Community attitudes and an ICT intervention program for school girls

2017-03-01T23:56:56Z (GMT) by McLeod, Amber
Women are under-represented in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The proportion of females to males is low in the workforce, in tertiary institutions, and at secondary school. Intervention programs designed to encourage more females to have an interest in ICT have, in many cases, failed to have the expected impact of a growth in female numbers. A possible explanation is that ICT and gender stereotypes held in society are discouraging females from an interest in the area. In this thesis, the importance of community attitudes towards ICT to the outcome of the Digital Divas Intervention (DD) Program, run in secondary schools in Australia from 2009 to 2012, is investigated. The communities surrounding two DD program cohorts from secondary schools in Victoria, Australia, were surveyed in terms of their attitudes towards gender and ICT, ICT people and jobs, and the importance and enjoyment of computing. These community attitudes were then compared with attitudinal change among the DD students after participation in the DD program. A pattern emerged indicating that changes in attitude among the DD students, after participation in the DD program, generally occurred when there was a diversity of attitudes across community sub-groups; when community sub-group attitudes were uniform such changes generally did not occur. In addition, the assumptions underpinning the DD program were not always correct; this may have inadvertently negatively influenced its outcomes.