The results of a recent study suggest that women are less likely to share their work online than men. Now before you cry ‘sexist’, these were actual results of a study and the women involved actually expressed trepidation about embracing the collaborative aspects of web.
Men are overrepresented online when it comes to sharing creative work, according to a new report from Northwestern University. Researchers Eszter Hargittai and Gina Walejko found that men were much more likely to post their writings, photos, videos, and other creations on the Internet than women, despite the fact that they were equally likely to participate in such activities.
“This suggests that the Internet is not an equal playing field for men and women since those with more online abilities—whether perceived or actual—are more likely to contribute online content,” Hargittai said in a statement. “It appears that lack of perceived skill is holding women back from putting their creative content out there.”
Hargittai acknowledged that there may be additional factors at play that affected the (lack of) participation by women online. For example, women may have greater concerns over privacy than men—I know that my father attempted to instill in me a very deep-seated fear that anything I might post online could lead someone to break into my home and murder me in my sleep (so far, so good). Women may also be less confident in the quality of their work than men, although if this were the case, things may not be as balanced as they apparently are after controlling for perceived digital literacy.
Being a male designer and developer, I have no clue as to what could be behind this. My own girlfriend is extremely leery of the internet. The fact that she can’t control things, or even track who’s following what she’s doing freaks her out while I lifestream, tweet, and publish my way all over the gd web!
I know I’m opening a big can of worms here but this leads me to ask the obvious question, is this trait instinctual? Men, throughout history have been the primary hunter-gatherers while women have been the care takers. Obviously, not every man fits this mold, nor does every woman but it is the precedent traditionally. If you think of the web as the wild west, or some other unforaged territory, it would make since that women are more cautious and leery of being taken advantage of.
Read the actual study at Northwestern.