Tag Archives: gender

Sex differences in attitudes towards online privacy and anonymity among Israeli students with different technical backgrounds

Reviewed By: Sarah Potter, Esther Kim, Erin Oakden, Mariah Ramsour, Keshia Nash-Johnson

Link to article: http://informationr.net/ir/22-4/paper777.html

1. Article Synopsis
This article investigates the differences in online anonymity and privacy behavior between men and women among Israeli students with varying technical backgrounds. The purpose is to comparatively model men and women’s online privacy attitudes, and to assess the online privacy gender gap. To understand the inter-influence of different factors, assessment of men and women’s awareness of two types of threats against their online anonymity and privacy level are addressed: the technological threat such as technology that enables surveillances, detection of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web and the social threat such as exposure of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web.

The study also examines the male and female differences regarding protection of personal information on the Web, especially on social networks as well as lack of online privacy self-efficacy. Each user was measured on their familiarity level and actual usage of anonymity tools available on the Web. The study conducted considered both online privacy literacy tools and privacy literacy skills used by social users.

Male and female differences in user tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior was also examined. For example, if a user preferred to utilize the malleability of the Internet at the expense of information security, despite concern for their online privacy.

The literature review examines the digital gap between the sexes. For example, sex differences in computer and Internet literacy, self-efficacy, and online seeking behavior, as well as previous studies related to online privacy, anonymity, and self-disclosure. The subsequent literature conclusively notes a disparity, a term some call the knowledge gap hypothesis, where behavior and attitudes do not coincide.

This study is helpful in determining a comprehensive framework for research pertaining to sex differences across a variety of factors related to privacy behavior and online anonymity. It is also the first study to investigate these issues among Israeli students who are from different academic backgrounds. The research found has important implications in regards to Internet education and reducing the digital divide among the sexes. The social and technological dimensions explored in the study also give insight into the wider contexts of cyber security, protection of personal data, and online information literacy—all of which are important topics that can relate to the international experience.

2. Core Research Questions
This study addressed five research questions relating to gender, technological safety, and privacy:
1. Are there differences in men’s and women’s awareness of technological and social anonymity threats on the Web?
2. Are there differences in men’s and women’s concern for the protection of personal information on social and non-social Websites?
3. Are there differences in men’s and women’s online privacy self-efficacy and technological and social online privacy literacy?
4. Are there differences in men’s and women’s tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?
5. Does higher technological online privacy literacy decrease users’ tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?

3. Methods
To answer the research questions, this study conducted a questionnaire with 169 Israeli college students from two colleges, Bar-Ilan University and Jerusalem College of Technology, and three departments: accounting and business management studies, information science studies, and computer science and engineering. Seventy-one men and ninety-eight women answered a forty-question survey on online privacy. The survey was broken down into six sections asking questions relating to: participant demographics, awareness of threats to technological and social anonymity, concerns for safeguarding personal information online, effectiveness of ability to protect online privacy, knowledge on technological and social online privacy, and tendencies to engage in “privacy paradox behavior.”

4. Findings and Conclusions
A comparative model was used to summarize users’ attitudes towards online anonymity and privacy and it was found that women have more social awareness online, while men have more technical awareness. Despite the closing of this gap in technological knowledge, men still have an advantage over women in relation to technology, as they have an awareness of the technological threat that resides online and have a higher online privacy literacy level.
There were four aspects of online privacy and anonymity that were analyzed:
1. Sex differences with regard to the general awareness of limited anonymity on the Web using several measures of technological and social threat awareness
2. Sex differences with regard to the level of concern for protecting personal information on both general and social networks
3. Sex differences in users’ levels of online privacy self-efficacy and online privacy literacy (technical and social)
4. Sex differences with regard to privacy paradox behavior

Women’s ability to effectively manage their online privacy in the digital age is integral to their ability to protect private information such as health information, educational information, financial information, political views, and consumption patterns. Further research is needed that generalizes the proposed methodology in this study and uses a more diverse subject group (age, education level, occupation types, cultural backgrounds, and countries of origin). The authors also suggested that further steps be taken in the future such as implementing policy intervention and educational programs on online privacy, anonymity awareness, and digital literacy so that we can eventually eliminate the inter-sex technological gap.

5. Informing American Library Program Design from Global Practices
The literature, relative research, and results of this study indicate a need for educational programming on digital literacy with an emphasis on security and privacy. The study established that the participants had varying levels of concern about what is being disclosed through their online activity. Although the focus group of this study consisted of Israeli male and female students, it is likely that these concerns are not limited to this population. Therefore, American libraries should not only provide secured online access, but libraries should also provide education about what that means. All internet users should feel confident in their knowledge of what information is at risk and how to protect themselves from inadvertent disclosures of personal information. This program could be very successful at both public and academic libraries, but could be appropriate for all environments that emphasize the importance of information literacy.

Demographic Variables and Academic Discipline as Determinants of Undergraduates’ Use of Electronic Library Resources in Federal universities in South-west, Nigeria

Reviewed By: Amy Budzicz, Joanna Delgado, Keith Chong

Link to article: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164/


Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s study seeks to build on existing research that suggests that electronic library resources are underutilized in Universities throughout Nigeria. While previous research suggests that the low usage of electronic resources is caused by a number of factors including a deficit in technology literacy, and user attitudes, this study examines other potential factors more closely, using opt-in descriptive survey research to look for discrepancies in electronic resource utilization based on the factors of age, gender, and academic discipline. The study claims that age is the most prominent determinant of electronic resource usage, though it notes that the vast majority of respondents were between the ages of seventeen through twenty five years of age with a mere 1.7% of respondents being twenty nine or older. The results are compared in the study’s literature review to the findings of similar research written by information scientists in the United States, Malasia, Chile, and various other countries and for the most part seem to corroborate the existing findings; that age, rather than gender or academic discipline, is the demographic that can be used to predict electronic resource usage most consistently.

Core research questions

The research questions of Ebijuwa and Mabawonku’s 2019 study examine whether the usage demographic usage statistics of electronic library resources correlate to variables such as age, gender, or academic field of study of undergraduate students in federal universities in South West Nigeria. It questions existing studies and research, that focus on why universities report low usage of electronic library resources (including wealth disparity, low levels of technology literacy, and over all user attitudes), and asks whether there are other factors that contribute to this lack of technology adoption.

Methods used

This study surveyed six federal universities in Southwest Nigeria, comprised 140,351 undergraduate students. To narrow the survey pool, the study broke down the number of responders by looking at specific academic areas, and specific departments within those areas. Observing that academic disciplines were common among the six schools, the study was able to categorize academic discipline into 12 departments from 4 subject areas. These were Arts: English, History, Philosophy; Engineering: Electrical and Electronics engineering, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering; Science: Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics; and Social Science/Humanities: Economics, Sociology, and Psychology. The study comprised of an opt-in survey which resulted in 30,516 respondents. Only 5% of respondent submissions were used in order to narrow the study further, leaving a sample size of 1,526 students. Each of the 1,526 students received a questionnaire asking questions of discipline, age, gender, and types and reasons for using Electronic Library Resources.

Findings and Conclusions

According to Ebijuwa and Mabawonku, age is the only factor that played a consistent role in the findings on whether or not age, gender, and academic discipline affects undergraduates use of electronic library resources. For example, patrons using the library were mostly between the ages of 20-22 years old using electronic library resources for class assignments, projects, scholarship opportunities, research, online applications, and personal use such as, news and email, etc. Gender and academic discipline were not affected because of inconsistent results. For example, “Okiki and Ashiru (2011) who found in their study more male (53.82%) than female (46.18%). However, the result obtained in this study contradicts those of Ukachi (2013); Ebijuwa (2018) whose studies had more female than male students” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). Another interesting finding is that there was no consistent pattern between undergraduates using electronic library resources and the number of different disciplines. For example, “Faculty of Science used E-journals, Ebooks, CD-ROM databases, OPAC and E-thesis more frequently than the faculties of Arts, Social Science and Engineering” (Ebijuwa & Mabawonku, 2019). At the end of this article, researchers recommend six different ways undergraduates can improve the use of electronic library resources. For instance, library staff should encourage, recommend, and promote toward undergraduates to use other electronic library resources instead of just prefer one over the other.

What can be gained by American Libraries?

Although the scope of this study was relatively small and focused on usages statistics of undergraduate students, their recommendations are applicable internationally, and across all manner of user demographics. Ebijuwa and Mabawonku make the recommendation that library staff can increase electronic resource utilization by encouraging users to explore all electronic resource options rather than using the same resource every time, and suggest adoption of “various motivation strategies to promote the use of electronic library resources among the undergraduates.” They further recommend that wireless should be available to undergraduates across campus rather than at libraries or specific buildings alone; which can be taken a step farther by public institutions as a recommendation to make free, easy access wireless available in all manner of public spaces to ensure seamless and equitable access.

Additionally, if the results of the study are extrapolated to user populations in general, and age tends to correlate to low electronic resource usage, then libraries need to consider how to bolster education for older patrons using electronic resources. More research should be done to examine demographics that correlate with low usage of electronic resources in American public libraries and how library systems can create and promote electronic resources for everyone.


Ebijuwa, A. S., & Mabawonku, I. (2019). Demographic variables and academic discipline as determinants of undergraduates use of electronic library resources in federal universities in South-West, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/2164