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Gender differences in website production and preference aesthetics: preliminary implications for ICT in education and beyond

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The purpose of this study was to examine the implications of a gendered website production and preference aesthetic for the teaching of computer studies. Thirty male and thirty female personal websites produced by students at a UK university were rated against 23 factors. The home pages of sites that were deemed to be typical of their gender were then used in preference tests conducted amongst 67 students. Statistically significant differences emerged on 13 of the 23 factors against which the 60 websites were rated. These results were suggestive of a website aesthetic continuum with male and female production aesthetic tendencies at either end. The preference tests revealed a tendency for preferences to be in tune with production aesthetics such that men had a statistically significant tendency to prefer home pages produced by men, and women to prefer home pages produced by women. The tendency for the latter was even higher than the male tendency to prefer male-produced sites. The finding of gendered differences in website production and preference aesthetics has important implications for teaching and assessment. Teachers selecting or assessing websites, whether commercial or produced by pupils and students, need be mindful of the aesthetics employed in those websites. When selecting websites for educational purposes, a match should ideally be made between the website and the likely preferences of the end-user. Assessment of students' work should ideally be mindful of the potential for positive bias on the part of the assessor in the direction of work displaying their own favoured aesthetic.

Keywords: Internet; design; gender; preferences; websites

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01449290802332662

Affiliations: 1: Bucks New University, High Wycombe, UK,Ecole Superieure de Gestion (ESG), Paris, France 2: Business School, Glamorgan University, Pontypridd, Wales, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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