Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Are Men More Technology-Oriented Than Women? the Role of Gender on the Development of General Computer Self-Efficacy of College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Are Men More Technology-Oriented Than Women? the Role of Gender on the Development of General Computer Self-Efficacy of College Students

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Over the decades, IS researchers have struggled to identify factors that cause people to accept and make effective use of information technologies (Compeau and Higgins, 1995; King and He, 2006). Several theories and approaches have been put forth to address this issue. For example, the early studies of Lucas (1975, 1978) provide evidence that individual or behavioral factors have large influences on IT adoption; Goodhue (1988) presents the Task-Technology Fit model to posit that information systems will enhance job performance only when there is correspondence between their functionality and the task requirements of users; Davis (1989) develops the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to explain the potential user's behavioral intention to use a technological innovation; Moore and Benbasat (1991) investigate people's perceptions of technology adoption based on Diffusion of Innovations; Compeau and Higgins (1995) adopt the Social Cognitive Theory and argue that one's computer behaviors are largely influenced by the person's perception of computer self-efficacy.

Whatever the theoretical perspective being selected, many researchers recommend incorporating individual characteristics into a research model either as control variables or as independent variables to study the cognitive, affective, and/or behavioral reactions of individuals to technology (Gefen and Straub, 1997; Venkatesh and Morris, 2000). Gender as a salient demographic factor has a profound influence on one's reactions to technology (Morris et al., 2005). However, evidence concerning the effect of gender is far from conclusive. Previous studies have found that females present higher levels of anxiety (Beyer, 2008; Bozionelos, 1996; Harrison et al., 1997; Igbaria and Chakrabarti, 1990) and lower levels of attitudes toward computers (Felter, 1985; Franz and Robey, 1986; Young, 2000); however, non-significant differences (Havelka, 2003; Howard and Smith, 1986; Igbaria, 1993) have also been reported in the literature. Similar patterns exist for the actual usage of information technologies. Research demonstrates contradictory evidences that females are less likely (Taylor, 2004) or equally likely (Atan et al., 2002; Morris et al., 2005; Venkatesh and Morris, 2000) to use a target system when compared with their male counterparts. In addition, previous research focuses largely on perceptual differences between the two demographic groups; the mechanisms that cause such differences have been rarely explored in the literature (Venkatesh and Morris, 2000).

Given the fast pace of the development and proliferation of information technology, understanding the role gender plays in shaping one's attitudes and beliefs about information technology is especially important today (Morris et al., 2005). This study investigates the mechanisms through which gender affects individual perceptions toward computers. We select general computer self-efficacy as the main dependent variable for our research for two reasons: (1) as a core construct in the social cognitive theory, self-efficacy is widely accepted as a key factor regulating one's computer behaviors; (2) as a fundamental psychological state, self-efficacy shapes one's attitudes and decisions toward IT usage by influencing key beliefs such as perceived ease of use (Davis, 1989; Venkatesh and Davis, 1996).

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2. THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND HYPOTHESES

In the study, we investigate the mechanisms through which gender affects the development of general CSE of individuals. We propose that gender affects one's reactions to computers by justifying the learning practice and influencing the attitudes, thereby shaping the perceived confidence of using computers. The research model is presented in Figure 1.

2.1 The Role of Gender on Learning Practices and Attitudes

Gender research in psychology provides a solid theoretical ground for the applied research of gender differences in numerous settings (Venkatesh and Morris, 2000). …

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