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The Difference Between Girls and Boys...Online

By all reports, the online gender gap is nearly closed, and men and women seem to be using the internet in equal numbers. Indeed, in most studies, the percentages of male versus female users is closest in the teen years, and it is widely assumed that as Generation Y grows up they will continue to go online in equal numbers. eMail and other core behaviors are also on fairly parallel usage tracks. So, everybody can just stop worrying about audience fragmentation online by gender from now on, right?

Wrong. While "big picture" activities (going online, e-mail usage, and so on) tend to be done at the same rate by teen boys and girls, differences crop up when subcategories of online behaviors are reviewed.


Two specific subjects of teen's online activities, sports and shopping, yield some interesting gender-specific results when examined even further.

Despite the results of the Jupiter study, teen girls are using the internet for sports-related purposes more than was originally thought. When one expands the definition of what "sports related" means, the number of female users suddenly increases. 41% of girls aged 14 to 18 reported going online to buy tickets to sporting events, versus 17% of boys in that age group. In addition, in 2001 the Taylor Research and Consulting Group found that 78% of girls in that age group also reported going online "for sports related activities" such as watching game highlights or participating in online sports trivia games.

Shopping is another "core" online activity that shows more gender fragmentation in its sub-categories. Here, the results are a bit less surprising and a bit more stereotypical, with girls buying more clothes and shoes, while boys fill their online shopping carts with electronics and video games.


There doesn't seem to be an easy answer when trying to define what teens buy online. The lesson to learn here is that every category has its sub-categories and it is only by paying attention to the subtle differences in sub-categories that it can really be determined where the teen market really is shopping.

Jen Runne is eMarketer's eDemographics analyst. eMail Jen at jrunne@emarketer.com with comments, suggestions and questions.

Copyright, eMarketers.

First published on BankersOnline.com 4/23/01.

First published on 04/23/2001

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