Drexel University Study Examines the Role Parents Play in Their Daughters’ Engagement in Technology

As part of Computer Science Education Week, the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University partnered with TechGirlz, a nonprofit that fosters technology appreciation among middle school girls, to conduct a survey of its participants and their parents. This collaboration marks the first time a survey has matched responses from girls and their parents in order to gain a deeper understanding of the role parents play in their daughters’ engagement in technology.

The survey found that parents’ affinity for technology only marginally impacts girls’ excitement about involvement in technology. Of families where parents had a low affinity with technology, 86 percent of daughters expressed excitement about the subject and of families where parents had a high affinity with technology, 88 percent of girls expressed interest in the subject. Additionally, the survey found that girls from Black and Hispanic backgrounds had the highest degree of encouragement from their families for technology learning.

Daughters and parents who responded to the survey had widely varying reasons for interest in technology. The survey found that girls felt slightly more supported by their fathers (94 percent) than their mothers (85 percent) regarding their interest in technology. Additionally, 47 percent of girls reported that friendships drove their interest in technology compared to only 10 percent citing career potential as the cause for their excitement about the field. While the survey did find that girls from all backgrounds are generally more interested in technology than previously thought, it also showed that their interest declines over time. Out of all of the sixth grade girls surveyed, 100 percent expressed an interest in technology compared to 88 percent of eighth graders.

“Most of the information available about relationships among parents, children and STEM is based on anecdotal evidence,” said Dr. Murugan Anandarajan, a professor of management information systems at Drexel University. “Using past research models, we designed one of the first empirical studies to bring validity to this important topic. The results represent an initial step toward understanding how girls’ perceptions of technology can be influenced and shaped within their home environments. Our findings begin a powerful conversation for parents, showing that, regardless of their relationship with technology, they can develop strategies to promote and encourage girls’ technology interests at a young age.”

Filed Under: Research/Study


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