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Are Girls Getting More Tech Savvy?

A new report says that young women use more technology at home than their male counterparts.
January 22, 2009

A new report says that girls now use more technology at the home than boys do. Coauthors Karen Pine, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire, in the U.K., and Robert Hart, of U.K.-based educational consultants Intuitive Media, also claim that mothers are more likely to lend a helping hand than fathers when these technologies fail.

Uh … really? I find this pretty surprising. The number of electronic gadgets and gizmos piled up in my brothers’ room always far outweighed the number in mine. Besides the Sega Game Gear that I wore thin playing Sonic, most of the new technologies in our household belonged to them. I could kick some serious butt at Mario Cart, but only on my brother’s Nintendo 64. And when the electronics malfunctioned, it was Dad, not Mom, we called upon.

In this press release, Pine says that “overall, mothers are more likely to engage with their children using new technologies, especially when it comes to formal learning or research. The mothers were also the most experienced and capable computer and Internet users.” This may be true for some households, but it definitely wasn’t in mine.

Given that technology fields like engineering and IT are dominated by males, not females, it would seem natural that this starts at home–contrary to the study results. Then again, over the past few years, there has been a “call to action” to increase the number of women in IT, especially given the news that the number is actually decreasing.

Tellingly, the report, called “Learning in the Family,” only takes into account PCs and laptops–not gaming systems and other gadgets. The percentages also seem quite close: 94 percent of girls compared with 88 percent of boys said that they used a computer or laptop at home.

The report was launched today by Intuitive Media Research Services, which commissioned the report. It was funded by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta).

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the state of women in technology, and whether you think the trend will be an increase or a decrease in women in the field.

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