Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Gender HCI issues in end-user programming

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  • Until recently, research has not considered whether the design of end-user programming environments, such as spreadsheets, multimedia authoring languages, and CAD systems, affects males and females differently. As a result, we began investigating how the two genders are impacted by end-user programming software and whether attention to gender differences is important in the design of software. Evidence from other domains, such as psychology and marketing, strongly suggests that females process information and problem solve in very different ways than males. This implies that without taking these differences into account in the design of problem-solving software, the needs of half the population for whom the software is intended are potentially being ignored. In fact, some research has shown that software is unintentionally designed for males. Our research has uncovered several factors which affect males and females differently as they engage in end-user programming. The gender differences range from the effects of self-efficacy (a form of confidence) on engagement with environment features to how males and females use "tinkering" as part of their problem-solving strategy. We further investigate the effects of several environment changes on both males' and females' problem solving. This research is the first to both uncover what gender differences are relevant in end-user programming environments and address how to account for these gender differences in the design of such environments.
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