Review of Related Literature on Gender, Elementary Students, and Technology

by Nicole Luongo

?Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations? (Sadker & Sadker, 1994a, p. 1). This quote by Sadker and Sadker portrays how gender affects the educational experience of many students in today?s educational world. This review of the literature examines the connection between gender, elementary students, and technology. In order to gain a full understanding of the correlation between gender and technology in elementary school classrooms, the researcher considered relevant past findings and informative literature related to the subjects. Much of the research that has been conducted on gender and technology was additionally associated with gender and other educational subjects such as mathematics and science.


The researcher used several methods to locate and retrieve data for this literature review (Galvan, 1999). Gall, Gall, and Borg (1999) suggested four steps in the literature review process: searching preliminary sources, using secondary sources, reading primary sources, and synthesizing the literature. Initially, the researcher searched for preliminary sources using relevant databases, which were available through the Nova Southeastern University online library. The researcher searched the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), Dissertation Abstracts, and Wilson Web using the following keywords or descriptors: gender, sex, gender bias, gender equity, technology, technology use, computer, elementary, and education. After the initial search was narrowed down through trial and error, the researcher shortened the list to a manageable size. The researcher found that searching for the keywords gender, gender equity, technology, and elementary provided many of the desired results.

In addition to the database searches, the researcher employed Internet search functions such as the Yahoo and Google search engines to find additional preliminary and secondary sources. These search engines provided links to a variety of information on gender, elementary education, and technology. The Internet searches allowed the researcher to get a sense of the gender and technology websites that are accessible to the public. Many of these websites provided reference pages and links that the researcher included in the literature review.

During the next phase of the research process, the researcher selected the most appropriate articles and books (Galvan, 1999). As the researcher examined the most current articles, she used their reference pages as useful indicators for further investigation. These reference pages helped the researcher locate many theoretical articles on the subject. Furthermore, the reference pages assisted in the discovery of several landmark studies (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1992, 2000; Sadker & Sadker, 1994). Once the preliminary database and Internet searches were completed, the researcher collected books, book reviews, journal articles, dissertation abstracts, and reports using a variety of sources such as the local libraries and the Nova Southeastern University library.

After synthesizing the literature, the researcher divided the literature review into several sections. The first section of the literature review discusses gender issues in the general education setting. These studies and research projects originated from various educational perspectives and backgrounds. The second section focuses on gender issues prevalent in elementary schools. It examines past, present, and predicted future elementary educational gender patterns. Finally, the researcher examines the connection between gender and technology use in the elementary classroom.
Analysis and Discussion:

Gender Differences in Education

Over the past several decades, the topics of gender equity and gender differences have been rising issues in education (Sprinthall, Sprinthall, & Oja, 1994). Sadker and Sadker (1994a) claimed that when educational inequality is mentioned, most people instinctively think of racial inequality. The authors suggested that the issues of sexism and gender discrimination are often overlooked. ?While the record of racial injustice is at the forefront of our national conscience, history books still do not tell the story of profound sexism at school? (Sadker & Sadker, p. 15). Recently, national educational reforms have begun to acknowledge gender differences between female and male students.

Definitions of Gender and Gender Bias

Although the terms sex and gender are used interchangeably in many writings, some authors have differentiated between the terms (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1992; Sanders, 2003). In its 1992 report, the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation used the term sex to refer to individuals as biologically female or male. On the other hand, the AAUW report used the term gender to denote the set of expectations imposed by society on girls and boys simply because they are female or male. Sanders explained that sex is the way in which an individual was born, whereas gender is what the individual learns about the proper way for the sexes to behave.

Gender bias is another term that has been defined by various theorists (e. g., Owens, Smothers, & Love, 2003; Sanders, 2002b). Owens, Smothers, and Love defined gender bias in education as the treatment of boys and girls differently in schools. Gender bias includes how teachers respond to students, what subjects and topics students are encouraged to study, and how textbooks and other materials represent gender roles. In addition, Sanders claimed that it is society?s emphasis on gender differences that creates two separate sets of values, beliefs, and assumptions for girls and for boys that restrict opportunities for each gender.

History of Title IX

In 1972, Congress approved a law that required schools to provide equal educational opportunities to both boys and girls (Shapiro, Kramer, & Hunerberg, 1981). This law was known as Title IX and stated, ?No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance? (Shapiro, Kramer, & Hunerberg, p. 139). Under Title IX, gender bias was outlawed in school athletics, career counseling, medical services, financial aid, admission practices, and treatment of students (Sadker & Sadker, 1994a). The law declared that if schools did not follow Title IX, they would lose federal funding. Three years after the law was passed, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare developed specific guidelines to help schools follow the Title IX regulations.

Even with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare guidelines, teachers and administrators continued to struggle with the Title IX law (AAUW Educational Foundation, 1992; Shapiro, Kramer, & Hunerberg, 1981). Shapiro, Kramer, and Hunerberg cited several reasons for this problem. Most likely, teachers and administrators possess gender bias because they are products of the schools in which they now teach. Thereby, the gender stereotypes and attitudes that were present when they attended school are unconsciously established in their beliefs and teaching behaviors.

Some researchers (e. g., AAUW Educational Foundation, 1992; Shapiro, Kramer, & Hunerberg, 1981) maintain that educators possess a lack of awareness and understanding of Title IX. Hence, many teachers and administrators have a ?less than a complete grasp of what Title IX covers? (Shapiro, Kramer, & Hunerberg, p. 140). The regulations brought upon the field of education by Title IX are long, complex, and detailed; the regulations range from pre-school level to college level, making comprehension of the law even more difficult. The AAUW report studied 25 rural school districts in 21 states, and found that 37 percent of school administrators saw no Title IX compliance issues in their schools. Yet, the AAUW found Title IX violations appeared to exist in these schools in several forms.

Nature Versus Nurture

Throughout time, there has been a debate over whether the differences between males and females are learned or innate (Sprinthall, Sprinthall, & Oja, 1994). Sprinthall, Sprinthall, and Oja discussed two main schools of thought regarding gender differences and psychology: environmentalism and geneticism. Environmentalists explain gender differences as learned; they feel the differences are a direct result of the way our society and culture treats and differentiates between the genders. Sanders (2003) maintained these imbalances begin ?with the pink and blue receiving blankets which are still used in hospitals today? (p. 26). On the other hand, geneticists insist that the gender differences are innate. They claim that the cultural argument has been generalized far beyond the physiological facts. Geneticists, such as neurologist Richard Restak, claim that ?there are indeed fundamental differences, both chemical and morphological, between the male and female brains? (Sprinthall, Sprinthall, & Oja, p. 65).

Environmentalists such as Pollack (1998) believe that nurture and an individual?s environment have a greater effect than nature on the formation of gender differences. Pollack?s research focused on the myths surrounding boys and education. Since Pollack found that nurture played a large part in the composition of boys, the author argued that most of the myths surrounding boys are false. One myth suggested that the nature of a boy?s physical composition will win out over his nurturing environment. Pollack disagreed with this concept by claiming, ?My clinical experience and research?as well as work done by others?have shown that most boys, when lovingly nurtured themselves, will in turn nurture and show empathy for others? (p. 91). Moreover, Pollack renounced the claim that ?boys should be boys? (p. 94) by fulfilling the stereotypical model of the dominant and assertive male. Pollack stressed that masculinity is diverse; in fact, there are many ways to be a boy. Finally, Pollack challenged the myth that there is something inherently dangerous and toxic about boys. In reality, the author found sufficient evidence that boys are highly empathetic.
In contrast, geneticists believe that nature plays the pivotal role in gender differences (Gurian, 1996; Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, 2000). After studying boys and their physical compositions, Gurian concluded that biology, not society, has created a gap between the two genders. Gurian discussed the importance of testosterone and how the male brain works. Although Gurian explained that there is clear evidence of male and female brain differences, he emphasized that brain research does not mean biology is destiny. More accurately, biology is proclivity. When discussing the nature of what he called ?boy culture? (p. 121), Gurian asked, ?What can we do for it? It will form whether we like it or not because the male brain will create it? (p. 121).

In 2000, Gipps, McCallum, and Hargreaves expanded on Gurian?s (1996) findings. The researchers studied the ways in which teachers viewed the learning differences between boys and girls. Although the majority of the teacher subjects claimed there was no apparent learning difference between males and females, the researchers found three teachers who stated clearly that the reason they believed boys learned differently than girls was due to biological factors. One of these teachers stated, ?I suppose a lot of it has to do with stereotyping, but I also do believe that physiologically, intellectually?. they are actually different? (Gipps, McCallum, & Hargreaves, p. 113).
However, Thorne (1993) found that there are as many differences within the same gender as there are between the two genders. Thorne observed various male and female children interactions in classrooms and on playgrounds. Although the research showed some differences between the genders, Thorne could not make any gender-specific deductions. In fact, the researcher found more variations within the same gender than between the two different ones. Thorne concluded, ?within-gender variation is greater than differences between boys and girls taken as groups? (p. 139).

Pre-Service Teachers and Awareness of Gender

The education of pre-service teachers and their awareness of gender equity in the classroom is another significant area that should be considered (Campbell & Sanders, 1997; Sadker, 1999; Sanders, 2000b). Sadker stated, ?Teacher education and staff development programs do little to prepare teachers to see the subtle, unintentional, but damaging gender bias that still characterizes classrooms? (p. 22). Sanders claimed that ?gender equity is in its infancy in teacher education? (p. 242). In 1997, Campbell and Sanders studied a national sample of 353 college-level methods instructors in mathematics, science, and technology. The researchers found ?while three-fourths of the respondents said they considered gender equity important, most taught it less than two hours a semester? (Sanders, p. 242). Zittleman and Sadker (as cited in Sanders) asserted that most of the gender equity education that pre-service teachers received happened in their teacher education courses. Sanders surmised, ?if students don?t learn about gender equity in teacher education, they probably won?t learn about it at all? (p. 243).

There are efforts being made to incorporate more gender equity instruction into pre-service teacher education programs (Sanders, 1997, 2002b). Campbell and Sanders (1997) contended that pre-service teacher education does not provide enough attention to gender equity issues. In order to improve this condition, ?colleges, schools and departments of education must decide whether they believe that gender equity has a legitimate place in the curriculum of preservice teacher education? (Sanders, 2002b, p. 243). The researcher offered several suggestions that could ease this transition. First, Sanders (2002b) argued that gender equity must become systemic. Additionally, it must be on the agenda of the teacher education profession as well as the college or university that is schooling the pre-service teachers. Finally, teacher educators need a concise program of instruction as well as materials to establish a reliable means of teaching gender equity. Sanders warned, ?The silence on the topic must not continue? (2002b, p. 243).
Gender and the Treatment of Students in Elementary School

There are two main schools of thought in examining how the genders are treated in elementary schools. Some theorists (e. g., AAUW Educational Foundation, 1992; Thorne, 1993) contend that boys and girls are treated unequally. These researchers attribute gender inequity and stereotypes for many of the problems that both girls and boys face in present-day schools. On the other hand, other authors such as Dykes (2000) claim that gender inequity is not to blame for the inadequacies found in schools. In order to explain the problems in today?s schools, Dykes criticized the education system as a whole.
Several studies have shown that girls and boys are treated differently in schools (AAUW Educational Foundation, 1992, 2000). In 1992, the AAUW Educational Foundation studied the common assumption that girls and boys are treated equally in our public schools. The foundation found that they are not treated equally. In fact, the study claimed that girls are shortchanged in many aspects of the national educational system. Additionally, Gilligan (as cited in Dykes, 2000) claimed that America?s girls are in crisis. The researcher argued that girls and boys developed differently, but that girls were not inferior to the boys.

Dykes (2000) believed the notion that girls are shortchanged emerged from political propaganda disguised as science. Dykes claimed that the studies conducted by Gilligan and the 1992 AAUW report were not scientific. In fact, Dykes felt much of what the AAUW presented was a myth. The author believed there is not a boys? crisis or a girls? crisis, but rather an education crisis. The author suggested that policymakers should redirect their attention from studying gender myths to focusing on true education reforms.

The Hidden Curriculum

Although most schools have a standard written curriculum, some authors (e. g., Best, 1983; Owens, Smothers, & Love, 2003) suggest that there is also a hidden curriculum within these institutions. In the mid 1970?s, Best studied an elementary school located in the Central Atlantic region of the United States of America. At the conclusion of the examination, Best claimed there was more than one curriculum in schools. The author defined the first curriculum as the academic one that presents mathematics, reading, and writing. The second curriculum was classified as a gender-role socialization curriculum, which teaches children the traditional role behavior for the sexes. Owens, Smothers, and Love stated that what teachers say and do not say, their body language, what they do, and who they call upon form a hidden curriculum that is more powerful than any textbook lesson they could present.
Best (1983) argued that the power of the teacher as well as the school had much influence over the manner in which the gender-role socialization curriculum was carried out. Gipps, McCallum, and Hargreaves (2000) found that teachers believed girls and boys had learned to act differently because of cultural stereotyping. This presumption can lead teachers to expect certain behaviors from females and males. One of the teachers in the examination pronounced, ?If we go on expecting boys to learn differently and expecting them to be more boisterous, then they live up to those expectations? (Gipps, McCallum, & Hargreaves, p. 114).

Boys in the Feminine Elementary School

Researchers (Kindlon & Thompson, 1999; Sadker & Sadker, 1994b) have found that some young boys have trouble adjusting to the elementary school atmosphere. Sadker and Sadker maintained that boys often have difficulty complying with the rules and regulations of the traditional elementary school. ?Raised to be active, aggressive, and independent, boys enter schools that seem to want them to be quiet, passive, and conforming? (Sadker & Sadker, p. 183). Kindlon and Thompson suggested the reason behind this problem develops from a combination of biology and society. The researchers asserted boys mature at a slower pace than girls. Additionally, ?boys are more active and slower to develop impulse control than girls? (Kindlon, & Thompson, p. 162). Although some boys will rise to the top of the class, Sadker and Sadker concluded that the aforementioned issues will cause some boys to land at the bottom.

Furthermore, elementary schools have been characterized as feminine places where girls are largely ignored and rewarded for passive behavior (Kindlon & Thompson, 1999; Owens, Smothers, & Love, 2003; Sadker & Sadker, 1994a). In 1965, Patricia Sexton (as cited in Sadker & Sadker, 1994b) asserted, ?It is that school is too much a woman?s world, governed by women?s rules and standards. The school code is that of propriety, obedience, decorum, cleanliness, physical, and, too often, mental passivity? (p. 190). Owens, Smothers, and Love claimed that girls are rewarded for conforming to classroom rules by essentially being ignored by their teachers. Likewise, Kindlon and Thompson claimed, ?Grade school is largely a feminine environment, populated predominantly by women teachers and authority figures? (p. 155). Additionally, Sadker and Sadker (1994a) claimed that women who have spent years learning the lessons of silence in elementary classrooms have trouble regaining their voices later in life.
Gender and Educational Technology

Building on the concept that there are differences in the way the genders respond to educational experiences, several studies have examined the constructs of gender and educational technology (AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000; Dooling, 1999; Rice, 1999). Technology use in schools across the country has increased dramatically over the past several decades. Due to national mandates, computer technology has been improved and made available for most students. Many classrooms are now equipped with computers and Internet access as well as television monitors and additional technologies. These technological improvements have provided many students with opportunities to use and discover computer technology. The AAUW Educational Foundation affirmed, ?The question is no longer whether computers will be in the classrooms, but how computers can be used to enhance teaching and learning? (p. ix).
Furthermore, the use of computer technology should provide equivalent learning experiences for both genders (AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000). The AAUW Educational Foundation?s commission reviewed existing research, talked with researchers, and listened to girls? and teachers? observations about computing. Based on their findings, the commission made several suggestions and recommendations to improve the quality of the computer culture for all learners.

Some theorists (e. g., Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett, Clements, & Hawkins, 1991; Brunner & Bennett, 1998) believe there are cultural and sociological reasons behind gender differences and technology. In essence, technology, gender, and society are interrelated and cannot be separated. Christie (1996) claimed, ?Technology does not exist in a vacuum; it exists only in social contexts, and as such, exists in a gendered world? (p. 2). Furthermore, Christie claimed that the vast majority of people assume that there is a gender gap in computer usage, computer competencies, computer attitudes, and computer profession choices.

Christie (1996) considered the connection between gender and technology to be constructed within a culture and not inherently genetic. The researcher studied three groups of elementary school children to see how the children used and viewed technology, and how gender intersected with these experiences. After the researcher introduced the subjects to both e-mail and tools for browsing the Internet, the children were responsible for how they spent their time each day using the technology. Christie used interpretive methods called ?snapshots? to examine the subjects. They were asked to participate in e-mail interaction, daily journal writing, navigation logs, and newsletter creations. The researcher generated several assertions about the children, gender, and technology. Girls defined computers as tools that foster collaboration, connection, and communication, whereas boys defined computers as fun technologies for finding information and playing games. Girls centered around people while boys focused around events and things.

Perception of Gender and Technology

Likewise, Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett, Clements, and Hawkins (1991) found that females and males perceive technology in distinct manners. The researchers studied the activity of design as a possible way to support alternative pathways for girls in to the world of technology. The study examined 24 adult technology experts, 41 girl adolescents, and 39 boy adolescents. Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett, Clements, and Hawkins found that ?women commonly saw technological instruments as people connectors, communication, and collaboration devices. . . . The men, in contrast, tended to envision technology as extensions of their power over the physical universe? (p. 331). Correspondingly, Brunner and Bennett (1998) asserted that the feminine attitude towards technology focuses on its social function, while the masculine view concentrates on the machine itself. Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett, Clements, and Hawkins concluded that girls view technology as embedded in human interaction whereas boys view technology as extensions of their power.

Even though research shows that females and males differ in the ways they view technology, some scholars (e. g. AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000; Starr, 2000) question the assumption that females are less likely than males to be interested in technology. In the mid-1980?s, there was a movement that began doubting the notion that females were less likely to be drawn to computer careers than males (Christie, 1996). Even though statistics show that there are fewer females in computer laboratories and computer-related professions, Turkle (as cited in Starr) asserted that girls are not fearful of technology; they are simply uninspired and alienated by the way the K-12 education system presents computing to them. The AAUW Educational Foundation interprets the females? behavior not as a phobia, but rather as a choice.
The AAUW Educational Foundation (2000) argued it is the computer culture that creates girls? disillusionment with technology. The computer culture refers to ?the social, psychological, educational, and philosophical meanings associated with information technology? (AAUW Educational Foundation , p. 7). McGrath (2004) explained, ?The AAUW Report found, not surprisingly, that girls do not like the computer game culture or the narrow and technical focus of computer science? (p. 29). Moreover, girls were more likely to take computer applications courses and generally disapproved of what they viewed as the machine focus that boys possessed.

The AAUW Educational Foundation (2000) contended that women and men have equal capacity in the area of computing, but the women are less interested in getting involved. Females? limited involvement with computers has more to do with their disenchantment with technology rather than their phobias or intellectual deficiencies. Brunner and Bennett (1998) agreed with the AAUW report by explaining that girls are more ambivalent about technology than boys. Furthermore, the AAUW Educational Foundation claimed the girls in their studies expressed ?a ?we can, but don?t want to? philosophy? (p. 7).

Research (e.g., Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett,
Clements, & Hawkins, 1991; Dooling, 1999) has shown that there are gender differences in certain computer technology attitudes and beliefs in elementary students. Dooling examined the beliefs that children in grades 4, 5, 6, and 7 hold regarding computer technology and the factors that influence those attitudes. The researcher studied 1427 students, 176 teachers, and 9 administrators in three elementary schools and three middle schools. Dooling found statistically significant gender differences, in favor of males, in self-efficacy and outcome expectancy beliefs regarding computer technology as early as fourth grade.

Social Interactions and Gender Bias

Dooling (1999) found that both males and females learn a great deal about computer technology through social interactions with experienced adults and peers as well as through school experiences with technology. Moreover, gender stereotypes are often reinforced by parental examples using technology (AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000). Dooling noted that fathers played a large role in the social interactions of these subjects and technology. The AAUW Educational Foundation acknowledged, ?girls report that their fathers are more comfortable with computer technology than their mothers? (p. 52).
Gender and Technology Behaviors
Another factor in gender differences and technology use is related to the children?s behaviors in the classroom and at home (e. g., AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000; Christie, 1997). Siann, MacLeod, Glissov, and Durndell (as cited in Christie) claimed these behaviors begin in elementary schools where many boys tend to dominate computer use by crowding girls out. Boys are often more likely to be chosen than girls to assist the teachers with technology in the classroom (Sanders, as cited in Christie). Conversely, ?girls who behave aggressively in computer-rich settings risk becoming unpopular with boys and girls alike? (AAUW Educational Foundation, p. 25). Therefore, girls find acting passive is the safest and most rational manner in which to act.
Parents? actions and reactions to the different genders can additionally affect the way students view technology (e. g., AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000; Christie, 1997) The AAUW Educational Foundation maintained that ?parents of boys are more likely to buy computers for them, place them in the boys? rooms, or enroll them in computer camps than parents of girls? (p. 52). Hess and Miura (as cited in Christie) concurred that boys were more likely than girls to participate in summer computer camps. Furthermore, these external technology experiences may be the reasons why boys come to school with more technological knowledge and thereby dominate the technological domain.

The AAUW Educational Foundation (2000) made several suggestions to neutralize the gender bias related to technology. It suggested introducing technology at an early age to discourage stereotypes. Additionally, families should attempt to place the household computer in a gender-neutral area. The AAUW suggested placing the computer in an accessible place, but not in a male child?s room or the father?s office. The availability of the computer should encourage family-centered activities, rather than viewing the computer as an individual, solitary pursuit.

Software Gender Bias and Selection

Researchers have also studied the relationships between gender and the selection of software (e. g., AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000; Ferguson-Pabst, Persichitte, Lohr, & Pearman, 2003). The AAUW Educational Foundation contended that most computer games are designed for men by men, have subject matter of interest to boys, and are marketed towards males. Furthermore, many of the characters in today?s educational software are males. The AAUW Educational Foundation stated, ?A review of popular mathematics programs intended for grades kindergarten through six showed that only 12 percent of the gender-identifiable characters were female, and that these characters played passive traditional roles? (p. 29). The AAUW Educational Foundation suggested focusing on girls as software designers by encouraging them to imagine themselves early in life as producers of software and games, rather than just consumers or users of the software.

On the other hand, Ferguson-Pabst, Persichitte, Lohr, and Pearman (2003) claimed that gender does not affect the software selection process of elementary students. The researchers studied software selection by gender, grade level, and teacher variables. The researchers examined 202 third, fourth, and fifth grade students in a single elementary school in Colorado. Individual students were presented with four pieces of mathematical software, and allowed to choose their preference. Ferguson-Pabst, Persichitte, Lohr, and Pearman found ?few significant differences for gender and grade level selection of software? (p. 19). Additionally, the study revealed that the individual teacher often plays a significant role in student?s software choices. Ferguson-Pabst, Persichitte, Lohr, and Pearman suggested conducting further research in the area of teacher attitudes and methods relating to computers, software, and technology.

Gender and Technology Stereotypes

Unconscious stereotyping can often play a role in perpetuating the gender inequity in technology education (Harding, as cited in Sanders & Tescione, 2002). In 2000, the Northwest Educational Technology Consortium (as cited in Sanders & Tescione) defined several of these abovementioned stereotypes. First, teachers often assume boys are more interested in computers than are girls. Likewise, they presume girls do not like programming or are not interested in computers. Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennett, Clements, and Hawkins (1991) claimed that from a very early age, boys are expected and encouraged by their teachers to learn about machines, tools, and other technologies. On the other hand, many teachers do not expect girls to be familiar with technical matters. Sanders and Tescione alleged, ?Teachers with these attitudes subtly transmit them to girls? (p. 104).
Research has shown that stereotyping may be correlated to the teacher?s gender (AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000). When asked who is more interested in the mechanics of computer technology, the AAUW Educational Foundation found that 71 percent of male teachers chose male students and only one percent of male teachers chose female students. In contrast, 66 percent of the female teachers in the study found male and female students about equal in ability to use the technology. Moreover, male teachers were more likely to describe their female students in passive and disinterested terms, while female teachers viewed girl students as more competent.

Gender stereotyping is often maintained through certain teacher behaviors (Rice, 1995). Armitage (as cited in Rice) described several of these behaviors. They included calling on boys more than girls, accepting boys? answers more than girls? answers, asking boys more interpretative questions and girls more factual ones, positioning their bodies toward boys more than girls, circulating more to boys? desks than to girls? desks, and telling boys how to solve problems while solving the problems for the girls. Sadker and Sadker (1994a) found ?that boys call out eight times more often than girls? (p. 43). Moreover, Sanders (as cited in Christie, 1997) contended that many girls feel that the computer lab is off limits to them, and is primarily a place for boys and men. The AAUW Educational Foundation (2000) explained that these behaviors can promote gender bias in technology education.

Gender and Teacher Training

Teachers may require more inservice training in order to manage many of these gender issues (Sanders, 2002a, 2002b). In a study conducted in 1993, a team of 22 teachers, administrators, science educators, and faculty members met to discuss the role of technology in the River Grove Elementary School in Lake Oswego, Oregon (Rice, 1995). The study identified many problems such as the lack of teacher confidence in women teachers teaching math, science, and technology. Additionally, Rice recommended several strategies to address gender inequities in the classroom. Four of the teachers who were recently provided with new technology in their classrooms were interviewed. The interviewed teachers revealed a strong desire for inservice resources and resource personnel to support their use of technology in their classrooms. Additionally, the teachers agreed that it would be important to include gender equity issues in the content of the inservice training sessions.

Research has also been conducted regarding teacher education in gender equity and technology (Sanders, 2002a). As was previously discussed, institutions of education must decide whether gender equity has a valid position in the instruction of preservice teacher education programs. Once these institutions acknowledge the need for gender equity education in the preparation of future teachers, there are several points they should follow. Sanders suggested viewing gender equity as universal and not isolated. Also, teachers and teacher educators ?need a concise program of instruction and materials to jumpstart their new expertise, and a way must be found to give it to them? (p. 243). Finally, the gender equity issue needs to be on the agenda of more teacher education programs.

Suggestions for Improvement

In order to improve the gender inequity, specifically in technology education, researchers (AAUW Educational Foundation, 2000) have also made suggestions. The AAUW Educational Foundation is currently involved in a research agenda that includes a focus on girls? and young women?s educational preparation for the technological, information-driven economy. The AAUW Educational Foundation defined what it would mean to achieve gender equity in the computer culture. It developed two main schools of thought. Some researchers suggested getting ?more girls into the ?pipeline? to computer-related careers and to participate in these disciplines and pursuits? (AAUW Educational Foundation, p. 3). The other school of thought proposed that the computer culture itself be transformed through the integration of girls? and women?s insights. The AAUW Educational Foundation considered these two views as complimentary of one another.


In light of the research conducted in this literature review, it is safe to assume that there are various correlations between the constructs of gender, elementary students, and technology. Although there are certainly conflicting and differing views surrounding the issues of gender and technology, this preliminary review should serve several purposes. First, the findings of this review may prove helpful to educators, administrators and researchers interested in examining technology integration in elementary schools. The researcher found many informational studies, past findings, and pieces of literature related to the topics. Furthermore, the researcher determined that there is not a simple answer as to how the constructs are related. In fact, there are many interpretations and analyses surrounding the issues. Moreover, the review of the literature provided several ideas and recommendations for future studies related to gender and technology. Maybe one day the boys and girls in the classroom that Sadker and Sadker (1994) described will be ?sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher? (p. 4), and receiving similar educations.


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