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Ono and Zavodny: Gender and the Internet, Revisited


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Ono and Zavodny - Gender and the Internet, Revisited

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Ono and Zavodny: Gender and the Internet, Revisited

  1. 1. Gender and the Internet, Revisited Hiroshi Ono Hitotsubashi University Madeline Zavodny Agnes Scott College
  2. 2. Background  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. 2008. “Immigrants, English Ability, and Information Technology Use.” Social Forces 86(4): 1455-1479 (June).  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. 2007. “Digital Inequality: A Five Country Comparison Using Microdata.” Social Science Research 36(3): 1135-1155 (September).  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. 2005. “Gender Differences in Information Technology Usage: A U.S.-Japan Comparison.” Sociological Perspectives 48(1): 105- 133 (Spring).  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. 2003. “Race, Internet Usage, and E- Commerce.” Review of Black Political Economy 30(3): 7-22 (Winter).  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. 2003. “Gender and the Internet.” Social Science Quarterly 84(1): 111-121 (March).  Cited 393 times (Google Scholar, March 2016)  Ono, Hiroshi and Madeline Zavodny. “The Internet and Gender.” Forthcoming in The Wiley- Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies. Edited by Nancy Naples. Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. 3. Gender and the Internet (2003) Highlights Q: Is there a gender gap in Internet access and use?  Backdrop. Early 2000s. Widespread concern that women may not be gaining equal access to computers and the Internet.  Methods. We use data from several surveys during the period 1997 to 2001 to show trends in Internet usage and to estimate regression models of Internet usage that control for individuals’ socioeconomic characteristics.  Results. Women were significantly less likely than men to use the Internet at all in the mid-1990s, but the gender gap in usage disappeared by 2000.  However, women continue to be less frequent and less intense users of the Internet.  Conclusions. There is little reason for concern about sex inequalities in Internet access and usage now, but gender differences in frequency and intensity of Internet usage remain. Controversy??
  4. 4. Gender and the Internet, Revisited  What’s been happening to the study of gender and the Internet since 2003?  Review of the literature  Identify 3 key trends
  5. 5. Gender and the Internet, Revisited Trend (1) Gender gap in access and use appears to be disappearing, but gender gaps remain in the so- called second digital divide, i.e. differences in range of activities that people perform online. Q: How do men and women use the Internet differently? Women have:  Lower frequency of use, on average (Haight et al 2014; Wasserman and Richmond-Abbott 2005)  Lower intensity of use, e.g. online hours, etc. (Hargittai 2010)  Narrower range of online activities (Joiner et al 2012)  Lower likelihood of accessing negative content, such as pornography and violence (Park 2009).  … Among children, girls are less likely to become addicted to the Internet than boys are, in the case of South Korea (Yoo et al 2004).
  6. 6. Gender and the Internet, Revisited Trend (2) Our behavior online is an extension of broader social roles, interests, and expectations in the offline world (Colley and Maltby 2008). Q: Why do men and women use the Internet differently?  Women are more likely to use Internet for communication and social support, such as email and social networking sites (Colley and Maltby 2008; Cotten and Jelenewicz 2006; Haight et al 2014)  Women are more likely to underestimate their online skills and abilities compared to men (Hargittai and Shafer 2006)  May reflect a deeper societal gender divide, where women feel less secure and less confident in their abilities, as in Lean In (Sandberg and Scovell 2013).  Women tend to be adopters and users of IT rather than developers and designers (Fountain 2000).  Women are less likely to be CIOs.  Women are less likely to contribute to Wikipedia (Hargittai and Shaw 2015).  Consumers rather than producers of information.  Deficiency in Internet skills, actual or perceived, may reproduce social inequalities.
  7. 7. Gender and the Internet, Revisited Trend (3) Gaps in information technology usage reflect, and sometimes enhance, pre-existing social and economic inequalities.  Mirroring of digital inequality and gender inequality in an international context (Ono and Zavodny 2007)  Gender gap in IT use is larger in countries that have greater existing gender inequality at the society level,  e.g. Japan and South Korea, compared with more gender equal countries, e.g. Sweden.  Social and economic inequality therefore carries over to IT use.  Pre-existing measures of inequality with regards to SES and demographics are good predictors of inequality in IT usage.  Mirroring effect between existing social inequality and digital inequality has been confirmed in a number of domains beyond gender  Immigration status (Haight et al 2014; Ono and Zavodny 2008)  Ethnicity (Mesch and Talmud 2011)  Parental background (Hargittai 2010).
  8. 8. [SOURCE: Hargittai, H. and A. Shaw. 2015. “Mind the skills gap: the role of Internet know-how and gender in differentiated contributions to Wikipedia.” Information, Communication & Society 18(4):424-42.]
  9. 9. Gender and the Internet in developing countries  Equal access may have been accomplished in the developed world  But it still remains elusive in the developing world.  Women are significantly less likely to access and to use information and communication technologies in the developing countries (Hilbert 2011).  Disadvantage is due largely to women’s unfavorable conditions in employment, education and health services in the developing countries.  Their lack of access to IT in turn deprives them of opportunities for advancement  Perpetuates negative cycle of gender inequality.
  10. 10. [SOURCE: Intel 2013. Women and the Web: Bridging the Internet Gender Gap.]
  11. 11. Gender and the Internet, Revisited  Earlier studies were descriptive  Main purpose was to identify and to monitor the gaps.  Recent literature is more reflective and nuanced.  Topic has become more interdisciplinary  Beyond communications and social sciences  Reaching into medicine, health sciences, among others.  Better data and more precise survey instruments  Longitudinal data, time diaries, experiments  Empirical evidence is more international, encompassing developing countries in addition to industrialized economies.  Gender and the Internet is engaging a broader audience and becoming a more mature area of research, both richer in context and more firmly rooted in theory.