A Safer Place for Women: Online Education

A Safer Place for Women: Online Education

Judith E. Larkin, Harvey A. Pines
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3583-7.ch007
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A feature of online study not widely recognized is that apart from its convenience, which eases the burdens of managing family and work demands, the online educational environment offers control over privacy and visibility. To convey how women, in particular, place importance on having control over privacy, this chapter describes studies the authors have conducted to investigate gender differences in reactions to situations where public performance vs. privacy is involved. While recognizing the success of online courses in meeting privacy needs, attention is also drawn to the challenge that online instructors face to prepare students with skills in public presentation important for success beyond the classroom.
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The vast majority of research into gender differences in risk perception and risk-taking was conducted twenty to thirty years ago. These empirical studies have demonstrated that men and women differ in their perceptions of risk, and that women are more risk averse than men in such widely varied domains as financial investments, health and technology, public policy, and the environment (e.g., Boholm, 1998; Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999; Flynn, Slovic, & Mertz, 1994; Gustafson, 1998; Slovic, 1992). Yet, despite the consistency of these findings, even in recent years there has been little systematic research to discover the basis for these gender differences. For the most part, psychologists investigating how people estimate risk have generally devoted little attention to the social and psychological factors that might explain the gender differences. In the few instances where researchers have attempted to examine “social risk,” the subscales they created failed to reveal gender differences (Harris, Jenkins, & Glaser, 2006; Weber, Blais, & Betz, 2002).

Typically risk assessment research has focused on risks whose existence is real but whose emotional impact as a threat in people’s everyday lives is minimal. Even psychological researchers have traditionally tended to examine risk in an impersonal way, relying on cognitive tasks such as choice dilemmas (Kogan & Wallach, 1964) or framing tasks (Tversky & Kahneman, 1981) that embody uncertainty but lack the emotional realism of everyday personal risks that people face, for example, the likelihood of being dressed inappropriately upon meeting someone important, failing an exam you thought you did well on, being unable to answer a question in front of an audience, or saying something stupid (cf. Miller, 1996). Risks such as these in everyday situations are pervasive, personally and psychologically real, and often associated with feelings of shame or embarrassment. Through the discussion of research on the risks inherent in a public as compared to a private performance, the authors will shed light on the benefits and challenges inherent in the online experience.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Graduate Record Exam (GRE): A standardized test of verbal and mathematical ability required by many graduate schools for admission.

Stereotype Threat: Concern that you will confirm other people’s negative views about the ability of your group, which may affect your performance accordingly.

Privacy: A condition where one’s identity is concealed from others.

Role Playing: A training technique in which a participant takes the position of another person and acts out what that person would say or do.

Synchronous Class: An online class that requires that both the students and the instructor are online at the same time.

Risk: A feeling of dread that one will not be able to control an adverse outcome.

Public Performance: A presentation of oneself to others that reveals one’s level of intellectual ability.

Shame: The painful feeling of being devalued in the eyes of others and perceived as intellectually inferior or inadequate.

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