The Gender Divide and Web 2.0 Applications

In 2004 one the hottest new terms in pop culture was “Web 2.0”. Coined by Tim O’Reilly, the phrase describes the new generation of World Wide Web sites that allow its users to interact, have discussions and collaborate with others. Web 2.0 sites include, but are not limited to blogs, wikis, social media sites, online games and video sharing.
Over the past decade, these sites have gained significant popularity, especially on college campuses according to the ECUCASE Center for Applied Research (2011). In the article “Gender divide and acceptance of collaborative web 2.0 applications for learning in higher education” (2013), Huang, Hood and Yoo assert that social networking use has skyrocketed from 65.3% in 2006 to 90% in 2011. In 2009 Jones and Fox found in their research that 75% of adults and 93% of teens in the United States regularly use Web 2.0 applications.
While there is no doubt that Web 2.0 is accessed by millions on regular basis, there is a concern that women may not be using Web 2.0 applications at the same rate as men which could detrimentally impact their learning opportunities as these applications are used in higher education institutions across the country as significant means of collaborative scholarship.
Based on the research cited in this article, women in general are less competent and technologically savvy than their male counterparts. Males tend to use the internet more than women. When women utilize the internet, it is more likely for email and school related activities and less for entertainment purposes. Additionally, women typically have a less positive attitude toward internet usage than men.
In their study, Huang, Hood and Yoo confirmed the results of previous research. They examined the differences in men and women and their perception of Web 2.0 applications and their utilities for learning tasks. They conducted an on-line survey with first year and sophomore students from a public, Midwestern university enrolled in an introductory level educational technology course. They found that while both males and females were anxious about the use of blogs, wikis and “immersive virtual environments” females had greater anxiety than males when using these applications and that they did not use the internet as often as the male students in spite of the fact that they had the same level of access as their male peers.
This research is very important as faculty members examine how they use Web 2.0 applications in their learning environments. Special attention, in my opinion, should focus on how the applications are presented to the users and the level of support available for students (not just women) in an effort to make the process less intimidating, more user friendly and more effective for learning.


3 thoughts on “The Gender Divide and Web 2.0 Applications”

  1. Great post, Tamara. I believe this kind of information is always useful in our blogs. Having a strong online presence is a must nowadays to market ourselves as professionals, so we should be familiar with the latest trends in technology.

  2. I have also read for my research, several articles that state that males tend to rate themselves higher than females in term of technology use and expertise. I personally don’t think gender gender (being male or female) can determine if you are able to use technology or not. So, something should be done for women to rate themselves higher or feel more comfortable with technology.

  3. If anything, I see more girls on their smart phones than guys in an round campus. Maybe it’s like Miko said..women just need to have more self confidence and rate themselves better.

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