Demographic Diversity & Technology

I. Introduction

a. Definition

i. Demographic Diversity

Demographic – the statistical study of human populations especially with references to size and density, distribution, and vital statistics.
Diversity – the ways in which people are similar or different from each other.
Demographic Diversity refers to how the people are similar or different according to the population in reference to various groupings, such as age, sex, ethnicity, etc.

ii. Technology

The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, esp. in industry: "computer technology"; "recycling technologies".

b. Opening

Technology is interwoven into our lives unto almost all aspects. Technology is a readily available resource that everyone is free to use and it is the same to all, in whatever ways it is obtained. However, as an individual, each and every one of us are unique in some sense. Generally, on the most basic sense, we are defined by our gender, age and the location of where we live. These differentiation results in unique ways how technology is adopted and used by each individual. We hope to delve further into the issue and present a plausible advice for people on the issue "Demographic Diversity and Technology".


II. Effect of Gender on Technology Adoption

a. Evidence 1:

"The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which gender affect student's attitude toward computers instruction in school...An attitude questionnaire including cognitive affective attitude scales was administered to 222 Israeli pupils in grade 8 through 10 who study in schools where computers have not yet been introduced...Sex differences in affective and cognitive attitudes were also observed where boys had significantly more positive affective attitudes toward computers than girls."[1] The result of this study shows that males tend to be more interested in being exposed to new technology than females. By males being interested in learning new technology, it results favorable towards males than females in adoption to technology. Technology is perceived as masculine instead of feminine. It's easier for men to adapt to new technology compare to women. Females have "higher levels of computer anxiety than males" (Brosnan, 1998, p.1)[2] , and 64% of females agree that technology is a male's activity.

b. Evidence 2:

Gender Differences:
In South Korea, both males and females mainly use the computers for social networking, personal knowledge, formal learning, and entertainment. The differences between them are that males use the computer to play multi-user online games and the females just use the computer towards social networking websites. Even though they use the computer for different reason, they are still using the computer in a similar way. “Many educators feel that girls and young women do not develop the same experience with computer as boys and young men do” (Lim, 2011, p. 576)[3] this means that the women’s attitude towards technology is less positive than males.
It is said that girls are less interested and less confident in learning on how to use the computer even though they are as capable as males in using the computers.
Gender Similarities:
However some females do enjoy using technology such as computers and Palm Pilots. The Web 2.0 that has been developed is changing the aspect of the gender differences. The way we communicate now (i.e. instant messaging and social networking) is starting to change the way people view females and their use in technology. Since technology is changing and increases especially with more online social networking, blogging, and other communication tools many females are becoming more interested in the use of technology. Females are starting to catch up in technology and that they have “a significantly higher frequency of collaborative instances using computer mediated communication (CMC) than males” (Lim, 2010, p. 578)[4] , this means that they are more collaboratively oriented in the online communication.

c. Analysis:

As said in Evidence 1, men are able to adapt to technology easier than females because men have interest in technology while many women afraid of technology. Males are more exposed to technology than females are. Since more and more technology being introduced, many women are starting to become more familiar with technology. As said in Evidence 2 when talking about how women are similar to men, women enjoy using the creative side of technology. Like blogging and social networking for example. As blogging and social networking is increasing rapidly, most females are getting the hang of technology and are catching up to the males.


III. Effect of Age on Technology Adoption

a. Older generation

Many studies have been performed on workers of all ages. These tests and studies support the idea that age has a great influence of how an individual adopts technology. One of these studies was performed by Friedberg who analyzed the relationship between computer use at work and the age of the workers using individual data on American workers in the year 1993[5] . What her results revealed was that workers younger than 60 years use a computer more often thank workers older than 60 years. Using individual-level data from 1997 of German male workers, Schleife finds that the probability of computer use among workers aged between 55 and 64 years is significantly lower than that of workers between 25 and 34 years[6] .

During the work day, it was found that 47 percent of those who are aged 55 and over send text messages to colleagues, compared to 26 percent of millenials." Also, it is found that the older generation value face to face meetings and confrontations more than the younger generation.

According to a report by Citrix Online, baby boomers are adopting more technological solutions and skills compared to Generation Y. Although the younger generation catch on to new products and services trends faster, the older generation are quickly catching up.[7]

b. Younger generation

According to an article from Personnel Psychology, there was a research conducted on age differences in technology adoption. The research's purpose was to observe users reaction and behavior in introduction to new technology at work. As a result of the research they found that: "2 points of measurement, compared to older workers, younger workers' technology usage decisions were more strongly influenced by attitude toward using the technology. In contrast, older workers were more strongly influenced by subjective norm and perceived behavioral control, although the effect of subjective norm diminished over time."[8] The younger workers easily adapted to the new technology with strong attitude towards it because of their familiarity with technology. The older workers were able to adapt to the new technology, but they weren't able to be up to par with the younger workers in the long-term.
"This research extends the theory of planned behavior by incorporating gender and age as moderators of user perceptions and individual adoption and sustained use of technology in the workplace. While previous studies in the literature have reported gender or age differences separately, the pattern of results from the study reported here indicated that gender effects in individual adoption and use of
technology differed based on age. Specifically, gender differences in technology perceptions became more pronounced among older workers, but a unisex pattern of results emerged among younger workers."[9] This research aids in proving that younger workers are more likely to adapt to new technology when they are exposed to new programs for the company.

c. Comparison of the Older and Younger Generation

LexisNexis conducted a Technology Gap survey that compared technology and software usage among generations of working professionals, including Baby Boomers (ages ranging from 44-60), Generation X (ages ranging from 29-43) and Generation Y (ages 28 and younger). The survey included a total sample size of 700 professionals.[10]

i. Impact on Office Etiquette

Tension in the workplace is caused by differences in what is considered to be appropriate use of technology and software between generations. [11] According to the survey:
  • Two-thirds of all Boomers agree that Personal Digital Assistants (like the Blackberry) and cellular phones contribute to a decline in proper workplace etiquette, and believe the use of a laptop during in-person meetings is "distracting," less than half of Gen Y workers agree.
  • Only 17% of Boomers believe using laptops or PDAs during in-person meetings is "efficient," while more than one third of Gen Y do.
  • About 40% percent of Gen Y workers think blogging about work-related issues is acceptable, while only twenty eight percent of Boomers do.

ii. Blurred Boundaries Between Work & Home

Personal and professional tasks have been blurred due to online technologies such as blogs and social networking tools. According to the survey:
  • 55% of Gen Y and forty percent of Gen X report accessing a social networking site from work, while only thirteen percent of Boomers do.
  • 52% of Gen Y professionals think it is appropriate to add a colleague or coworker on a social networking site, compared to only twenty percent of Boomers.

iii. Technology Overload

According to the Technology Gap survey, more than half of working professionals believe that technology influences multitasking. The people surveyed were asked to report on how much time they spent on each of four types of applications in an average work day (e-mail; internet browsers, instant messaging, and Microsoft Office). This is what the survey found:
  • The average time reported that users utilized these applications daily added up to a total of 16.2 hours, far greater than the standard 8-hour work day.
  • This suggests that people have many various applications open at the same time, and access them simultaneously .
  • The multi-tasking trend has a great generational bias, with Gen Y logging a cumulative total of over 20 hours across all these applications daily, while Boomers only have a total of about 12 hours.

IV. Effect of Location on Technology Adoption

A survey performed by Harte Hanks Market Intelligence of Internet Use at 86,879 commercial establishments with 100 or more employees, found that 88.6% of establishments used simple Internet functions, such as e-mail and browsing, while only 12.6% used the more advanced applications. Urban-based businesses reported greater usage of advanced applications (14.7%) than rural businesses (10.6%).[12]

Historically, we can correlate technology adoption with population; as many technological advances were brought on by the cities that had the greatest number of people. During its’ peak era Rome was considered the center of the world, as many astonishing feats and advances in scientific knowledge was fostered. Another great example is the Chinese and Egyptian nations. Silk fabric, a common textile nowadays, was a luxury item that was intricately produced and the most sought-after luxury in ancient times, which no other nation were able to mimic its production during this time. Similarly, at the same time, the Egyptian people were creating architectural marvels with the construction of pyramids. Still to this day, the Great Pyramid of Khufu remains one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Top 10 Populous City in Year 100[13]

Luoyang (Honan), China
Seleucia (on the Tigris), Iraq
Alexandria, Egypt
Antioch, Turkey
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Peshawar, Pakistan
Carthage, Tunisia
Suzhou, China
Smyrna, Turkey
4G Service of T-Mobile at start up. (Red Markings)

Even to this day, technology adoption is more evident in more urban areas. On a more native and current viewpoint, recently U.S.’s telecommunications are undergoing a major advancement in cellular wireless technology. A fourth generation of cellular network called the “4g” is being implemented and being provided to customers by major cellular carriers. However, the technology is not readily available nation-wide. Only select highly urbanized cities have access to the service. Urban areas have the highest average adoption rates nearly 40% higher than rural areas. These simple differences in averages suggest that the diffusion of internet technology followed a traditional urban leadership pattern.[14]

In different areas, there is great diversity among the people. For example, here in North America business decisions may be made over e-mails or the telephone without being a problem. However, in Asia such as Japan or South Korea, this may be frowned upon and an actual face-to-face meeting is placed with importance for a business decision. As a result, there is a great deal of video conference in North America, whereas the frequency of this technology in Asia is much less. This cultural difference may result in how the population adapts technology and how it is used.

As the world went through great technology advancements and adoption at a rapid rate, we are able to observe that population was not the only factor in technology. Wealth of the nation started to factor in the adaptation of technology. More specifically, how a certain country utilizes its’ resources and progression of its’ industrialization. The table below analyzes and rates each country by its’ level of spending in research and development (R&D) in their respective industrial sector. Honduras has nearly twice the population of Costa Rica, their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is less than half[15] . We can see from the table below that Costa Rica has a much higher level of R&D spending than Honduras.

World Competitiveness Report 2001-2002, Opinion about Level of R&D Spending for Different Countries

Companies' R&D spending in the country*
Costa Rica
El Salvador
United States
* 1=is non-existent, 7=is heavy relative to international peers

While this is not a definitive indicator of how well a country adapts to technology, it does show that it does facilitate in acquiring new technology and cultivate an environment that promotes innovation[16] . More industrialized nations do show evidence that technologies are more readily adapted by the public as well. For example, the infrastructure of broadband internet connection in South Korea is the fastest in the world, more than four times faster than the U.S. counterparts. As one of the more developed countries in the world, Korea is the leader in broadband, continually investing in expanding and adapting to new and better technology. As a result, experts predict that Korea’s broadband speed will be ten times faster than it is now[17] .

On a larger scale, such as world-wide, we can observe even a greater discrepancy on technology adoption. Technology is adopted at an even greater differing rate when comparing country to country. Another strong indicator of this could be patents that were granted. As evidenced by the table below, we see a comparison of countries and their patents granted according to a certain span of time.

Per Capita US Patents (Patents granted, per 100,000 people, classified according to year of application)

Costa Rica
El Salvador
Central America

South Korea
As we can see, towards the 21st century, a number of countries experienced a sudden boom in increase of patents that were granted. These countries, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, underwent a successful growth in its technology sector by investing and spending resources to strengthen their knowledge. This further proves that a continual innovation towards the progression of industrialization is just as important as having the man power. This is only possible with constant adoption of new technology to maintain innovation.

Nevertheless, the less developed countries are working hard to catch up. As technology becomes more readily available, cheaper and easier to obtain, it provides the proper basis for innovation. Cheap, easy to use laptops were provided to African students by Hewlett-Packard, who otherwise would have never been able to be exposed to such simple amenities we take for granted.


V. Conclusion

Our research and findings support that traditionally technology has been predominantly innovated and embraced by the younger, of the male sex, and those in highly urbanized areas. However, as technology advances, the trend we saw starts becoming blurry.

The gap between men and women, in terms of technology adoption and use, is becoming closer and closer. Women these days are becoming just as proficient in new technology as men are and just as capable of adopting. The gradual ease of access to technology allows women and men to develop familiarity with technology on an “equal footing” that blurs the line of gender differences in technology adoption. We also see a familiar setting with age differences. The older generation views technology as more of a nuisance as opposed to the younger generation who are accustomed to using technology in all environments. Yet, the attitudes of the older generation towards technology and its use in social and work environments are becoming more favorable. Although they are more experienced, they realize that in order to adapt and survive, technology is something that they cannot ignore. The lines of technology and its utilization between locations are still rather well-defined. Highly industrialized, urban areas are more likely to adopt to new technology faster and efficiently than the less populated and less developed areas.

VI. Suggestion to Management

Demographic diversity and technology is an issue that managerial department is constantly facing. It is a unique and diverse problem that changes and is currently changing. Still, we feel that we can offer management some helpful suggestions that can alleviate any concern and prevent any issues.

  • Provide a clear guideline for all prospective and current employees of all technological knowledge required for the job. These days job descriptions clearly state what minimum technical skills are needed for the job, however, some professions distinctly requires the basic skills beyond simple Microsoft Office literacy.
  • Provide adequate instruction and education on specialized technological skills. Many people these days are willing to learn, as they begin to realize having specialized technological skills are an asset. Offer efficient tutorials/lessons to benefit both the employer and employee.
  • Allow relevant and useful computer mediated communication (CMC) in the work environment. Instant messages can greatly increase communication lines within the organization. Properly utilizing, with appropriate etiquette and method, CMC can actually be beneficial.
  • Experience is an invaluable asset that can take a long time to acquire. Do not immediately turn away prospective employees based on their age. Instead create a mentorship program that allows an environment where a younger generation may benefit by learning from the experienced older generation. In turn, an older generation may learn technological skills from the younger generation. It can be a win-win situation.

VII. References

  1. ^
    Levin, T., & Gordon, C. (1989). Effect of gender and computer experience on attitudes toward computers. Journal of Educational Computing Research , 5(1), 69-88. Retrieved from,4,4
  2. ^ Brosnan, M. (1998). The impact of psychological gender, gender-related perceptions, significant others, and the introducer of technology upon computer anxiety in students. Journal of Educational Computing Research , 18(1), 73-78. Retrieved from,5,6;journal,108,176;linkingpublicationresults,1:300321,1
  3. ^
    Lim, K., & Meier, E. B. (2011). Different but similar: computer use patterns between young Korean males and females. Educational Technology Research & Development; 59 (4), 575-592. doi:10.1007/s11423-011-9206-5
  4. ^
    Lim, K., & Meier, E. B. (2011). Different but similar: computer use patterns between young Korean males and females. Educational Technology Research & Development; 59 (4), 575-592. doi:10.1007/s11423-011-9206-5
  5. ^
    Friedberg, L. (2003): “The Impact of Technological Change on Older Workers: Evidence
    from Data on Computer Use,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 56(3), 511–529.
  6. ^ Schleife, K. (2006): “Computer Use and the Employment Status of Older Workers,”
    LABOUR: Review of Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, 20(2), 325–348.
  7. ^
    AARP Global Network.(2010, October 20). Boomers adapting to new technology in the workplace. Retrieved from News/ProductsandServices/Global business Trends for 50 plus/Pages/Boomers adapting to new technology in the workplace800135393.aspx\
  8. ^
    Morris, M. G., & Venkatesh, V. (2000). AGE DIFFERENCES IN TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION DECISIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR A CHANGING WORK FORCE. Personnel Psychology, 53(2), 375-403.
  9. ^
    Morris, M. G., Venkatesh, V., & Ackerman, P. L. (2005). Gender and age differences in employee decisions about new technology: An extension to the theory of planned behavior. Engineering Management, IEEE Transactions on, 52(1), 69-84.
  10. ^
    LexisNexis® Technology Gap Survey. (2008). WorldOne Research. Retrieved November 23, 2011, from
  11. ^
    New Study Examines Technology Generation Gap in the Legal Workplace. (2009, April 15). Business Solutions & Software for Legal, Education and Government | LexisNexis Home. Retrieved November 26, 2011, from
  12. ^
    Forman, Christopher, Avi Goldfarb, and Shane Greenstein (2005). “How Did Location Affect Adoption of the Commercial Internet? Global Village vs. Urban Leadership.” Journal of Urban Economics, 58(3): 389-420.
  13. ^
    Source: Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census by Tertius Chandler. 1987, St. David's University Press. Retrieved from
  14. ^
    Forman, Chris, Avi Goldfarb, and Shane Greenstein. 2003b. "How Did Location Affect Adoption of the Commercial Internet? Global Village, Urban Leadership, and Industry Composition." NBER Working Paper #9979.
  15. ^
  16. ^
    Giunta, A., & Trivieri, F. (2007). Understanding the determinants of information technology adoption: evidence from Italian manufacturing firms. Applied Economics, 39(10), 1325-1334. doi:10.1080/00036840600567678
  17. ^ Sutter, J. (2010, March 31). Why internet connections are fastest in South Korea. CNN Tech. Retrieved from