Like a Girl

Some say there are more differences within the sexes than
between them, but the author of a new study on how men and women
use the internet draws a bold line separating Xs from Ys. According
to Deborah Fallows, a researcher for the Pew Internet and American
Life Project, men are ‘more aggressive’ online, seeking a variety
of information and engaging in ‘more activities’ than women, who
concentrate on ‘nurturing their relationships’ with nice, cozy
e-mails.

Annalee
Newitz ain’t buyin’ it
. Writing for AlterNet, she asks
why writing e-mails constitutes a nurturing act while socializing
through Fantasy Baseball and chat rooms (as men tend to) counts as
chest-thumping? Fallows, she says, forced her subjects into neat
categories to come up with a regressive conclusion to her research:
Women nurture and men hunt.

The good news is that if you can read through the ’50s-era fog,
the Pew study really shows that men and women use the web
similarly. Sadly, though, there is a difference in men’s and
women’s confidence as techies. Even though women were more likely
to watch videos, play games, use file-sharing services, and, yes,
look at maps online, they tended not to identify as searchers and
geeks, and were shy about trying new gadgets and applications.

So the rift doesn’t lie in how we behave; it’s rooted in our
perceptions of ourselves. In this ‘tragedy of gender,’ doubt might
make a woman believe she’s not proficient enough to test the latest
software or crack open her computer and examine the guts. But young
women are flocking to the web (those younger than 29 are more
likely than their male counterparts to use the internet), and
Newitz hopes their daughters and younger sisters can inherit the
savvy and skip the self-doubt.
Morgon Mae Schultz

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