J.J. Escribano, Rosalia Peña and Javier Extremera
Considering the results of the survey which under examination in this paper, we can see that there is a relationship between the computer user’s gender and his/her appraisal of ethical issues.
For example, 28,3% of women say that they have been taught ethics on their profession, versus 21,1% of men. If we consider that men and women are together in the same faculties and classrooms, attending the same lectures, we can deduce that women follow these issues more closely.
Besides, if women and men consider that a reflection on ethical related to their professions is positive, (average mark is 6.5 out of 10), again women seem to be more aware (7.0/6.2).
Even in questions such as “Do technicians need to have a knowledge of legal aspects of their professions?”, where the answers are overwhelmingly positive, there are some differences between gender (98% – 93.4%).
This trend continues in answers to questions related to protection of the information and related subjects. Once more, women give priority to these issues, indicating that women are more demanding. The gap is bigger in legal aspects, and even more so in ethical ones.
Moreover, although they give more importance to the formation of an ethical awareness from childhood, women are more willing to mature their ethical ideas and value as positive the time devoted to learning these aspects.
A very significant aspect is the difference between the women who say they have thought about the effects of computers on society (68.1% ) and the men ( 36.3%). According to women’s opinion, the existence of computers in the family home seems to have less influence on their relationships with their parents (only 6.1% of the women surveyed say that these relationships would be different if there were no computers at home versus 17.1% of the men). This percentage increases if the study focuses on the influence of a TV set instead of a computer. However, it is again men who recognise a greater interference (48.8% – 35.2%).
Another aspect to be considered is to analyse the interest shown towards the use of computers in general and the use of the Internet in particular. On the one hand, it becomes clear that there is a considerable increase in the number of computers is the males’ homes (1.4 – 0.9 in the females’ homes). On the other hand, there are crucial differences pertaining to the amount of time they spent at the computer: Women spent almost an hour less than men. Besides, the distribution of this time depending on the activity: work, play and work-play, is quite enlightening. When it comes to work, the differences are quite small, whereas the differences between the two other activities are much broader. This leads us to think that men use the computer voluntarily more than women.
In order to establish a comparison between these figures and others related to the use of other technologies, we asked about the amount of TV sets owned by the people surveyed and the amount of time they spent watching. The differences which can be observed between the genders in this respect are much smaller.
As regards Internet, the differences are quite outstanding. 13% of men vs 1.9% of women use Internet. When asked whether they found it easy to access the system, 71.8% of men and 60% of women said it was easy. If we consider that the facilities to access the system are similar in both cases (men and women access the Internet from their own faculties), we can come to the conclusion that male students connect with the Internet more than women.
When we focus this study on those individuals whose work is more directly related to the use of computers and telecommunications, the differences regarding the number of computers at home and time spent working on them dissappear. However, the amount of time spent playing and connected to Internet remain the same. This fact seems to indicate that there is no relationship between pursuing technical studies and the differences shown between the genders.
In conclusion, given the importance that it is assuming in Society nowadays and their influence on the aspects shown in this paper, we postulate the need to take positive action in order to facilitate equality for both men and women; either by bringing women closer to Internet through changes in its content and interface, or by bringing them closer to the world of telecommunications.