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Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
Sex and power gender di erences in computer
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Sex and power gender di erences in computer

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  • 1. CHB 281p Disk used DTD=4.1.0 Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh Sex and power: gender di€erences in computermediated interactions N.M. Sussman*, D.H. Tyson Department of Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology, The College of Staten Island, The City University of New York, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA Abstract A preponderance of psychological literature indicates gender di€erences in written and oral communication. This study explores a new channel of communication, that of cybertalk. As this method of discourse is not gender-salient, one might argue that sex di€erences in communication style would be eliminated or reduced. However, we suggest that gendered power di€erentials in communication style transcend the medium. Archived electronic discussions (n=701) on sex-typed topics were selected and analyzed for length, frequency of communication and discourse content (fact vs. opinion). It was hypothesized that male communicators would display power behaviors by writing longer postings, by posting more frequently, and by writing more opinionated discourse as compared to female communicators. Congruent with the ®rst prediction, men's discourse entries consisted of a greater number of words. However, women communicated more frequently than did men, a ®nding opposite to the hypothesized direction. The third gendered comparison, while not reaching statistical signi®cance, indicated a modest trend with men writing more opinionated communications in two out of the three sex-typed categories (masculine and gender-neutral). Findings suggest that cyberspace, a context where gender of communicators is not salient, remains a maledominated atmosphere, where gender di€erentiation and power displays in communication persist, similar to other communication modes. # 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Computer interaction; Gender di€erences; Power 1. Introduction Modern technology and the advent of computers have introduced not only a hightech means of communication but another milieu in which linguistic and written *Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-718-982-3763; fax: +1-718-982-3794. E-mail address: sussman@postbox.csi.cuny.edu (N.M. Sussman). 0747-5632/00/$ - see front matter # 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S0747-5632(00)00020-0
  • 2. 382 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 di€erences between the sexes can be analyzed. Increasingly, computers are a common and versatile household item. It has been estimated that by the year 2000 nearly 50% of the population will own a personal computer and have home access to the Internet. Additionally, as of 1997, 72% of all library systems in the US provided access to a computer. With this technological advance more conventional modes of communication (face-to-face interactions, letters, telephone discourse) become augmented. Individuals can now communicate both nationally and internationally using computer applications, such as e-mail, chat rooms, and computer-mediated discussion groups. Literally at one's ®ngertips, social interaction takes on a new dimension as time and space condense creating a reachable world. Yet, it is unclear whether all members of society communicate similarly in this cyberworld. In particular, how do men and women participate and interact within this communication mode? In one of the earliest studies on gender di€erences in communication, Lako€ (1975) proposed that men and women use language di€erently and attempted to prove that ``women's language'' existed. Lako€ contended that the manifestation of women's weaker linguistic behaviors (empty adjectives, e.g. `divine' and `charming', tag questions, and hedges) is a product of the female socialization process, a process which abets in maintaining women in social subservience. As a result, women are said to speak the language of the powerless, whereas men speak the language of the powerful. It has been clearly demonstrated that sex-linked stereotypes do exist (Kramer, 1977). Women's speech is perceived as gentle, fast, trivial, emotional, detailed and great in quantity. In contrast, men's speech is perceived as boastful, demanding, coarse, dominating, forceful and loud. In a later study, Briton and Hall (1995) expanded these ®ndings in an investigation of the perception of male/female nonverbal communicative behaviors. Results indicated that men were believed to interrupt more, speak louder, and display more nervous mannerisms when interacting. Women, on the other hand, were believed to be more expressive, more skilled at sending and decoding nonverbal messages and to participate in more nonverbal communicative behaviors. To test these robust stereotypical perceptions, a considerable number of empirical investigations have been conducted. Researchers have investigated verbal and nonverbal communication by exploring a vast array of variables. Gender di€erences have been found in simultaneous talk/interruptions (Breshnahan & Cai, 1996; Drass, 1986; James & Clarke, 1993; Mott & Petrie, 1995; Roger, 1989; Zimmerman & West, 1975), amount of talk (Edelsky, 1981; Hirshman, 1994; James & Drakich, 1993; Mulac, 1989), non-verbal communication (Mehrabian, 1969), interpersonal conversation distance (Sussman & Rosenfeld, 1982), power dynamics (Balkwell & Berger, 1996; Dovidio, Brown, Heltman, Ellyson & Keating, 1988; Fishman, 1978; Johnson, 1994; Meeker & Weitzeil-O'Neil, 1977; Tannen, 1984; Walker, Ilardi & Fennel, 1996) as well as the e€ect of gender identity on conversation (Drass, 1986). Systematic observations of variations in written discourse have also been investigated, though less extensively. Studies within this domain have focused on the literature produced by grade-school students (Mulac, Studley & Blau, 1990), undergraduates (Deming & Gowen, 1990), adults (Boser, 1991) and literary authors
  • 3. N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 383 (Roen, Peguesse, & Abordonade, 1995; Roulis, 1995; Rubin & Greene, 1992). The latter investigations focused on structural and grammatical di€erences in the literary works of male and female writers. Fewer studies have examined male/female communication across other media, such as the telephone (Mott & Petrie, 1995) and in the less gender-conspicuous atmosphere of cyberspace (Matheson, 1991; McCormick & Leonard, 1996; Topper, 1997). Consideration has also been made for contextual in¯uences on communication dynamics. As a result, communicative gender di€erences have been examined in educational settings within teacher/student exchanges, as well as in the work place (Johnson, 1994; Mott & Petrie, 1995) and at home (Fishman, 1978; O'Donohue & Crouch, 1996). To further add to this wealth of research, gender-based interactive styles have been explored in situations where the gender of communicators was apparent as they occurred in same- and mixed-sex groups (Balkwell & Berger, 1996), and among parties of same and unequal status (Aries, 1982; Johnson, 1994; Meeker & Weitzel-O'Neil, 1977; Mott & Petrie, 1995). Via these and other naturalistic and laboratory studies, researchers have isolated gender-typical verbal, non-verbal and written patterns of communication. In sum, and despite some inconsistencies in ®ndings, these studies have established that across contexts men tend to be more dominant, both from a verbal and non-verbal perspective (Mehrabian, 1969). Men tend to be more competitive, proactive (opinionated), task-oriented (suggestive and informational), loquacious (producing more and longer statements), more likely to exercise opinion leadership and more apt to use conversational strategies (interruptions and dominant posturing) to construct relationships based on power (Aries, 1982; Deaux, 1977; Gilligan, 1982). In contrast, women are more socio-emotional, reactive, verbally dominant only when in the presence of men of equal status, ask more questions, write longer and more expressive statements, and do more supportive work to prolong the longevity of a conversation (Aries, 1982; Fishman, 1978; Roen et al., 1995; Tannen, 1990). Cyber research with an emphasis on gender has grown rapidly in the past 3 years evidenced in part by the number of relevant studies appearing as dissertation abstracts. Several studies focus on the e€ect of gender on computer use in general and have found no di€erences between men and women in computer anxiety (Chmielewski, 1998; Otomo, 1998). Katz, Maitland, Hannah Burggraf and King (1999) ®nd that while women report less comfort using computers as compared to men, they viewed the computer as more useful than men. More speci®c research regarding gender and Internet use, in a study of fourth-grade students, indicated no di€erences between girls and boys in the ability to complete Internet activities, although girls displayed greater enthusiasm for the project (Martin, 1998). Two studies have focused on the e€ect of gender and power on Internet communication. Carstarphen and Lambiase (1998) suggest that gender barriers in cyberspace are erected, in part, by language and code issues and that the rhetoric of cyberspace is modeled on the power structures and hierarchies of the dominant discourse in the ``outernet''. Similarly, Cushing (1996), in an ethnographic study, ®nds a lack of female voices and actors on the Internet and suggests that male rituals and linguistic patterns dominate.
  • 4. 384 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 Two dominant viewpoints have emerged in the literature which add explanatory and theoretical support for the ever present gender distinctions. The socialization perspective posits that roles attached to and socially maintained across the life-span condition individuals to behave in alliance with gendered expectations. Women and men are said to belong to di€erent sociolinguistic subcultures (Tannen, 1984), a di€erence which is then internalized and re¯ected in male/female language usage. In accordance with gender-role socialization, men's linguistic style is tainted with a competitive edge, while women engage in relational discourse. Tannen (1990) labels this linguistic phenomenon as a process of ``report talk'' fueling men's discourse and ``rapport talk'' as the dynamo of women's. Some feminist writers have taken a radical stance with the contention that language is itself a male-governed phenomenon, against which the female voice is often pitted (Gilligan, 1982). Status theory, however, places more importance on status as the pivotal determinant of gendered communication. Men, being the dominant social group, engage in social behavior which re¯ects on a micro-social level (via language) the macro-social gendered hierarchical social structure Ð a dominant patriarchal system. Social power is therefore re¯ected in men's language as a function of their ruling masculine status (Henley, 1977). Expectation States Theory (EST) has been proposed to elucidate the relationship between gender and the expression of power in communication (Berger, Rosenholtz & Zelditch, 1980). Dovidio et al. (1988), in an investigation of gender-based task familiarity on communication power displays, found that both men and women display more verbal and nonverbal power dynamics when involved in discussions within their gender domain. Similarly, Leet-Pellegrini (1980) as cited in Woods (1989), found that status behaviors occur within mixed-sex groups but only when gender interacts with interactant's expertise on the topic of discussion. The purpose of this study is to determine whether gender-based power di€erences in communication would generalize to an anonymous communication situation, cyberspace, where discourse content could take precedence over gender of communicators. Shimano€ (1980) suggests that stability in behavior across contexts is a clear indication that a behavior is rule governed. Male power-display in communication has been consistent across those contexts that have been investigated in the past. Thus, it is expected that, despite the opportunity which cyberspace o€ers for genderneutral communication, gender (and the degree to which topics lie within one's gender domain) would still serve as a status characteristic and thereby foster power dynamics during cyber interactions. Speci®cally, we hypothesized the following: 1. Men would produce longer postings than would women. In accordance with Status Theory, it is hypothesized that dominant status behavior is revealed via the length of newsgroup postings by males. This hypothesis parallels similar ®ndings for verbal and written communication. 2. Men would communicate more frequently than would women. Status theory and prior gender-based communication research ®ndings indicate male verbal and written behaviors to be characterized by competition, task orientation and
  • 5. N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 385 production of more communicative utterances. We predict similar behavior in newsgroup postings. 3. Men would generate more opinionated statements, regardless of sex-typed topic. Exercise of powered communication is re¯ected in males' frequent use of opinion leadership in communication contexts. Thus, three indices of power-behavior, length of communication, frequency in which communication is initiated and proportion of opinions expressed, were utilized to test these three hypotheses. 2. Method 2.1. Overview Newsgroups are a means of `public discussion' allowing people to communicate on a global level. Anyone who has access to a computer equipped with usenet software can gain access to newsgroups. In a manner similar to sending an e-mail, individuals post messages, questions or comments to `local' news servers who at a later point send the data to be publicly displayed on `neighboring' servers (Bell, 1998). Depending on the rules of the server, messages are displayed for days, weeks or months. The public is at liberty to read and respond to the posted messages. There are over 25,000 di€erent newsgroups and the number is continually growing. Newsgroups are named and organized hierarchically by subject (Hauben, 1993). The range of topics is diverse. There are newsgroups dealing with social issues (e.g. soc.culture.French), political issues (e.g. talk.politics.theory), sports, religion to name a few. This global connectivity o€ers many rewards. Netizens (individuals who participate in the Internet society) can increase their social connections, ®nd others holding similar interests, participate in collective work, improve quality of life, ®nd employment, improve communication with friends, and be exposed to, in a nonthreatening manner, opposing point of views (Hauben, 1995). Hauben does note that there is a large male to female ratio among the Net population and that females can be the target of net harassment. 2.2. Selection of discussion topics Out of thousands of discussion topics located on a newsgroup server, 30 were selected (10 masculine, 10 feminine, and 10 gender-neutral) and in a pilot test, were judged to be of interest either primarily to males, primarily to females or to both. A one-page questionnaire was constructed as a premeasure to determine the sex typing of discourse topics. Topics were randomly ordered into three rows of 10 topics each. A three-point categorical scale (1=feminine, 2=masculine and 3=gender-neutral) was used to make the ratings. For example, if the topic `®shing' was deemed as masculine, the rater would insert the number `2' as the appropriate selection in the space provided. The questionnaire was anonymous. Questionnaires
  • 6. 386 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 were distributed to 50 (21 males, 29 females) undergraduate students at The College of Staten Island, The City University of New York, and sex-typed ratings were made for each of the 30 discussion topics. Ratings were aggregated for each topic and mean scores were calculated to further sub-divide topics into masculine, feminine and gender-neutral categories. Topics with the two highest means within each gendered category were selected and used in this study. As a result, ®shing and baseball were selected as representative of the masculine category, ballet and ®gure skating represented the feminine category and news media and theatre were selected as more androgynous or gender-neutral topics. An example of ®gure skating postings is the following: Query: ``Just wondered who the fastest skaters are? From TV it seems that its (sic) Paul Wylie and Liz ManleyF F F Although they it (sic) hard to tell on TV but I can still see the speed Paul has.'' Response: ``I think Elena Liashenko, Yulia Lawrenchuk, Anna Rechnio, Irina Slutskaya, and Latitia Hubert are very fast and powerful ladies (sic) skaters but maybe not necessarily the most elegant skaters.'' An excerpt for the theatre newsgroup read as follows: I am performing the role of Celia from Shakespeare's As You Like It and am having great diculty ®nding viewpoints, essays and ideas on the play, and speci®cally, the character. Has anyone got any information or viewpoints on the play and Ð especially the character: her role in the play, why she marries so quickly, her personality, etc? I would be most grateful for any assistance. 2.3. Measures 2.3.1. Predictor variables This study incorporated two quasi-independent variables: sex of communicator (male/female) and gendered topic (masculine, feminine and gender-neutral). Both variables were used as markers for power-behavior in communication. Gender of communicator was determined by the signature attached at the end of discourse entries. In order to reduce the subjectivity involved in this method, postings made by anonymous communicators, those with initialized signatures and ambiguous names (e.g. Pat and Leigh) were excluded from the study. As mentioned above, sex-typing of topic was determined a priori by the pre-test. Since gender di€erences do exist in topic choice (Bischoping, 1993), and familiarity on the issue of discussion clearly in¯uences power displays (Dovidio et al., 1988), both were selected as markers for communication power dynamics. 2.3.2. Criterion variables Three variables were measured: length of communication, frequency of communication, and discourse content (fact vs. opinion). Length of discourse entries were calculated using a word-count method, where the actual number of words within
  • 7. N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 387 written communications were counted by encoders. Quoted information and statistical reproductions were given a one-word count as to better assess the actual verbosity of communicants. To determine the frequency in which communication was initiated, the ®rst 25 communicants of determinable sex who posted on each of the six selected topics on the randomly selected days, were assigned a subject number. All of their newsgroup postings were tallied for the day being investigated. Bales (1950) found a distinct correlation between the frequency in which interaction is initiated and expressions of power. This corroborates ®ndings by Rosa and Mazur (1979), who found that communicants with higher power initiate speech more often. Content was determined through the use of an author-developed scale. To make determinations of fact and opinion, four criteria were used in rating discourse entries, 1=factual, 2=opinion supported by fact, 3=opinion without factual support, and 4=miscellaneous (inquiries, advertisements, questions). Postings were coded as factual if it was considered general knowledge that its composing statements were indeed factual. Postings incorporating con®dent statements of opinion, such as ``I believe'', `I suggest'', ``It is my opinion'' or entries indicative of the writers a€ect were classi®ed as opinionated. When the composition of postings was such that factual information was used in support of the writer's opinion a classi®cation of ``opinion supported by fact'' was assigned. All other entries (questions, advertisements, inquiries) were categorized as miscellaneous. An example of a posting which was coded as ``opinionated'' follows: I would just like to let everyone know that (name deleted) is complete and total psycho ignorant idiot!! Don't ever waste your time auditioning for (name of city deleted) ballet you will hate life if you dance for this man. Life's too short to waste time on someone who will only cause you grief and frustration during the few years you may have as a professional dancer. The following excerpt was coded as ``opinion with fact'': I can't help but think of the irony involved, if Sammy Sosa wins the home run crown this year, for the National League. Last year McGuire had more than anyone in the majors, but didn't win the crown because he changed leagues mid-season. This year he broke Maris' recordF F F Just seems a little ironic to me. 2.4. Procedure Public electronic discourses on the six previously sex-typed topics were archived over a 2-month period. Eight randomly selected days were then isolated. The coding and content analysis was performed by two encoders (one male and one female). They were each randomly assigned discourse entries on three of the sex-linked topics for each of the 8 days. Inter-rater reliability was calculated by means of the Pearson product-moment correlation and prior to coding, coders were trained to encode the data until a signi®cant level of inter-rater reliability was achieved for each measure
  • 8. 388 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 (r=0.997, for word count, r=0.987 for gender of communicator, and r=0.78 for content). Inter-rater reliability was also con®rmed twice during each month of coding in order to ensure that reliability was maintained among encoders. The ®rst 25 postings in which gender of communicant could be determined were then coded for length, frequency and content. A total of 701 discussions written by 464 males and 237 females were analyzed. 3. Results The length of postings to the newsgroups were initially analyzed in an overall 2 (gender)Â3 (discussion topics) analysis of variance but revealed no signi®cant main e€ects or interaction. This may be attributed to violations of the assumptions of equality of variances of the treatment groups. This violation is particularly critical with unequal sample sizes such as those found in this study. Due to the predicted directionality of the hypotheses, t-tests of independent samples were performed to test each of the hypotheses. The ®rst analysis tested the hypothesis that men would write longer postings than would women. See Table 1 for the mean length of discourse as a function of gender of communicator and sex-typed topic. Male-generated discourse ranged from 1 to 2286 words per posting with a mean length of 105.1 words. Discourse produced by females ranged from 2 to 1108 words with an average length of 81.2 words. Overall, and congruent with the prediction, postings made by men consisted of a greater number of words than postings generated by women. A Levene's test for equality of variance was signi®cant (F=5.929, P=0.01) and indicated that the variances were heterogeneous. A t-test of means with unequal variances indicated that the di€erence between the means was signi®cant, t(691.45)=À2.07, P<0.05, two-tailed. A detailed analysis of sex of communicator by discussion topic revealed that there was also a signi®cant di€erence in the length of male (M=101.8) and female (M=61.1) discourse on masculine topics, t(183)=À2.65, P<0.01, two-tailed. No signi®cant di€erences were found in the length of discourse made by men and women when Table 1 Length of communication as a function of gender of communicator and gender-typing of topic (n=701) Gender-typed topic Gender Male Female a Masculine Feminine Gender-neutral 101.8 * 118.6 100.5 61.1* 84.3 95.4 All topics 105.1** 81.2** a Represents the average number of words in each posting. *P<0.01. **P<0.05.
  • 9. N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 389 writing on feminine and gender-neutral topics. However, the means were in the expected direction so that even on feminine topics (ballet and ®gure-skating) males' postings were longer than were females' postings. The second hypothesis predicted that men would post more frequently than would women. See Table 2 for the mean number of times in which communication was initiated each day as a function of gender- and sex-typed topic. A two-tailed independent t-test for frequency reached signi®cance, but opposite to the hypothesized direction, t(300.23)=2.86, P<0.01 in that individual women communicated more often on a single day (M=1.86) than did men (M=1.42). The gender di€erence, however, was mediated by gender-typed topic such that on feminine-typed issues, females communicated an average of 2.02 times per day as compared with men who communicated an average of 1.36 times, t(230.36)=3.06, P<0.01. Communication frequency was not signi®cantly di€erent for men and women on either masculine or gender-neutral typed topics but continued the trend for females to post more frequently than males. The third hypothesis predicted that men would produce more opinionated discourse. Due to unequal sample sizes and categorical data, percentages were calculated to assess the proportion of entries as a function of gender-and sex-typed topic that were coded as opinion without factual support, opinion with factual support, factual, and miscellaneous (Table 3). A chi-square test comparing the content of male and female postings indicated non-signi®cance. Not surprisingly for discourse in an Internet newsgroup, nearly 65% of the content was opinionated, either with or without fact for both males and females. However, in an examination of the percentages by discussion topic found among masculine-typed topics and genderneutral topics, male postings tended to be more opinionated without fact than were women's postings. While not speci®cally hypothesized, it is interesting to note that the total number of male postings (n=464) on these six newsgroup sites was nearly double the number of female postings (n=267). Even on feminine-typed topics, the frequency of male postings (n=101) was similar to the number of female postings (n=168). In Table 2 Frequency in which communication was initiated as a function of gender of communicator and gendertyping of topics (n=701) Gender-typed topic Gender Male Female Masculine Feminine Gender-neutral 1.52a 1.36* 1.28 1.57 2.02* 1.32 All topics 1.42* 1.86* a Represents the average number of postings by each individual on a particular day. *P<0.01.
  • 10. 390 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 Table 3 Content of posting as a function of gender and sex-typed topic (n=701) Opinion without fact Opinion with fact Fact Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Gendered topic Feminine Masculine Gender-neutral 38.6a 34.5 44.7 39.9 31.8 28.0 27.7 32.9 17.5 24.1 31.8 36.0 15.8 14.5 13.2 18.5 9.1 16.0 17.8 18.0 24.6 17.3 27.3 20.0 All topics (%) 37.9 37.1 28.0 27.0 14.4 16.4 19.6 19.4 a Miscellaneous Percentage of postings coded in each of four content categories. contrast, on masculine-typed topics, male postings (n=249) far outnumbered female postings (n=44). 4. Discussion In this study, we examined the communicative styles of men and women within a context where sex of interactants was not salient. Past research has consistently revealed power-di€erentials in communication and further, Matheson (1991) indicated that the mere expectation of the gender of one's communication partner in¯uenced computer-mediated social behavior. Thus, it was expected that genderpertinent power expressions would manifest during cybertalk. The length of postings, frequency at which communication was initiated, and discourse content (opinion vs. fact) were used as markers of power-related behaviors. We anticipated that male power dynamics would appear most clearly within the masculine and gender-neutral sex-typed categories. Hypothesis (1) predicted that men would generate longer postings and this ®nding was con®rmed. Men had much more to say than women irrespective of sex-typed topic. The two greatest di€erentials in the length of men's and women's posted discourse occurred, as expected, in the relation of masculine and (more so) gender-neutral issues. Since quantity of talk or length of holding the ¯oor is an index of leadership, our ®ndings parallel those of Walker et al. (1996) who found that when in mixed-sexed groups men are ®ve times more apt than women to assume a leadership role. Our ®ndings, therefore, support the contention that gender-based di€erences in behavior persist as they relate to length of cyber-conversation. Hypothesis (2) predicted that men would initiate discussions more frequently. Our ®ndings, however, were in the opposite direction. The ®ndings indicate that women initiated discourse more than men but particularly on female-typed topics. We suggest three possible explanations. First, women may have experienced a greater degree of comfort when interacting on female-linked issues anticipating that their cyber correspondents would be all female. Thus, power communication rules would not be in e€ect. Second, women may have demonstrated greater expertise in their
  • 11. N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 391 female-typed discourses. This latter alternative is supported in that women's postings were slightly more factual than were men's on female topics, indicative of feelings of expertise. Finally, the literature indicates that women's communication is socio-emotionally oriented and that women engage in supportive work to prolong the longevity of a conversation. Perhaps in the realm of Internet discussions, frequency of postings is the tactic employed to maintain a conversation. It is worth noting, however, that twice as many men as women participated in the six newsgroups. So while individual men did not multiply post during a single day, overall males dominated these discussion groups. Power behavior then is re¯ected in total male presence on these site and supports Cushing's (1996) contention that male rituals and linguistic patterns dominate the Internet. Third, we predicted that men would produce more opinionated discussions. We expected that women would rely on factual as opposed to opinionated statements and that the masculine and gender-neutral categories would be the arena for power play. While the chi-square test did not reveal signi®cant di€erences in behavior, the means were in the predicted direction. Men as compared to women were more opinionated when discussing male-linked issues and even more so, when the category was androgynous. The overall high percentage of opinionated postings for both male and females may have skewed this measure and we suggest a more precise measure of content of postings be developed. In summary, cyberspace has the potential to allow communicants to become disinhibited from sexualized bounds and explore true freedom of expression (Siegel, Dubrovsky, Kiesler & McGuire, 1986). One might hope that via cyberspace women and men could transcend the socialized constraints on their communicative expressiveness and adopt a more androgynous style of interaction. However, our ®ndings suggest that power-behaviors in communication, especially regarding length of postings and the ration of males to females in each newsgroup, have become intransiently socialized into behavioral dynamics, as Socialization Theory posits, such that discourse medium becomes irrelevant. Power di€erentials in communication still persist and it appears that cyberspace is a male-dominated atmosphere (McCormick & Leonard, 1996). On a methodological note, some limitations constrained our interpretations. Due to both the `®eld' nature of the data collection and participant anonymity, no information was known about and no control was made for race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status of communicators, use of aliases, and the in¯uence of personality on behavior. Drass (1986) examined the relationship between gender identity and verbal behavior in same-sex interactions and found support for the notion that behavior is indeed a€ected by one's sense of self. As a result, more androgynous individuals, communicating with both masculine and feminine communicative characteristics could in¯uence the validity of our ®ndings. We attempted to minimize such confounds through the large sample (701) of postings. Overall, this study adds weight to the theory that gender di€erences in communication are mediated by power and status. One might say that power behaviors which are socialized early in life, later become rule governed such that even in non-gender-salient contexts, we rely on gender power dynamics. Our results revealed
  • 12. 392 N.M. Sussman, D.H. Tyson / Computers in Human Behavior 16 (2000) 381±394 that overall men post more often than women, men engaging in power discourse communicate longer irrespective of the topic being discussed and deliver more opinionated speech on masculine and gender-neutral topics. Women, however, in a more narrow domain of feminine-typed topics, initiate factual interactions more frequently, perhaps indicating expertise rather than power. Findings of continued gender power di€erences have implications for the use of the Internet in both work and academic settings. Faculty who introduce Internet discussion groups as a pedagogical improvement, for example, may ®nd that male students predominate and dominate the discussions adding yet another context for gender inequalities in communication. Acknowledgements The authors thank Maury Silverman and Scott Sugarman for their assistance in this project. A portion of this paper was presented as a poster at the 70th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, 16±18 April 1999, Providence, Rhode Island. References Aries, E. J. (1982). Verbal and nonverbal behavior in single-sex and mixed-sex groups: are traditional sex roles changing? Psychological Reports, 51, 127±134. Bales, R. (1950). Interaction process analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Balkwell, J. W., & Berger, J. (1996). Gender, status, and behavior in task situations. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59, 273±283. Bell, J. (1998). News.newusers.questions: what newsgroups are and how they work. Availabe at: http:// people.ne.mediaone.net/babay/how-it-works.html (accessed on 25 January 2000). Berger, J., Rosenholtz, S. J., & Zelditch Jr., M. (1980). Status organizing processes. Annual Review of Sociology, 6, 479±508. Bischoping, K. (1993). Gender di€erences in conversation topics, 1922±1990. Sex Roles, 28, 1±28. Boser, J. A. (1991). Gender di€erences: let's see them in writing. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, Lexington, KY (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 341 980). Breshnahan, M. I., & Cai, D. H. (1996). Gender and aggression in the recognition of interruption. Discourse Processes, 21, 171±189. Briton, N. J., & Hall, J. A. (1995). Beliefs about female and male nonverbal communication. Sex Roles, 23, 79±90. Carstarphen, M., & Lambiase, J. J. (1998). Domination and democracy in cyberspace: reports form the majority media and ethnic/gender margins. In B. Ebo, Cyberghetto or cybertopia?: race, class and gender on the internet (pp. 121±135). Westport, CT: Praeger. Chmielewski, M. (1998). Computer anxiety and learner characteristics: their role in the participation and transfer of internet training. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59(3A), 791A. Cushing, P. J. (1996). Gendered conversational rituals on the internet: an e€ective voice is based on more than simply what one is saying. Anthropologica, 38, 47±80. Deaux, K. (1977). Sex di€erences. In T. Blass, Personality variables in social behavior (pp. 357±377). Hillsdale, NJ: Earlbaum. Deming, M. P., & Gowen, S. G. (1990). Gender in¯uences on the language processes of College Basic writers. Community/Junior College Quarterly of Research and Practice, 14(3), 177±187 (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ 413745).
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