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Examples: Insuring Equal Access

At the Hawthorne Elementary School classes participating in the CSILE project, each child was scheduled for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at the computer.

At the Ralph Bunche Computer Mini-School, each student had a scheduled 2 hours a week in the computer lab (with his or her regular class) with the opportunity to come in before or after school, during lunch, or at other times with their teacher's permission. About half of the students took advantage of this opportunity for additional time working with computers, and there were no apparent differences in the participation rates of boys and girls.

Although there were very few high-SES students in the school, precluding observations regarding differential participation rates by SES, it is difficult to imagine a more eager group of technology users than these Harlem students.

Use by Girls vs. Boys

Our observation of roughly equal participation of girls and boys at most of our case study sites stands in contrast to the lower participation rate for girls in many classes observed by others (Mark, 1992).

Our observations suggest that when technology becomes thoroughly integrated into a school, such that there are many different technology uses and many technology-using models available, girls will find technology-based activities as motivating as boys do. They may select somewhat different technology activities (a lower interest in computer games and a higher interest in composing at the computer was cited by some informants), but their overall level of use will be comparable.

When technology is a part of all kinds of subjects and of every class, when it is used in social studies and fine arts and not just in a specific computer class or a special math class, students are going to see a good many female technology-using models, and this is likely to have an impact.

One of my bugaboos has been that computers have been sexually biased, more of a male thing. I think because I'm a female and I'm the one that is being a presenter and I'm the one that knows [about technology] that [the gender stereotype] does not exist in my class. I think that it breaks out even. The boys do not take over because the girls can do just as much. - Open Charter School teacher

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