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How women are shaping the Web

It’s ten years since USA Today published an article stating that the number of women on the Web in the U.S. had surpassed the number of men. However, back then, the U.S. Internet audience was only 76 million, and men and women used the Web in very different ways.

Since then, Internet use has exploded around the globe and a host of new web-based technologies have emerged, including social networking, blogging, photo and video-sharing, and many other collaborative activities. Has this further changed the balance between women and men? Yes, says a new study by market research company comScore, and women are leading the way!

The study, titled “Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet”, suggests that much of the increased use of the Internet by women can be attributed to the emergence of social media and online communication channels. Social networking sites in particular are reaching a higher percentage of women than men worldwide, with 75.8 percent of all women online visiting such sites in May, versus 69.7 percent of men.

But it’s not just Facebook chatter and prize-hunting on Twitter that’s energizing women’s use of the Web. In the U.S., currently the largest e-commerce market in the world, women are also the key drivers of online buying. Women as a whole enter into more online transactions and collectively spend more.

Although some gender stereotypes still hold up – for example, online sports, automotive and stock trading sites largely remain male strongholds – others need to be re-thought. A significant percentage of women now view adult content online, and women are only just behind men when it comes to Internet-based gambling.

Men and women are also neck and neck when it comes to gaming online, although the type of games played varies significantly. Women are much more likely to favor casual games such as Solitaire, Sudoku or Scrabble, while men opt for action, adventure and sports games.

But it is in the world of social networking that the biggest differences show up. Women spend 30 percent more time on social networking sites than men, averaging 5.5 hours a month compared to 4 hours for men. The older the age group, the greater the difference.

Women “are embracing social networking in a way that men are not,” comScore reports. “Furthermore, the rise of social networking has prompted women of all ages to engage in a host of associated online activities, such as photo-sharing, gaming, video viewing and instant messaging. All of these activities have benefited from their linkage with social networking sites.”

comScore concludes that the current divide between men and women will only become more pronounced. The main thing holding women back is connectivity and that barrier is slowly being removed with the introduction of broadband at home and smartphones on-the-go. “Once women connect, they engage; once they engage, they embrace; once they embrace, they drive. And that’s the future.”

Comment by Sugar Jones, posted 8/16/2010, 10:30 AM:

I wonder how the rise in women on social media might correlate with with use of psychotropic drugs. I honestly feel like, beyond just daily communication, the benefits of having friends to reach out to in tough times has really been the best part of this internet trend.
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