At a time when the nation is fighting against insecurity and discrimination of women, a major research project to investigate if there is any gender bias in access to technology among the undergraduate students has been taken up in Madurai.

The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi, has sanctioned Rs.5.35 lakh as grant-in-aid to S. Thiagarajan, Associate Professor and Head of Department of Economics, Sourashtra College, here to take up the study among UG students in colleges affiliated to the Madurai Kamaraj University.

This study will examine the extent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills among college students in Madurai district and find whether there is gender gap.

Also, a comparative study will be done between SC,ST and non-SC,ST students.

“Through this study, we can find out the problems encountered by girl students in accessing technology. The extent of discrimination against female students at home and in colleges with specific focus on IT will be studied,” Dr. Thiagarajan told The Hindu on Saturday.

The study will be conducted in Madurai district among the college students from varied socio-economic status.

As per the proposal submitted to ICSSR, the research study will draw a sample of totally 480 students with girls and boys in equal number.

Explaining about the importance of his project, Dr. Thiagarajan said that so far research has scarcely been undertaken to study about computer literacy in the context of gender bias at higher education level.

“Madurai is one among the districts where a majority of college girls come from rural background. Social and cultural restrictions are dominant here and moreover ‘technophobia’ seems to be a major problem,” he added.

The study will cover women’s colleges, men’s colleges and also co-education institutions.

Also, family characteristics would be analysed so as to know about the education level of parents and their background.

“The central idea of my project is to identify gender gap in attitude, knowledge and use of ICT in learning and suggest measures to bridge the gap,” he said.

Once the research study is completed in the next few months, the findings on use of computers among boys and girls of colleges in Madurai district will be submitted to ICSSR and the University Grants Commission, Dr. Thiagarajan informed.