Wired women taking over the Web

Men are losing their dominance, at least on the Internet. The gender gap has narrowed significantly over the past year and, according to Which? Online’s annual Internet survey – 45 per cent of those logging on are women.

The survey results, released today, shows significant growth in Internet usage throughout the U.K. More than 16 million Brits now regularly surf the Web.

“Our survey shows that most people believe the Internet is becoming part of our everyday lives. There are more people online, with a big increase on the number of females,” said Paul Kitchen, head of Which? Online. “A broader spectrum of the U.K. population is online than ever before.” Which? Online is a subsidiary of the Consumers Association.

A strange slump in the popularity of email was also highlighted. Only five per cent of the 2,044 quizzed chose it as their preferred method of communication, down 11 per cent on last year’s survey.

“The Internet is starting to dwindle in popularity – perhaps the novelty has just warn off or perhaps now people want something that’s even easier to use,” said a Consumers Association spokesperson.

The proportion of Internet users shopping online showed little change from last year, with around half (47 per cent) having bought goods over the Internet at least once. But, due to the rise in Internet use, this 47 per cent now represents around eight million adult users.

A study by Nationwide Building Society, released yesterday, revealed that, since the end of last year, a million women have started banking online. This compared to 600,000 new male online customers.

“The Internet has become a mainstream activity and so it’s not surprising that more women are making use of it. The days when the Internet was the preserve of the historically male, technology-minded minority are fast disappearing,” said Jim Willens, e-commerce director at Nationwide.

If this trend continues, Nationwide estimates the number of women banking online will equal that of men, when more than eight million people will be banking online.

Despite these statistics, only a third of the adult population has access to the Internet, with perceived irrelevance being highlighted as the man reason for people not to log on.

“As un-metred [Web] access packages spread and as users become more experienced the time we spend online is likely to increase. What was once extraordinary is well on the way to becoming ordinary,” said Kitchen.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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