Cats who rule the mouse

7th April 2000 at 01:00
BOYS may now be the weaker sex as far as schoolwork is concerned but their traditional macho attitudes resurface when placed in front of a computer, writes Susannah Kirkman.

An Open University study has confirmed that it is boys who take control of the "mouse" if they are asked to work at a computer with a girl.

Researchers who gave a computer assignment to 48 13 and 14-year-olds found that girls working in mixed pairs said less, made fewer suggestions and made more supportive comments than girls in same-gender pairs. Conversely, the boys in mixed pairs said more, disagreed more and controlled the mouse ore than boys in same-gender pairs.

The boys' domineering behaviour was only confined to computer work, however. When a similar task was set using paper, there was no difference between the mixed and same-gender pairs.

These findings confirm earlier research which suggests that girls are at a disadvantage when working at a computer in mixed-gender groups.

"Gender, Pair Composition and Computer Paper Presentations of an English Language Task", by Teresa Keogh, Peter Barnes, Richard Joiner and Karen Littleton, The Open University, Milton Keynes. Educational Psychology, Vol. 20, No 1, 2000.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now