Gender and Computer-Mediated Communication: A Meta-Analysis

A Project Funded by the Starter Grant, URGC, University of Calgary

Principal Investigator: Dr. Qing Li


Previous research in computer-mediated communication (CMC) is varied in its conclusions. Some research suggests that CMC is a “great equalizer” (Charney, 1994, p. 747) and others argue that CMC provides the possibility of constructing new gendered identities (Yates, 1997, p. 289). The unclear nature of the gender difference in the use of and learning with CMC calls “for a systematic integration of the literature both for theory development and for pedagogical guidance (Lou, 2001, p. 451). To date, no meta-analysis of these issues exists. In addition, the effects of educational use of CMC in promoting gender equity needs to be assessed in light of the total available literature, and this has not so far been attempted.

Objectives of Project

In view of the unknown nature of gender differences, particularly in terms of males’ and females’ approaches of using CMC and their different preferences for the kinds of activities they pursue with CMC (Roberts, 2002, xiv), it is important to attain a comprehensive theoretical grasp of these relationships, based on the total empirical evidence. Hence, there is a need for a thorough quantitative integration of the literature in this area.

The questions that this research addresses are:
1) To what extent does gender relate to the contexts in a CMC environment? For example, are gender differences similar across different SES groups?
2) To what extent does gender relate to the outcomes in a CMC environment? For example, are there gender differences in people’s attitudes and behaviors in relation to CMC? If yes, to what extent?
3) To what extent does gender relate to the application of CMC (e.g. email, videoconferencing, news groups)?
4) What are optimal conditions for use of CMC to promote gender equity? For example, how to use it and what type of CMC technologies enhance gender equity?
5) To what extent do design variables (including instructional and online environmental), such as collaborative leaning account for effective use of CMC?



Campbell project

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