Sex Bias in Educational Software: The Effect of Designers' Stereotypes on the Software They Design

Charles Huff, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why is the computer more alluring to boys than it is to girls? One answer to this question is drawn from a social psychological model of human interaction. Social psychological research indicates that the expectations an individual has about another person can shape his or her interaction with that person. We hypothesized that, in a similar manner, the expectations software designers hold about the users of the software they design are central in determining the way the software they design interacts with the user. In order to test this notion, we had 43 educators with programming experience design software for either boys, girls, or students, and found that programs for girls were classifiable as “learning tools,” whereas programs for both boys and students were most like “games.” These differences occur as a function of the designers' expectations of the characteristics of potential users of the program and result in sex stereotyped software. We conclude that it is not the computer, or even the software, that is at the root of the sex bias in software, but the expectations and stereotypes of the designers of the software.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-532
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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