Women’s rejection of computing, far from being an irrational ‘computerphobia’, is a rational ‘computer reticence’.
(Sherry Turkle, 1988)
Turkle’s quote above underlines her assumptions that masculinization of computers occurs, not at the social level advocated in previous chapters, but at the cognitive level. The conclusions drawn from the last chapter imply that increased SE may affect the use of analytical strategies. Strategy selection has been argued to be a major determinant of successful human computer interaction (HCI). Unsuccessful HCI has obvious implications for both technophobia and the expectations of success discussed in the previous chapter. Cognitive style, then, is the focus of this chapter. In her book The Second Self (1984), Sherry Turkle argues that sex differences in technophobia are due to sex differences in strategy selection, with males inherently preferring more analytical strategies. As males tend to program computers, male analytic strategies are inherent within computing. Consequently, females have to conform to a different style of thought to their preferred style, which in turn is anxiety producing. This implicit ‘maleness’ is in addition to more explicit male-directed programming. Recreational and software programs, for example, reflect the gender biases and stereotypes of their designers, and studies reveal that educational software is generally designed to appeal to males—even when designers are aware of gender differences (Huff and Cooper, 1987). As discussed previously, far more computer games, specifically, are aimed at boys rather than girls (Chen, 1986; Wilder et al., 1985).