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Women and computers. Effects of stereotype threat on attribution of failure

Authors
Journal
Computers & Education
0360-1315
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
51
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.05.007
Keywords
  • Stereotype Threat
  • Gender
  • Attribution Of Failure
  • Computer Domain
  • College-Age Students

Abstract

Abstract This study investigated whether stereotype threat can influence women’s attributions of failure in a computer task. Male and female college-age students ( n = 86, 16–21 years old) from Germany were asked to work on a computer task and were hinted beforehand that in this task, either (a) men usually perform better than women do (negative threat condition), or (b) women usually perform better than men do (positive condition), or (c) they received no threat or gender-related information (control group). The final part of the task was prepared to provide an experience of failure: due to a faulty USB-memory stick, completion of the task was not possible. Results suggest a stereotype threat effect on women’s attribution of failure: in the negative threat condition, women attributed the failure more internally (to their own inability), and men more externally (to the faulty technical equipment). In the positive and control conditions, no significant gender differences in attribution emerged.

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