[ubuntu-uk] Age and gender

norman norman at littletank.org
Wed Aug 27 20:26:00 BST 2008

Many years ago, when my wife was a teacher of modern foreign languages
and schools had very few computers, the question of girls versus boys in
the use of computers was often discussed at some length. As a
generalisation, it was very obvious that boys were very keen to get
there hands on the few machines that were available, whereas the girls
were not. One theory put forward was that girls were reluctant to risk
using the computer in case they damaged it (put down to maternal
instinct) while the boys did not care. Also, those girls who were
prepared to take the risk often could not get a look in because the boys
had got there first. Another factor was that the school computers were
usually used in subjects such as maths and science which were seen as
boy subjects while the girls were more comfortable with the arts and

I became involved in a scheme to try to encourage the girls to get some
computer experience by producing some simple games to help in the
learning of languages. So, for the first time, the computer on its
trolley, was taken from the maths room or the science lab into the
languages department. There, the girls were encouraged to sit at the
keyboard and, those that did, soon realised that nothing drastic or
terminal was going to happen.

This was about 25 years ago and bears no comparison with schools today
but I wonder how much the mothers of today are still influenced by those
experiences when they were at school. 


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