Gender stereotypes about women and men are prevalent in computer science (CS). The study’s goal was to investigate the role of gender bias in computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL), group work in a CS context, by elaborating on gendered experiences in the perception of individual and team performance in mixed-gender teams in a hackathon.

We applied an exploratory mixed-method approach using quantitative survey data, including collective self-esteem scales, at several time points during the hackathon, which was analysed with clustering and descriptive statistics and complemented with qualitative coding of interviews with participants.

The Figure shows that, for both clusters, the self-esteem scores are predominantly located in the upper half of the scale, indicating a generally high (collective) self-esteem among all our participants. Nonetheless, all respective scores were lower for the women-dominated cluster (blue) compared to the men-dominated cluster (yellow), providing a consistent distinguishing factor between the clusters.

What did we find out?

The results demonstrate that social and psychological aspects of gender are important for understanding the outcomes and perceptions of gender in a CS hackathon. The analysis further suggests that collective self-esteem can be used as a key variable to assess gender differences in CSCL studies, providing explanatory benefits. More broadly, results gave reason to believe that CSCL in the CS domain currently severely fails to account for gender representation. Interviewed participants raised substantial concerns about the underlying gender stereotypes prevalent in communication, team roles, and work division. We provide recommendations for practitioners seeking to create gender-inclusive and counter-stereotypical CSCL and wider, critical proposals for how we, as researchers, can assess gender with appropriate methodologies and interventions in computer science education.

The implications of study findings for practitioners

  • This study gives the following recommendations for CSCL technical and pedagogical designers:
  • (1) Designing with and for women and minority-specific privacy considerations.
  • (2) Creating gender-representative and gender-affirming communication infrastructures, counter-stereotypical roles in the teams and gender-balanced group constellation, along with pedagogical and teaching practice that is open for including women’s perspectives in grounded and participatory design processes.
  • (3) In terms of CSCL hackathons, I might also consider doing community-based hackathons that attract women and minorities, for instance, through connecting women and minority non-profit organisations with student developers, as in “Think Global Hack Local Hackathons”.

suggested citation

Kube, D., Gombert, S., Suter, B., Weidlich, J., Kreijns, K., & Drachsler, H. (2023). Hacking gender in computer-supported collaborative learning: The experience of being in mixed-gender teams at a computer science hackathon. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 115.