Women Maintain Lead in Internet Use

It was about one year ago when Jupiter Media Metrix found that women had surpassed men in terms of their numbers online, and that has only continued in 2001.

Women over the age of 18 comprise 40.9 percent of all online users, up from 40.3 percent in May 2000 and 39.3 percent in May 1999. By contrast, men 18 and older now account for 39.8 percent of all online users, down from 40.1 percent in May 2000 and 45.7 percent in May 1999.

“Women continue to tip the scale when it comes to their representation online,” said Doug McFarland, president of Media Metrix. “It’s been a year since women have leveled the field, but the ratings show that they’re not through yet. Marketers and online advertisers must not lose site of this important demographic as it continues to shift the online landscape.”

The largest shift in gender composition over the past two years occurred among people over the age of 35. The number of females age 35 to 54 increased from 19.0 percent in May 1999 to 20.1 percent in May 2001, while males in that age bracket dropped from 20.7 percent to 15.6 percent over the same period. The composition of females 55 and over increased from 2.6 percent in May 1999 to 4.7 percent in May 2001, while the composition of males in that age bracket increased less drastically from 4.4 percent in May 1999 to 5.3 percent in May 2001.

Digital Media Users by Age/Gender
Combined home & work
May 1999 May 2000 May 2001
Males 18+ 45.7% 40.1% 39.8%
Females 18+ 39.3% 40.3% 40.9%
Males 18-24 8.1% 8.0% 8.7%
Females 18-24 8.6% 6.6% 6.8%
Males 25-34 12.5% 10.2% 10.1%
Females 25-34 9.4% 10.7% 9.3%
Males 35-54 20.7% 17.3% 15.6%
Females 35-54 19.0% 18.7% 20.1%
Males 55+ 4.4% 4.5% 5.3%
Females 55+ 2.6% 4.2% 4.7%
Source: Jupiter Media Metrix

While more women may be using the Internet, men are using it more often. According to data from Nielsen//NetRatings, men spend 16 percent more time online every month than women. In May 2001, they also viewed 31 percent more pages and went online 11 percent more often than women.

“The Internet glass ceiling has long ago shattered,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of eCommerce at NetRatings. “The average man is no more likely to be online than the average woman when it comes to home surfing. The number of women online statistically mirrors the gender breakdown of the current U.S. population.”

May 2001 Gender Breakdown
At-home users
Gender Composition Unique
Number of
Male 48.3% 49.83 million 10:23:51 20 760
Female 51.7% 53.33 million 8:56:01 18 580
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

Men still maintain their lead in the wireless world. According to a survey conducted for Cingular Wireless by International Communications Research, men use their cell phones an average of 372 minutes a month, compared to an average of 275 minutes per month for women. Slightly more than 20 percent of of men use 600 minutes a month or more on their cell phones, compared to only 9.9 percent of women.

Women do use their wireless phones to talk to friends and family more than men do. Seventy-eight percent of conversations by females are for friendly chat, compared to 64.5 percent for men. Men say that 33 percent of their conversations are for business, compared to 20 percent of women.

While wireless Internet access is still in its infancy, both sexes are connecting equally. About 1.7 percent of men’s calls are used to connect to the Internet, while women use about 1.6 percent of their wireless minutes to connect to the Internet.

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