it is often misunderstood by those seeking a program to
add on to what they are already doing. In her discussion of this phenomenon,
Christine Sleeter cautions that individuals "usually build [multicultural
education] around many taken-for-granted ideas that White Americans
have about race. In the process, what gets done may not really change
anything, but gives the illusion of doing so . . . . [E]ssentially,
multicultural education . . . is about challenging oppression."7
With democracy at its core, multicultural education can help schools
examine how we have fostered separations and provide guidance to reduce
those separations. As a process, multicultural education enables us
to examine our own attitudes and beliefs about diversity and to examine
those structures within our organizations that inhibit or promote a
multicultural environment. This process then leads to the development
of a new culture within schools.
Schools, as democratic institutions, have struggled to define what
this new culture of diversity looks like. Cox and Blake define the features
of a multicultural organization as pluralism-reciprocal acculturation-where
all groups respect, value, and learn from one another; full structural
integration of all groups so they are well represented at all levels
of the organization; full integration of minority culture-group members,
women, and others in the informal networks of the organization; an absence
of prejudice and discrimination; equal identification of minority and
majority group members with the goals of the organization and with opportunity
for alignment of organization and personal career goal achievement;
a minimum of inter-group conflict based on race, gender, nationality,
language, sexual preference, and other identity groups of organization
A key point here is the reciprocal acculturation of all groups. Schools
can take a lesson in this regard from corporations that see heterogeneity
as promoting creativity and innovation, which together with organizational
coherence and unity raise the quality of decision making and productivity.
This point of reciprocal acculturation is an important aspect in the
development of our approaches to multicultural education, for it enables
schools to build a new, inclusive, democratic culture rather than continue
to address the needs of large segments of the student population as
if they were somehow outside the norm.
The Center for Equity and Cultural Diversity has developed an interdisciplinary
framework for examining pluralism. This framework explores the balance
between the individual and the institution in creating a democratic,
pluralistic culture. Once individuals understand their own attitudes
and behaviors-within the context of their socialization-they can then
begin to examine how these and similar issues play out within the larger
organization. There is an interplay or tension between the individual
and the community, whether that community is defined as the school system,
the corporation, or the city. Without an understanding of this symbiotic
role, no significant long-term changes can occur. Thus, in order to
create the democratic society we envision, we must explore our own belief
systems and discover how they affect the institutions in which we find
ourselves. At the same time, we must acknowledge that institutional
values will also affect both our perceptions of the world and our individual
Jerome Bruner, in his most recent book, Acts of Meaning, emphasizes
that meaning-making emerges from social interactions mediated by culturally
constructed narratives. This meaning-making is the construction of an
individual's logic through interaction with others.9
The work of the Center for Equity and Cultural Diversity continues to
focus on this point-how we make meaning of our lives and how we can
develop education that ". . .leads our students, our graduates,
and ourselves as educators, to reject mindlessness in any form, to demand-for
ourselves and our students-the alert, critical, engaged consciousness
which can only come from thinking minds in dialogue with-and ultimately
in community with-people who bring different stories, and tell different
tales, so that something truly new can emerge."10
The Center for Equity and Cultural Diversity seeks to work with educators
struggling to define the philosophy and practical applications of multicultural
education as education for democracy. In this process, we hope to create
the space, as Maxine Greene describes,
"for expression, for freedom . . . a public space .
. . where living persons can come together in speech and action, each
one free to articulate a distinctive perspective, all of them granted
equal worth. It must be a space of dialogue, a space where a web of
relationships can be woven, and where a common world can be brought
into being and continually renewed."11
- I wish to thank James Fraser of Lesley College for his construction
of education for democracy in a multicultural context on which I have
built this discussion.
- A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century: The Report
of the Task Force on Teaching as a Profession (New York: Carnegie
Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986), 79.
- James W. Fraser, "Transforming Academic Institutions: Multicultural
Education," keynote address at Salem State College, Salem, Mass.
(September 4, 1991). For a fuller analysis of the centrality of multicultural
education in a democratic society, see Theresa Perry and James W.
Fraser, Freedom's Plow: Schools as Multiracial, Multiethnic Democracies
(New York: Routledge, forthcoming).
- Fraser, keynote address.
- Comment by panelist at CECD training conference "Valuing Diversity
in Schools" in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 1992.
- Sonia Nieto, Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context
of Multicultural Education (New York: Longman, 1992), 208.
- Christine Sleeter, "Multicultural Education as a Process,
Not a Program" in Susan Gould, Tom LoGuidice, and Christine Sleeter,
Strategic Planning for Multicultural Education. Working manuscript.
For a full discussion of Sleeter's work, see Christine Sleeter, Empowerment
Through Multicultural Education (Albany, New York: State University
of New York Press, 1991).
- Taylor H. Cox and Stacy Blake, "Managing Cultural Diversity:
Implications for Organizational Competitiveness," Academy of
Management Executives 5, no. 3 (1991): 52.
- Jerome Bruner, Acts of Meaning (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1990).
- Fraser, keynote address.
- Maxine Greene, "Excellence, Meanings, and Multiplicity,"
Teachers College Record 86, no. 2 (Winter 1984): 296.
To order WEEA materials call our distribution center at 800-793-5076.
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The Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Program was one of the first
programs to develop materials to enhance the math achievement of women.
It continues to maintain this leadership by providing funds to explore
the issue of gender equity and technology in various projects around
Using innovative methods, a 1991 WEEA grantee, Collegiate Science and
Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) at Onondaga Community College, integrates
computers into the curriculum. The program supports students of color
and low-income students (average age 32 years) who are potentially interested
in or are pursuing careers in scientific, technical, or health fields.
Also a current WEEA grantee, the Mathematics, Science, and Computer
Careers for Rural Women: A Model for Educational Equity Project at Enterprise
State Junior College, Alabama, offers educational activities in the
areas of math, science, and computer science to seventh- and eighth-grade
girls from a mainly rural area.
The Women's Action Alliance (WAA) utilized a WEEA grant to develop
The Neuter Computer: Computers for Girls and Boys. This publication
offers insights into how and why to encourage computer use by girls
and close the computer gender gap. In a national field test of this
book, girls' computer participation increased 144 percent in one term.
The Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER) of the NOW Legal Defense
and Education Fund, using WEEA and other funds, developed Debugging
the Program: Computer Equity Strategies for the Classroom Teacher.
The kit includes a handbook containing excerpts from four outstanding
computer equity curricula: The Neuter Computer: Computers for Girls
and Boys; Off and Running: The Computer Off Line Activities Book,
by EQUALS, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley;
Project MiCRO (Minority Computer Resource Opportunity), by the
Southern Coalition for Educational Equity, Atlanta, Georgia; and Pathways--An
Introduction to Computers, by Technical Education Research Centers,
PEER's National Center for Computer Equity publishes the Computer
Equity Report and other materials to help parents and community
groups work for equity in their local communities. The center acts as
a clearinghouse for information on model programs that have documented
the effective use of computers in providing solutions to equity problems
related to race, sex, and disability bias. It also serves as an advocate
at the national level for planned investment in the future of all children
through the equitable distribution of technological resources.
The Center for Educational Equity, a division of American Institutes
for Research (AIR), received a WEEA grant to prepare a package of instructional
strategies: IDEAS for Equitable Computer Learning. The package
includes a survey for students to assess their computer experience at
school and at home; an education self-assessment checklist; a resource
paper on early childhood computer readiness for K-3 teachers; a paper
on out-of-school computer access as an equity issue; and a bibliography
on gender equity in computer use.
In addition, AIR, in conjunction with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America,
Inc., developed a pilot project called SISCOM that pairs children and
their big sisters or brothers in a co-learning approach. SISCOM uses
fun activities and games to expose little and big brother and sister
matches to different uses for computers, to help them develop problem-solving
skills, and to give them practice in using a variety of educational
Add-Ventures for Girls: Building Math Confidence combines teacher
development with strategies that work in teaching mathematics to girls
and includes a chapter on computer equity issues. The chapter outlines
the bias against girls in computer education and gives a list of questions
for schools or specific teachers to assess the computer learning climate
for girls at their school. It also offers strategies for making computer
education more accessible to girls by making sure software is interesting
for girls, by encouraging parent support, developing computer clubs,
and ensuring that girls get as much time on the computer as boys.
Other projects of interest
Pathways for Women in the Sciences at Wellesley College Center for
Research on Women is researching the barriers that prevent women from
entering and remaining in scientific careers and the factors that would
support a culture of success for creating women scientists. At the end
of the study, "The Wellesley Report" will be issued and will
serve as the basis for a conference to share findings with higher education,
business, government, and private foundations.
The corporate-funded Computer Equity Expert Project at the Women's
Action Alliance aims to reduce girls' computer avoidance. Two hundred
educational trainers-specialists in computer education, gender equity,
mathematics and/or science-attended six-day seminars where they acquired
a feminist analysis of math and science, received instruction in gender
equity in education, in girls and women in mathematics and science,
in educational technology, and honed their training skills. The Computer
Equity Expert Project has also established the Computer Equity Electronic
Network and publishes a newsletter, Computer Equity News.
Mathematics, Science, and Computer Careers for Rural Women: A Model
for Educational Equity
Dr. Tim Alford
Enterprise State Junior College
P.O. Box 1300, Enterprise, AL 36331
Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program
Onondaga Community College
Route 173, Syracuse, NY 13215
The Neuter Computer: Computers for Girls and Boys
Women's Action Alliance, Inc.
370 Lexington Avenue, Suite 603
New York, NY 10017
Debugging the Program: Computer Equity Strategies for the Classroom
The Project on Equal Education Rights (PEER)
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
99 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013
IDEAS for Equitable Computer Learning
SISCOM (Co-learning Computer Instructional Models)
American Institutes for Research
Center for Educational Equity
Box 1113, Palo Alto, CA 94302
Pathways for Women in the Sciences
The Pathways Project
Center for Research on Women
Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02181-8529
The Computer Equity Expert Project
Women's Action Alliance
370 Lexington Avenue, Suite 603
New York, NY 10017
The WEEA Digest is published by the WEEA Publishing
Center, a project at Education Development Center, Inc., under contract
with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research
and Improvement. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect
the position of the U.S. Department of Education and no official endorsement
should be inferred.
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