Study: Female Population on Web Grows

The number of female Web surfers in the U.S. is growing faster than the overall Internet population, according to new findings from research service Nielsen//NetRatings.

The study suggests that the number of female users are growing at a faster rate than the overall domestic Internet population. While the total Internet population grew 6 percent from 2000 to 2001, the number of female Web surfers increased 9 percent.

Among U.S.-based home users of the Internet, women accounted for 52 percent of the total online population, or 55.0 million. Men accounted for just 49.8 million, up from 48.2 million a year earlier. Since last year, women have outnumbered men online in the U.S.

For U.S.-based consumer goods advertisers, the findings would seem to bode well for their efforts to reach women, who typically control most of the responsibility for a household’s spending.

The conclusions are also good news for e-commerce marketers, since earlier studies have suggested that the at-home population is more likely to make an online purchase, as compared to surfers at work. With more women logging on from home, there’s theoretically a greater likelihood for a site to successfully make the sale.

In reality, however, things might be a little more complicated. While they’re more populous online and growing in number, U.S.-based female surfers might potentially remain harder to reach than men.

For instance, NetRatings found that men use the Internet more often and for longer periods than do women. Last month, men averaged 11 hours online from home, 24 percent more than women, and 17 percent more than they did a year earlier. Women spent 9 hours online, up 18 percent from last year.

In marketing parlance, males also “consumed more media” than females during the month, viewing an average of 801 Web pages in December, 40 percent more than women.

“Men spent more time online, logged on more often, and accessed more content than women, despite being out-numbered by the female Internet population by more than 5.2 million surfers,” said NetRatings senior Internet analyst Dawn Brozek, who suggested that a dearth of leisure time was to blame.

“Generally speaking, women shoulder a majority of the household responsibilities and therefore, face a ‘time poverty’ at home, with less leisure time than men to spend on activities such as surfing the Internet,” she said.

Internationally, it’s a different story. The new findings come just a day after NetRatings released findings suggesting that outside of North America, most Web users are male. In fact, a majority of the top ten international sites attracted more men than women.

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