An annual, national survey of college freshmen reveals that the women feel less confident about their computer-use skills than the men. The fall 2000 survey undertaken by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies shows that 78.5 percent of first-year students had been using computers regularly during the year before enrolling in college. The percentage is the highest ever for the annual survey, representing a jump of more than 10 percent over the previous year's finding of 68.4 percent.
Though the survey found that women have virtually closed the gender gap in computer use, first-year-undergraduate women were only half as likely as first-year-undergraduate men to assess their computer-use skills as "above average" or within the top 10 percent, according to the study. Only 23.2 percent of women had high regard for their computer skills compared to 46.4 percent of the men.
UCLA officials pointed out that the self-confidence gap may contribute to the trend that men are five times more likely to seek careers in computer programming - 9.3 percent of men compared to 1.8 percent of the women. The survey shows that 77.8 percent of undergraduate women and 79.5 percent of men were using computers regularly just prior to their enrollment as first-year students. …