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Nonetheless, access remained a stumbling block for gender equity throughout much of the 1990s. Women were initially more reticent about using computers, less willing to invest time and effort in learning to use the Internet, and less likely to be employed in workplaces with Internet access (Balka, 1993). The fourth section addresses gender on the World Wide Web, from the phenomenon of personal home pages, to entrepreneurial uses, to mass uses of the medium. The final section identifies possible future scenarios, based on current and emergent trends, in an attempt to answer the question: if the Internet is not yet a level playing field for women and men, is it more (or less) likely to become one in the future? Cultural Formations in Text-Based Virtual Realities. Master's thesis, University of Melbourne, Australia. Given that slightly more than 50% of Web users in the U. are now female, according to one study (Rickert & Sacharow, 2000), it would appear that the Internet is presently no more difficult for those females to use, nor more intimidating, than it is for males. However, while the gender digital divide is being bridged in terms of who logs on to the Internet, at least in the U.
Roles that require technical expertise, such as network administrator, are disproportionately filled by men, consistent with the traditional association of technology with masculinity (Wajcman, 1991).
The increasing popularization and commercialism of the Internet since the advent of the World Wide Web has brought with it ubiquity, easy-to-use graphical interfaces, and mainstream content (e.g., news, online shopping), making the Internet a safer, more familiar-seeming place.
Moreover, a new generation of young people has been raised using, and feeling comfortable with, the Internet.
Setting up ones own bulletin board system (BBS), listserver, or Web site requires not only technical skills, but an investment in equipment, Internet connectivity, and time and effort for ongoing maintenance, which taken together, presupposes a high level of motivation and interest in the technical aspects of computer networking.
Women, given their lower numbers in fields such as computer science, are less likely to have the necessary background and motivation to do this.