Women Embrace Technology - The Number of Female Web Surfers Grow Faster Than Overall Internet Population
Were you aware that.... Women make 66% of all computer purchases and 51% of all consumer electronic purchases?
The World of Computers & Technology is no longer a bastion of male supremacy. A recent online survey found that women are using computers and technology more than ever in their daily lives. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Intel Corp., investigated the differences between men and women and how they relate to technology.
The survey showed that a growing number of women use technology every day. Women are flocking to laptops, cell phones, and personal organizers. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently supported that fact by reporting that women splurged more on technology last year than men. According to the CEA, $55 billion of the $96 billion spent on tech products was spent by women.
Intel calls this new tech-savvy woman “TIF” for Technology Involved Female. The Harris survey showed that TIFs span many generations and come from diverse backgrounds. The TIFs include twenty-somethings who learned about technology in school as well as fifty-plus women who have learned on their own.
The survey also found that 58 per cent of women feel as lost as their male counterparts (56 per cent) if they don’t check e-mail at least once per day. Sixty-two per cent of women, compared with 66 per cent of men, are enthusiastic about learning how to use new features on their PCs.
One other interesting note: the survey also said that women are nearly three times as likely as men to believe that the opposite sex overstates their knowledge about computers (32 per cent women versus 10 per cent men). So watch out guys. The girls are coming and they may make you fess up to how much you really know about computers and technology.
Women's Online Impact
Every day, another woman logs on to the Internet for the first time. These new users combine to create an interesting phenomenon in the Web World. The number of at-home female Internet users is showing a marked increase over the number of male users. This increase is so impressive that the ladies are now a majority.
A Pink Majority
Women now account for 52% of home Internet users. According to Nielsen NetRatings, that statistic represents 55 million surfing ladies, up from 50.4 million last year. The guys are lagging behind with 49.8 million male home users, up from 48.2 million in December 2000. The total home Internet population in the US grew 6% last year, but the number of women online increased by 9%. Men online increased by only 3%. (CNET: Number of Female Web Surfers Grow Faster Than Overall Internet Population, According to Nielsen//NetRatings)
That gender differences are now appearing on the Web may be a surprise to some. Even though women outnumber men in the real world, the Web has, for years, been considered a male bastion. Men, with their love of gadgets and grown-up playthings, were the first high-tech followers, but women were not to be left behind. As women move into the Internet world, they bring with them their traditional habits. In fact, as they surf the Net, both sexes fall into well-worn patterns. Women’s use of the Internet reflects their lives in general and also shows how the lifestyle of women is changing, thanks to the computer.
Precious Online Time
Online time is valuable to women. With jobs, parenting, and domestic demands, women often have less time to surf. Many women who assume a majority of the household responsibilities face a time crunch at home with less leisure time than men to spend on activities such as surfing the Internet. It is not surprising, therefore, that the average woman spends less time in front of the computer than her male counterpart. Men spend about eleven hours online a month whereas women spend only nine hours. Averaging about 21 sessions during the month, men logged onto the Internet 24% more times than women who surfed only 17 times during the month these statistics were gathered.
Men move through a Web site faster than women and, in the end, view 40% more pages than women. While the lady of the house would be viewing 573 pages, the man of the house would have looked at 801 pages. Women seem to be more efficient in their Web usage; they generally know what they are looking for and leave once they achieve their goal. The average man is estimated to bookmark about sixty Web pages whereas his female counterpart only bookmarks sixteen sites. Women are known to spend more time on a particular site. Statistics show that females are looking for different information than the traditional male audience. Recent surveys by Nielsen/Net Ratings show that men tend to be interested in news and information sites while women respond to sites that are more content focused and interactive.
The Reasons Why
Let’s look again at that woman who has just logged on to the Internet for the first time. Why has she responded to the call of the Web? The how much and how many statistics on women’s use of the Internet are impressive, but another quick question comes to mind about women on the Web. Why? Why is the Internet gaining such popularity with today’s women? The reasons are many and varied. Women, like men, are drawn by entertainment and information, but for women the communications medium that the Internet provides is extremely enticing. Women are known to talk and communicate more than men. The dynamic duo of the computer and the Internet offers a wonderful way for women to keep in touch. E-mail improves and speeds up communication networks with family and friends that are so important to the female of the species. Women are finding that e-mail can strengthened family ties and keep them in touch with friends around the world. Many working women also use the Internet as a great tool for business communications and networking. Today’s women are not shy about putting technology to work for them.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Women find the computer opens valuable new communicating opportunities, as well. Women are creating and participating in online communities. Most are based on common interests. They flourish because the Internet removes both geographical and time-of-day constraints. These communities are based on the same fabric as women’s clubs, bridge clubs, and book clubs of old, but they fit better into today’s woman’s busy life. Women are using the computer on their own schedule, any time day or night, to access discussion communities. Vibrant and dynamic online communities where women can share their life experiences and feelings are now providing women with the support and personal interaction that their busy lives may have previously curtailed. The Internet also presents women with another communication tool that is very popular– chat rooms. A replacement for talking over the backyard fence, chat rooms let women benefit from instantaneous contact with others.
Woman-Oriented Web Sites
If you go to a search engine like Google and enter women online, you will be presented with an abundance of sites to visit. You will see that women are busy with chats, message boards, shopping, health, career, relationships, and entertainment. Other topics are entrepreneurial women, social services, and women in politics. As late as 1995, there was no easy-to-access area for women. Even Yahoo had not broken out a main category for women. Resources for women were hard to find. Collections of online resources of interest to women, women-focused links, and female-oriented resources online were late in developing.
Women have certainly changed the Web
The Internet now offers a myriad of female-oriented sites, and even search engines focused on women’s issues. One site, WWWomen, bills itself as the Premier Search Directory for Women Online. The site’s category lists give a good overview of the topics women are seeking online. Of course, there are non-gender specific areas of interest like Arts and Entertainment, Community, Government, Computers and the Internet. It is obvious though, that this search engine is designed for women when you see such topics as Women in Business, Diversity among Women, Feminism, Mothers/Parenting, Personal Time, Women’s Resources, Women Go Shopping, Women’s Sports, and Women throughout History. Other links from this search engine offer freebies and discounts (real winners with the gals) as well as information on crafts, cooking, home biz opps, home décor, Internet shoppers, pregnancy/prenatal, toys, and games.
iVillage (www.ivillage.com) is another popular and well-known Internet site for women. This very visible company uses television advertising to invite an even wider female audience to visit their online site. iVillage.com is a women’s network for busy women sharing solutions and advice. By clicking the “find women like you,” you can locate customized information for different age groups as well as for African Americans, At home Moms, Grandparents, etc. iVillage is very big on message boards and chats. Communicating is an important part of this site as well as an integral part of women’s activities online.
Women are flocking to the Web, and all indications are their numbers will grow even stronger in the future. It will not be surprising to see their preferences as well as their numbers influence the online world. With the pink brigade coming online, the male-oriented broadcasting type of Internet may begin to evolve into a more interactive and dynamic world that offers the additional quality content that women demand. Those gender-related preferences know no boundaries, even online.
by Sandy Berger