For as long as there has been an Internet, men and women have used it differently. A recent ComScore report Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet revisits the changing and evolving behaviors of how women are using and engaging with the web.
The survey shows that in the last ten years, women have gravitated towards the web with gusto. From social media to online shopping to search and mobile, women’s behaviors online are not only unique, but global.
Where in the World?
Globally, women are still slightly in the minority, with approximately 46 percent of the global Web population being female. North America splits the difference between the genders, while women in Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America, are still underrepresented on the web. Countries with the highest numbers of women online include Singapore, the U.S., New Zealand, Russia and Canada, while India and Indonesia, surprisingly have the lowest proportion of female Web users.
Asia however reigns. Women online in Asia outnumber women in North America by more than two to one with China accounting for more women online than all of North America. Coupled together with Japan, South Korea and India, they account for more women online than Europe.
Time Spent Online
Though the amount of female internet users may be slightly less than the number of men online globally, the amount of time women collectively spend online is higher. In April, the global average was 24.8 hours per month for women, compared to 22.9 hours for men. Web users in North America spend the most time online, altogether, with men spend slightly more time than women.
Gender Role Defined
Women spend more time than men on social networking, educational and retail sites, using instant messaging tools and email. In addition, women are more likely than men to access websites for information that can be described as gender role specific, including parenting, fashion, greeting cards, and health.
The chart above ranks online categories by the share of women’s total online minutes and compares it to the category’s share of men’s total time online.
Engaging socially online is also popular with most women in the U.S. and Latin American spending more time social networking sites. In fact, time spent on these sites by women outweigh time spent by their male counterparts in every global region. Just like community round tables and knitting circles before it, the internet is a place where women can come together and stay in touch with people.
Interesting, women 45 years old and older represent the greatest proportion of growth for social networking sites, in terms of both visitation and time spent, while users aged 15-24 have the highest reach and the heaviest usage in this category.
As for what platforms women are connecting and networking across, it’s no surprise that globally, Facebook is where most women spend their time. Yet, regional sites, like CyWorld, are quite popular with women 45-54 years old in South Korea, representing the highest usage of any demographic group.
Women also engage frequently using Twitter, but the study shows that men and women use Twitter for different types of activities. While men are far more likely to post their own Tweets than women, a larger percentage of female Twitter users say they use the site to find deals and promotions and to follow celebrities.
Women spend considerable time online uploading and sharing photos. The study reports:
Women surpass men in every age group in both reach and time spent on photo sites. They were also much faster to adopt photo sharing when it first became available.
Women in North and Latin America are more likely to share photos than their Asian counterparts, who showed a significant lag in the use of Photo-sharing sites, which mirrors the relatively low reach of social networks there also.
Why Should We Care?
Of course this is a brief snapshot of the ComScore report. The full study provides more information about online retail shopping and other influencers of their time online. All this information is not just fascinating, but can be used to help those of us who design, create and build websites reach our target audiences, while understanding how their behaviors can influence what we do and how what we do can influence them.
Even before the internet, women have proven to be the driving forces behind key consumer decisions. From kitchen appliances to shoes to cars, retailers and advertisers alike seek to impress them knowing that if they can great influence a product’s success or demise in the market place.
In addition, it’s not just enough to sway women with clever slogans and pretty designs. Women are well-informed, savvy technologically and smart bargain shoppers. The mere fact that there are reports that compile our online behaviors is evidence enough that our impact in unique. Whether you’re launching a new content management system or glossy magazines, women need to feel included. It’s no longer safe to assume that our domains are exclusive.
This report coupled with the numerous other studies that give perspective to the ways women think, act and engage online should be devoured by the web industry and used to successfully target a population who are ready and willing to engage with your product.