WMU News

What women want

March 24, 2000

From Lipman Hearne's "Net Results"

When Sigmund Freud first uttered his famous question, "What do women want?" it's possible he didn't really want to know the answer. But today, plenty of Webmasters and Internet entrepreneurs are asking the same question -- and you can bet they really do want the answers.

That's because women are an emerging force on the Internet. While the old gender gap persists in places like Germany and France, where just 30 percent of all Internet users are female, women constitute nearly half of the U.S. Internet audience -- and they're expected to spend as much as $53 billion a year online by 2003. Leading the charge are American women business owners: 57 percent of women owners who have Internet access have made online purchases, compared to just 40 percent of women employees who have access. In fact, at home, more than half of these women are responsible for choosing the household Internet service provider.

Nonetheless, there are still gaps -- in the sites the genders visit, in their purchasing patterns, and in the concerns they express. According to recent Nielsen ratings, men tend to visit news sites, while women prefer health and lifestyle sites. Women spend shorter amounts of time online -- a gap that is rapidly widening. Women are also less likely than men to buy or donate online, and they're more likely to express concerns about privacy.

The preceding article was published in "NET Results," Lipman Hearne's Monthly New Media Report, March 22, 2000, and is reprinted in WMU News by permission of the publisher.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 616 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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