About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5996-6004
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: THE WOMEN IN IT DILEMMA

C. Daviault

University of Otago (NEW ZEALAND)
For the past 20 years, there has been increasing concern and interest in understanding why the proportion of women in information technology (IT) has remained not only low but also in decline. In the U.S. that proportion went from a high of 36 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2009 [2]. More significantly, the number of incoming undergraduate women interested in majoring in Computer Science has gone down by 79 percent between 2000 and 2008 [1]. Numerous interventions in schools, the workforce, and at the community level have failed to attract more women in IT. Parents, teachers, and employers alike are worried that women are being left behind in a world increasingly dependent on IT for learning, working and leisure.

Digital games have been used to facilitate the development of computer skills in the hope of triggering an interest in IT. More often than not, female participants were segregated to avoid male interference with their apprenticeship. This paper argues that it is unnatural to segregate women and that more emphasis should instead have been put on the benefits of peer support. This stems from research ([3], [4]) on Massively Multiplayer Online (MMOs) games hinting at a possible correlation between women’s introduction to online games and the intervention of a partner. Yee [5] found that 27 percent of female players were introduced to MMOs by a romantic partner indicating that for a sizeable portion of women playing MMOs, coaching plays a key role.

Existing research on gender/gaming has focused primarily on gaming preferences, stereotypes, and differences between men and women’s playing styles. Instead, this paper, highlighting preliminary results from a study conducted at the University of Otago, focuses on how women are introduced to the game, on the process of learning to play computer games online and on the involvement of a partner for support. More specifically, this study examines how peer tutoring can help women learn to play hardcore computer games online and if this can lead to an increased interest and skill level in computer-related activities—the term hardcore is used here in opposition to casual games. Hardcore games are generally more challenging and offer more possibilities for the acquisition of computer-related skills.

This study tries to find a new way to increase women’s participation and overall skill level in IT-related activities because society’s heavy reliance on computer technologies to design and produce everything today means that we live in an increasingly male-centric world. Until women participate more fully in the computer-economy, this will not change.

References:
[1] National Center for Women & Information Technology. (2009). By the Numbers. Retrieved 2 September 2009 from http://www.ncwit.org/pdf/BytheNumbers09.pdf
[2] National Center for Women & Information Technology. (2010). Women in IT: The Facts. Retrieved 7 July 2010 from http://www.ncwit.org/resources.thefacts.html
[3] Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play between worlds : exploring online game culture. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
[4] Yee, N. (2008). Maps of Digital Desires: Exploring the Topography of Gender and Play in Online Games. In Y. B. Kafai, C. Heeter, J. Denner & J. Y. Sun (Eds.), Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming (pp. 83-96). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
[5] Ibid, p. 86.
@InProceedings{DAVIAULT2010FIN,
author = {Daviault, C.},
title = {FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: THE WOMEN IN IT DILEMMA},
series = {3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-2439-9},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {15-17 November, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {5996-6004}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Daviault
TI - FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: THE WOMEN IN IT DILEMMA
SN - 978-84-614-2439-9/2340-1095
PY - 2010
Y1 - 15-17 November, 2010
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2010 Proceedings
SP - 5996
EP - 6004
ER -
C. Daviault (2010) FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: THE WOMEN IN IT DILEMMA, ICERI2010 Proceedings, pp. 5996-6004.
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