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At a quick count it seems there are about twice as many men registered on this site as women. And in real terms, far more regular male posters. Is this because men are more IT-centric or because the discussions do not interest women? The Kennedy pages are interesting but almost entirely male posters. What do women want to discuss? I'd be interested to know.

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At a quick count it seems there are about twice as many men registered on this site as women. And in real terms, far more regular male posters. Is this because men are more IT-centric or because the discussions do not interest women? The Kennedy pages are interesting but almost entirely male posters. What do women want to discuss? I'd be interested to know.

This is a very good question. The International Education Forum was originally set up by members of the Association of Teacher Websites. The vast majority of our members were men. The reason for this is that the majority of teachers who own their own websites are men. To understand why that is we need to understand the impact that gender has on the use of technology (maybe this would be better debated on another thread).

The above information is only relevant to the first few weeks of the forum. We now have nearly 600 members. I do not know the gender breakdown of membership. However, you are probably right to suggest that the majority of posters are men. This is fairly surprising when one considers that the majority of the world’s educators are women. It has also been said that women like to talk (and posting is a kind of online talk) and have a stronger need than men to express themselves in words.

The best way to find out why more male members (no pun intended) post more than women is to ask them. I will start the ball rolling by saying why I post messages on the forum. I do it for two main reasons: (1) I have a strong desire to educate. Therefore a large percentage of my postings involve an attempt to communicate what I believe is important information. (2) I have a strong desire to be educated. Therefore some of my postings are an attempt to create a dialogue with people who have different experiences and beliefs than I have (I think it is particularly educational to enter into a debate with people living in other countries).

It will of course be argued that women have just as strong a desire to educate and to be educated as men. That is of course true, but maybe women find this way of doing it more stressful than other methods. For example, I am aware that most (all) people find forum debates a painful experience. It is fairly easy for an intelligent person to find flaws in your arguments. This is particularly painful on a forum where you have the means to directly quote what other people have said. Maybe men are less sensitive than women and are more willing to have their opinions analysed in this way. I think this view is supported by an analysis of the kind of postings women are much more likely to make. I suspect there is a tendency for women to make non-controversial postings. It is noticeable that women rarely get involved in the political debates. This also explains why so far few women have joined the debates on the Kennedy Assassination. For this is a subject where people hold very strong opinions and are likely to get very aggressive in their arguments.

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Perhaps the lack of women on this forum (and others) has more to do with the general different ways men and women communicate.

Most men use language to communicate factual information (hence the interminable talk about football and John's dreadful "lists" ;) ), whereas most women use language, (especially talk), to network and relate. Compare the different ways a man and a woman might use a phone and you will get my drift.

This perhaps makes them as well as far superior beings to us, less likely to use a means of communication like a forum where there is very little or no emotional, visual or physical feedback. :D

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Thanks, JP - good point!!

Thank for your reply, John I 've just realised that I posted my original message on the wrong thread. Is it possible for you to move it to the educational debates which is where I meant it to be? Probably a good example of women lacking IT skills.

I think you're right in all regards. I belong to another forum where it is always the women who get most upset about disagreements - some of us do tend to take those things more seriously than men. Women rely a lot on vocal tone, body language etc to get their meaning over and get hurt more easily if they are misunderstood, I think.

However, I would still love to hear from more of the women who are registered on this site.

As Freud so famously said, "What DO women want?"

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Most men use language to communicate factual information (hence the interminable talk about football and John's dreadful "lists" ;) ), whereas most women use language, (especially talk), to network and relate. Compare  the different ways a man and a woman might use a phone and you will get my drift.

You are right to suggest that women tend to use the phone differently to men (although friends on the forum will know that there is nothing I like better than a long chat on the phone). However, I think you are wrong to suggest that the difference is based on the idea that men are more concerned with communicating factual information. Listening to women on the phone soon reveals that a lot of factual information is being expressed. The difference mainly concerns the subject matter of this expression of factual material (cynics might argue that most of the content is speculation rather than factual). Maybe the difference is that women have a stronger desire to talk about people they know rather than people they don’t. As a result, a phone call rather than a online forum is a better place to communicate this information.

Perhaps it also has to do with who is posting and what is being posted!  ;)  :D

I am not quite sure of the point you are making (maybe you would be good enough to expand on this idea).

I assume you mean that women do not like the topics that men start. If that is the case, why don’t they start topics that they do like?

You also say that “perhaps it also has to do with who is posting”. Are you talking about the individual rather than the gender? Are you suggesting that certain types of men will stop women from replying?

There are of course some women on the forum who are willing to engage in debate with men. Ulrike, Rowena, Pauline and Christine all fall into this category. Maybe we should ask them if they find it difficult to discuss controversial issues on the forum.

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I think this is a very interesting topic to debate, since I think it goes to the heart of IT in education, amongst many other things!

I do a lot of IT-based distance education in Sweden, where the profile of the 'average' distance student is a woman, aged 34 with 2 children, a steady job, and a stable relationship. Course discussion fora are typically almost unused, and the most successful web site designs are the least flashy and technological.

My strategy for designing interaction into distance courses is to set up lots of activities which involve people meeting in small groups outside of 'teacher-led' meetings, where the small groups have both group-related tasks to complete and class-related tasks. The latter involve the creation of an informal network between groups with reporting back at video conferences. It's very important for me as the teacher to make sure that there is always follow-up from anything reported back this way.

This strategy has worked very well indeed, to the extent that the groups continue meeting even after the course has ended. There's a very successful book discussion club in one of the towns in southern Sweden which started on one of our courses.

I'm not exactly sure *why* it's worked though! And I'm not exactly sure why text-based fora don't work. I suspect that the mode of discussion has a lot to do with it. Most of the women on our courses have no interest in making a splash in the larger group - they're studying part-time anyway, and they've got far more important things to do in their lives. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they don't tend to like discussing things with strangers, but they do enjoy discussions with people they know.

There must have been some research done into this - anyone know of any?

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I have followed the development of the Education Forum since it was first set up and check the 'today's active topics' most days. I have not posted in many of these topics for several reasons:

i) The majority of the topics are outside my areas of expertise so, as was mentioned, I suppose am 'being educated'. :D

ii) Many of the topics are of little interest to me and go on for sooooo long. Sorry guys, but I just get bored with reading them!

iii) To give meaningful replies to long posts takes too long and I have too many other demands on my time and too many other interests to spend it all sitting at my computer to do just that.

Much more interest from women might be generated if posts were shorter, sharper and to the point - more like having a converstation rather than being lectured to!

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And perhaps it's also a generational thing. Last year I was at an all girls' high school and I had trouble getting them off the chatlines and email. They were all very much into the email shorthand which, I think, a lot of older women find difficult to accept.

And when you think about text messaging, young women are into it as much if not more than men.

For myself, I am more interested in the philosophy of education and in comparative curriculum and methodology than in political and historical debate. That may also be because I currently am not teaching, and when I was, it wasn't those subjects. I guess that reflects the more personal and human elements of education that women find more interesting to discuss.

As part of my new job as President of our state teachers' union, I have been asked to give a talk to a newly formed Fabian Society here in a few weeks, the subject being the value of Public Education. How about that for a topic to start with?

It will certainly be useful to my preparation, anyway!!

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The beauty of this forum of course is that any member can start any topic they wish too "short, sharp, conversational" or otherwise. Any topic at all related to education is fine.

I would like to encourage all members to post more (especially in the Curriculum areas which have failed to take off yet).

I wonder if Maggie's comment about being "lectured" too corroborates to my earlier remarks;

This perhaps makes women less likely to use a means of communication like a forum where there is very little or no emotional, visual or physical feedback.

as I am sure no one is motivated here by the desire to "lecture" others.

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Perhaps it also has to do with who is posting and what is being posted!  :D  :lol:

I am not quite sure of the point you are making (maybe you would be good enough to expand on this idea).

I assume you mean that women do not like the topics that men start. If that is the case, why don’t they start topics that they do like?

You also say that “perhaps it also has to do with who is posting”. Are you talking about the individual rather than the gender? Are you suggesting that certain types of men will stop women from replying?

I mean that people will post if they feel comfortable to post and feel they have something to add. There are lots of posts on this forum from experts in their field and thus there may not be much to add.

You have had other important replies too - and on a positive note - from women.

I think it is important to focus on the individual rather than the gender differences too though. I think you just have to create a situation where everyone is comfortable to post their ideas and views and then willing to defend them when challenged. Individuals like different things - some like shorter, more conversational posts whereas others love the in depth argument and analysis.

Rather than debating the issues, it's worth simply getting on with it though. :D You could always start 'fake' memberships to get a few posts going I suppose! :D Angelia Walker? Joan Simkin? I guess that's probably not the best way [for countless reasons].

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I have been asked to give a talk to a newly formed Fabian Society here in a few weeks, the subject being the value of Public Education. How about that for a topic to start with?

It will certainly be useful to my preparation, anyway!!

Dear Jay,

When ready please tell...The French system can be useful for your preparation :lol: I could ask to several people to debate about the value of Public Education...

Jean Philippe

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Its the quality of what people have to contribute that matters not gender.

There are gender differences in the way technology is studies and employed. I have taught in co-ed, all boys and currently in an all girls school. Girls do have different learning styles to boys. Great! It makes the world of teaching so much more interesting and challenging. Girls particularly have to see the relevance to them in the technology to really become enthused about it - hence the popularity of chat lines.

There is an issue with falling female numbers in the ICT professions. In Australia there is a participation rate of 27% for females. With the way the industry is performing at the moment maybe the females are the smart ones for getting out!

Back in 2002 I helped arrange the Keynote Speaker for the "Alliance of Girl's Schools" Conference. Here is the link to Gary Stager's paper:

http://www.stager.org/articles/girlsandtechnology.html

I think you will find it quite provocative. It takes you to Gary's own site where you will find a huge amount of learning technology related material on many topics. So if you have not heard of Gary Stager .............its time you did. Plus it has a lot of really cool curriculum ideas for Micro Worlds software - all our girls have this programme on their notebook computers and they love it!

In the interests of brevity and to show that I do take on board what females post on this topic I shall now shut-up.

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I have taught modern languages throughout my career. As a male member of staff, I have always been in the minority in modern languages departments. Most teachers of modern languages are female and most students in further and higher education are female - around 70%-80%, I would guess.

Teachers of modern languages in the UK are heavy users of ICT, so there must be a large number of potential contributors out there.

I have two daughters, both of whom run businesses relating to ICT. One studied art in higher education and runs a graphic design business. The other studied modern foreign languages in higher education and runs an educational software development and retailing business.

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