Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Study Shows Tech Confidence, Not Ability, is Key Difference Between Men & Women

A recent study completed by Northwestern and Princeton Universities uncovered that men and women are comparably skilled when it comes to the Internet. The main difference is how women describe their abilities versus how men rate their own skills.

The study asked participants to perform a number of online tasks ranging from locating tax forms to location a particular candidate’s views on abortion, and the results showed that men and women handled the tasks with equal aplomb. When women described their abilities, however, they were far more likely to minimize their abilities.

Men had no such problem.

“Not a single woman among all our female study subjects called herself and “expert” user, while not a single male ranked himself as a complete novice or ‘not at all skilled’” noted Eszter Hargaitti, a co-author of the study.

I suspect this issue has similar results in digital photography. Confidence is key when it comes to hunting down the best camera, playing with it to better understand a camera’s features and experimenting with a new software program.

Women must embrace the uncertainty, feel free to experiment, and practice their poker face when it comes to digital camera shopping.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most from your favorite photo retailer:

Don’t be afraid to express what you want and what you don’t want. If a suggestion doesn’t meet your needs, politely tell the salesperson, and tell him why. If he knows specifics, he can better help guide you.

Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Women often don’t give themselves enough credit for their abilities. Not sure how to use the camera settings or if you even need to know what ‘manual mode’ is? Let your curiosity be your guide and be content with the fact that this is a learning process. Men experience it, too—they just cover their uncertainty better.

Don’t be afraid to keep asking, “So, how does (insert topic here) work? If you’d like to learn via the Web, visit sites like http://www.howstuffworks.com/.

Consider signing up for a workshop. Many retailers now offer a wide variety of digital photography workshops covering a wide range of topics. Take the opportunity to get some hands-on experience; you may even make a new friend or two.

If you aren’t getting the service you expect, speak up! If you’re worried about confrontation, simply contact the business owner or manager after you’ve returned home. Management needs to be aware of any issue, and he/she can only improve the experience if you tell them specifically what you disliked. Vote with your wallet and voice your opinion.

Above all, have fun. You’ll soon find you’re on your way to mastering the digital photography experience.


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