Women Rely on Net for Work/Life Balance

The influence of the Internet on women has been illustrated in reports that reveal females over 40 years old devoting the most time per week playing online games, spending more money over the holidays, and surfing more. Now, a collaborative report from Yahoo Inc. and Starcom MediaVest Group reveals that the Internet has become a serious necessity as women balance their busy home and work lives.

Nearly half (47 percent) of working women use their personal Internet connection to conduct work during non-working hours, while more than half of the employed women said that they performed non-work related activities, such as banking, emailing, travel planning, during work time.

The qualitative and quantitative national study was conducted in two separate phases by Just Ask a Woman and TNS Media Research respectively. Just Ask a Woman held in-depth discussions with 25 women, ranging from 18 to 49 years-old, regarding their Internet usage and role the medium played within their lives.

TNS Media Research surveyed nearly 1,200 women in March 2004 in the 18 to 39 age group, and further segmented participants into categories: employed women with children (sample size = 312); employed women without children (300); at-home women with children (287); and at-home women without children (300).

As a result of the discussion groups, Just Ask a Woman identified eight different online personalities among females. Ranging from “Digital Cowgirls,” who indicate that they love finding new Web sites and will go online without a particular reason, to “Digital Shopkeepers” – women who have started e-businesses – each group uses the Internet according to their online habits, interests, and activities.

The study also identified women as “Surchers” – a surfing/searching hybrid that focuses on a number of their favorite Web sites. News and information sites were most frequently visited, followed by shopping, home/family, food/entertainment, health/beauty, finances/banking, games, entertainment/gossip, travel, and weather. Sports sites proved to be more popular than astrology sites to the women that were queried.

The study further revealed that female Internet usage came just behind time spent with family – 3.3 hours versus 4 hours. More hours were spent online by women than they spent doing chores or errands (2.6 hours); eating/preparing meals (1.9 hours); relaxing (1.9 hours); and time with friends (1.2 hours);

Compared to other forms of media usage, Internet time outweighed watching TV (2.9 hours); listening to radio (1.5 hours); reading books (1 hour); reading magazines (.7 hours); and reading newspapers (.6 hours).

If you were stranded on a desert
island and had only one of the
following as a source for news,
information, and entertainment,
which would you prefer to have?
Internet 65%
Television 22%
Radio 7%
Magazines 3%
Newspaper 3%
Source: Yahoo Inc. and Starcom MediaVest Group;
Just Ask a Woman and TNS Media Research

While it may appear as if the Internet has nearly replaced most other forms of media, Kate Sirkin, global director of strategic intelligence, Starcom MediaVest Group, observes that there is quite a bit simultaneous media usage. Just as 18 to 34 year-olds continually shift their coincidental consumption from foreground to background, women, and consumers in general, are also changing their media usage habits.

Generally, women are not substituting some traditional forms of media for their online counterparts, as Sirkin noted that only about 10 percent of women cancel their magazines subscriptions to read the material online. Instead, the Internet is supplementing some of the material that is available offline.

“Women are getting messages that connect all forms of media, with many ads pushing toward the Internet,” Sirkin explains.

Related reading