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Gender Gap in Online Usage

The internet is radically transforming the way consumers purchase. But how much do we know about the internet use between the genders and what their future media preferences are likely to be? The following studies showcase the gender gap online.

Online, men visit more sites and stay longer than females. November 2008, Nielsen Online Report showed that the average time spent online was 4.4 hours longer for males than females. Nielsen also found that men prefer user-generated video sites (like YouTube) while women take more of a liking to video streams of TV shows (such as those offered from Hulu).

Nielsen Online

In addition, men are more mobile-avid users of laptops, wireless broadband connections and mobile phones. For men, online shopping behavior is more goal-oriented, much like offline trips to a store. Men are not as bothered by sites cluttered with ads and do not abandon them as quickly as women do. Men are as engaged in social media as women are, and most are not put off by the companies and brands they find there.

A Gallup poll found 53% of males spent more than 1 hour per day on the Internet, compared with just 42% of females. By contrast, more females reported being online for an hour or less per day, 19% versus 15% of males.

Gallup Poll

In addition, the online marketplace mirrors the US population with males being the minority online. eMarketer estimating there are 95.9 million males online in 2009, or 48.2% of the Internet population, compared with 103.2 million females. That’s a big change from the early days of the Internet, when males dominated. As recent as 1997, men made up three-quarters of Internet users.

Gender Gap Online

The figures are important because gender, even more than race or ethnicity, is a distinguishing factor of how consumers use the Internet, informing online behavior and attitudes. Keep in mind however, that gender is only one of the variables that may explain why people use the Internet in different ways. Other important factors include socio-economic circumstances, age, location, education, cultural background, employment, social networks, and access to the required technology.


Sallie Burnett
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