Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 11 News List

US women closing Internet's gender gap, study shows

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

The Web has traditionally been a male bastion -- but women are closing the Internet's gender gap, a new study reveals.

Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 61 percent of US men go online each day, compared with 57 percent of women. But while there is a greater proportion of men using the Internet, the larger female population means there are now more women than men on the Web.

The study suggests that while men are holding on to their status as early adopters of the Web, younger women are outstripping their male counterparts in nearly all areas.

While older men are more likely to use the Internet than older women, the opposite is true for younger users -- 86 percent of women aged 18 to 29 will regularly connect to the Web, as opposed to 80 percent of men in the same range.

The study, which examined the habits of more than 6,000 Internet users across the US, shows the sexes have different uses for the Web.

While men are more interested in information, women are concerned with communication and social networks.

Men are more likely to read the news, check weather forecasts, download music and do job-related research. Women send e-mail, view maps, and get background information on health problems.

"If there is an overall pattern of differences here, it is that men value the Internet for the breadth of experiences it offers, and women value it for the human connections," said Deborah Fallows, senior research fellow at Washington-based Pew and author of the report.

The Pew study suggests that variations in Internet habits are narrowing as adoption grows, according to Fallows.

She believes gender differences will even out as access becomes ubiquitous.

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