Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communication Among Adolescents with Disabilities: A Case Study

Sheryl Burgstahler, Andrea Doyle


In this study researchers explored gender differences in computer-mediated communication between peers with disabilities and between these young people and adult mentors. Contents of 10,044 email messages of teens with disabilities within a mentoring community were analyzed. Participants were part of a nationally-recognized program to promote the participation of individuals with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Differences in the content of communications between male and female participants were found to be consistent with traditional gender roles. Males were more likely to both provide and seek information about the Internet and technology than females, yet females communicated more frequently overall, shared more personal information, and sent more messages with a "personal tone." Research findings can be used to guide programs in mediating electronic communities by attending to gender differences. They can also inform project activities designed to help young women claim roles in challenging fields where they are underrepresented.


Young people with disabilities; science; technology; engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields; gender differences; computer-mediated communication; mentoring; science-related careers for people with disabilities

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Copyright (c) 2005 Sheryl Burgstahler, Andrea Doyle

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