Psychological gender issues in computing

Mark Brosnan, M Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (SciVal)


This paper builds on the implication from Rosen et al.'s (1987) work that the variation in findings with respect to gender differences in attitudes towards computers and anxiety caused by computers (i.e. ‘computerphobia’), may be due in part to differences of psychological gender (regardless of biological gender) within subjects. Sandra Bem's (1974, 1981) theory of psychological gender is incorporated into the research, identifying subjects as ‘sex typed’ or ‘androgynous’. A student population of under/post graduates (N=282; 50.7% of which were male and 49.3% were female) is presented with the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), a computer anxiety questionnaire (Heinssen et al. 1987) and a computer attitude questionnaire (Dambrot et al. 1985). The latter questionnaire has positive and negative subscales. The results indicate that masculinity correlates with positive attitudes towards computers for both sexes. In addition masculinity was correlated with less anxiety and less negative attitudes towards computers for females, lending support to a sex by gender interaction (i.e. that masculinity has a different effect on each sex). Femininity correlated negatively with programming experience in females. This is discussed in relation to computing being seen as a ‘male activity’, and the subsequent educational and organizational implications identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-25
Number of pages13
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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