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Isobel Coleman over at Council for Foreign Relations put this piece up last week:

The Internet’s Ongoing Gender Gap

“Although the Internet seems ubiquitous, for many people in the developing world it is barely a reality—and women are left behind at greater rates than men.”

(Photo from the Facebook page “I fucking love science“)

It’s focus is the developing countries, but the patterns are true also for the West. If knowledge is power, we should all have equal access. It’s not just the economy (Hillary’s husband isn’t right all the time), it’s also social habits.

The report quoted in the piece (available in full here) documents the different habits of women, as well as the technical structures granting access available to them. It’s really interesting! On a side note – the preface to the report is by the President of the Intel Foundation … Shelly Esque. Who is a woman…

A variety of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ drivers encourage women and girls to access the Internet. Women and girls are “pushed”
onto the Internet when, for example, their schools or workplaces require or encourage Internet use. Other drivers
that push women online are when the Internet provides the only, or better, access to a service, such as railway
bookings in India.
Thirty-four percent of women and girls in our survey used the Internet at work and 20 percent at school. Access
through work or school mitigates certain barriers, including lack of awareness and Internet skills. It also ensures
women have access to relevant content. Many women first exposed to the Internet at work or school will in the
long-term upgrade to personal access at home.
Pull drivers include the lure of status and attractive content. Social networking platforms are pull drivers, especially
for women and girls, who spend significantly more time social networking than men. Peer influence plays an
important role: seeing friends or family spend time on social networks can incite women to participate. Once pulled
online by popular sites such as Facebook or Orkut, women gain awareness of other online content.
The model of Facebook and other social networking platforms has users generate content. User-generated content
obviates a signal problem faced by women in developing countries: the lack of relevant content in local languages.

 

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