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Keywords:

  • computers;
  • digital divide;
  • gender;
  • stereotype threat

Abstract This paper examines the evidence for the digital divide based on gender. An overview of research published in the last 20 years draws to the conclusion that females are at a disadvantage relative to men when learning about computers or learning other material with the aid of computer-assisted software. The evidence shows that the digital divide affects people of all ages and across international boundaries. We suggest that the digital divide is fundamentally a problem of computer anxiety whose roots are deep in socialization patterns of boys and girls and that interact with the stereotype of computers as toys for boys. A model of the digital divide is presented that examines gender stereotypes, attribution patterns, and stereotype threat as antecedents of computer anxiety. Computer anxiety in turn leads to differences in computer attitudes and computer performance. A number of suggestions are offered to reduce the impact of the digital divide.