Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women and Information Technology: How Do Female Students of Education Perceive Information Technology, and What Is Their Approach toward It?

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Women and Information Technology: How Do Female Students of Education Perceive Information Technology, and What Is Their Approach toward It?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information technologies, and the Internet in particular, have created a new area for social studies. The Internet is a social space which raises questions about the essence of gender and in which gender-based characteristics are expressed.

The Internet influences human activity, as well as social-emotional and educational changes. The link between these is expressed in the two qualities of the Internet: a means of communication and a center of information.

Technology is perceived as a world in which a prominent gender gap exists. This gap in common perceptions is a product of various elements, including accessibility, resources and leisure, but to an extent it is also a product of men's and women's approaches to technology. This issue is expressed in the field of education. Bates (1999) asserts that the new forms of media change the form and nature of human knowledge, and that such changes inevitably lead to comprehensive changes to the teaching profession. The effects of these developments are mainly visible in fields of higher education (Bates, 1997, 1999; Fetterman, 1998; Fox, 1999; Schifter, 2000).

The gender gap in computer usage begins as early as in childhood, emphasized within the family setting, and persists throughout adolescence. Technology and computer skills constitute a substantial factor in the advancement and economic status of whole sectors of society. According to this approach, educators are responsible for the gender gap. They are the ones "pushing" the boys to play more mechanical and computer games, while the girls are urged to play with dolls and engage in social games. During adolescence, the self-image of girls weakens and they tend to shy away from the subjects of math, science and computers (Miller, Chaike & Groppe, 1996). Such data may affect education. Female teachers may choose to empower their male and female students and enhance their connection to the technological world. However, they can only do so when they themselves have a connection to this world and feel comfortable inside it.

This study examines the perceptions of female students of education toward information technology in general and their position within it and E-learning in particular. The hypothesis of this study is that such basic perceptions will influence their manner of teaching in the future and will have highly significant educational and social implications.

20 female students of education were interviewed during the course of the study. They were asked questions relating to their perceptions of the world of information technology, their position within it and their attitude toward it. Questions related to E-learning were also presented.

Analysis of their answers allows us to gain insights into women's lives in this day and age of high-technology and to infer initial, measured assumptions concerning the educational implications of these approaches.

Theoretical Background

Information Technology

In order to examine the relationship between human behavior and the Internet environment, we will first characterize the Internet according to its components and idiosyncrasies.

Researchers and scholars consider the Internet today to be the most far-reaching technological tool, in regards to its implications on our present-day society. Use of the Internet and its various features and it being a center for information and communication are related to social-emotional and educational processes. The Internet is referred to as "an ever-growing knowledge environment, with shortening time, extensive accessibility options, growing convenience of use and multiplying diversity. It is hailed as a symbol of acquiring knowledge and unprecedented communication. It is considered to be a tool enhancing man's ability to control his surroundings and liberating him from restrictions and influences in tracking, purchasing, accumulating, transferring and preserving information" (Shinar, 2001). …

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