Gender Differences in Preferences and Proclivities for ICT Tools and Online Services

Gender Differences in Preferences and Proclivities for ICT Tools and Online Services

Winfred Yaokumah (Pentecost University College, Ghana), Fred Totimeh (Pentecost University College, Ghana) and Peace Kumah (Ghana Education Service, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7068-4.ch005


Gender essentialism is often used to excuse gender-based biases in the use of ICT tools and online services encouraging gender inequalities in opportunities for both males and females. This chapter aims at exploring ICT tools and online services currently being used by university students. The chapter investigates gender differences in preferences and proclivities for ICT tools and online services. Data collected from 618 university students were analyzed. The results show that males significantly differ in the use and preferences of ICT tools and devices (smart phones and tablets) from females. Conversely, females significantly differ in the use and preferences for online services (WhatsApp, text messaging, and library search engines) from males. The study also finds that smartphone and laptop computers are the most frequently used ICT tools and WhatsApp and Facebook are the most preferred online services. Gender studies in ICT to understand gender differences and proclivities are importance for policy direction towards an effort to bridge the gender gap.
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There has been a rapid advancement in information technology platforms, tools, devices and services. Currently, the use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools and services spans almost every area of life. For example, ICT tools and services are used in modern technical and medical devices (Mridha, 2016), in education and for dissemination of scientific knowledge (Hinojosa & Guzman, 2015), for collaborative learning (Rodríguez, 2017), and in bringing communities together for peace building (Vrasidas, Zembylas, Evagorou, Avraamidou, & Aravi, 2007). Information and communications technologies are deployed via different technologies and platforms. For instance, cloud computing enables the deployment of several social media and online services. Also, big data technologies and analytics allow users to obtain salient information of increasing volumes from historical data. The eminence of Internet-of-Things that allow objects to be identified uniquely and the upsurge of mobile computing devices have led to massive deployment of social media platform services. Currently, people tend to use their personal mobile devices at the workplace (Bring-Your-Own-Device or BYOD) and for accessing online social network services.

The use of social network tools and enterprise social networks facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support business processes to deliver a better experience in communication with the stakeholders (European Commission, 2014). A recent study estimates that in the near future ICT jobs will concentrate on online social media services (Fuciua & Gorski, 2013). Moreover, several organizations will employ teleworks - employees working from home (European Commission, 2014). Thus, the world looks forward to witness increasingly massive technological advancements in the near future. Despite the availability and accessibility of these services, Ilomaki (2011) speculates that there exists a gap between genders and generations in technical ICT competencies. Mendonça, Crespo, and Simões (2015) find that there is a prevalence of inequalities in ICT usage. However, for economic development of a nation, both men and women should be involved in the developments that come with ICT. There are different degrees of social exclusion within different societies, regions and cultures of the world with regards to gender. The term gender refers to the different roles men and women play in a society, which are determined by cultural, social and economic factors and differ within and between cultures and countries (Moghaddam, 2009).

There are gender preferences and likings of ICT technologies and services. The nature of gender gaps may differ based on ICT tools, devices, platforms and online social media services being used. Essentially, there are significant differences between genders. For instance, females show more concern than males, develop people-skills, and are more conversant with the people side of ICT (Koppi, Sheard, Naghdy, Edwards, & Brookes, 2010). Accordingly, gender gaps in using different ICT tools and online services may exist. The question as to the role of gender towards embracing, preferring, and liking of ICT tools, platforms, devices, and services is yet to be fully ascertained. Debate is still on-going with respect to gender differences in the use of technology with differing findings. Wiseman et al. (2018) find that female teachers use technology in the classroom more frequently than that of males. On the other hand, in a related study that examines the role of gender in ICT usage, Ilomaki (2011) reports that male teachers are more competent in ICT use than the female teachers. Critical to the increasing developments in technology platforms, tools, and online services is the degree of preferences and likings people attach to them. Of great importance are the gender preferences and proclivities towards the current technology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Services: Any information and services provided over the Internet, intranet and extranet.

ICT Tools and Devices: Diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information. This includes laptop computers, smartphone, e-book readers, and desktop computers.

Social media: A platform, most often a website and application, that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Gender Gap: Is a disproportionate difference or disparity between the males and females.

Information and Communications Technologies: Any communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, chats, and videoconferencing.

Gender Essentialism: A theory that posits that men and women have certain attributes that are fixed. These characteristics universally uniquely identify men and women.

Preference: A greater liking for one thing over others.

Proclivity: An inclination, tendency to choose or do something regularly, a pre-disposition towards using and preferring a particular thing.

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