Influence of Socioeconomic Status and Gender on High School Seniors' Use of Computers at Home and at School


  • Graham S. Lowe
  • Harvey Krahn
  • Mike Sosteric



This article critically assesses the proposition that computers have a democratizing effect in schools by increasing job-relevant skills among diverse groups of students. Drawing on arguments that schools are limited in their ability to counter long-standing patterns of inequality, we examine how gender and socioeconomic status interact to shape computer use patterns among high school seniors both at home and at school. Our data come from a large representative sample of grade 12 students in a western Canadian province. We find that social inequalities are being reproduced in the home through access to, and use of, home computers, with job-relevant uses higher among both female and male students from more advantaged backgrounds. Home environment conditions the effect of school use of computers because students from higher SES families—who have higher academic achievement and goals—are more likely to use computers at home but less likely to do so in school. This finding challenges claims that computers in schools can level differences in cultural capital that students acquire at home.