Gender and Help Seeking by Older Adults When Learning New Technologies

Rachel Franz, Leah Findlater, Barbara Neves, Jacob Wobbrock

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A gender stereotype that has some basis in research is that men are more reluctant to ask for directions than women. We wanted to investigate whether this stereotype applies to technology-related contexts, affecting older adults' abilities to learn new technologies. To explore how help seeking and gender might relate for older adults, we conducted a controlled experiment with 36 individuals, of whom 18 identified as men and 18 identified as women, and observed how often they asked for help when learning new applications. We also conducted post-experiment interviews with participants. We found that although most participants stereotyped older men as being reluctant to ask for help in the interview, the gender difference was minimal in the experiment. Instead, individual differences had a greater effect: older participants took longer to complete tasks and participants with lower technology self-efficacy asked significantly more questions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASSETS '19 The 21st International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2018
EventACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility 2019 - Pittsburgh, United States of America
Duration: 28 Oct 201930 Oct 2019
Conference number: 21st


ConferenceACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility 2019
Abbreviated titleASSETS 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
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