I was chatting with Karen Skidmore today and we were discussing why women don’t take part in Internet activities as much as men do. I know that’s a sweeping generalisation but we agreed that on business sites, such as Ecademy, the bulk of the discussion is performed by men. Then we looked at Bounty which is frequented by first-time mums. This has an active and thriving online community, in spite of the fact that the participants must have more on their mind (with a young baby in hand) than contributing to an Internet site. So what gives women the incentive to take part in Bounty, but not Ecademy? For one, Bounty is clearly more “feminine” in its colours and approach. Ecademy is black and blue and very masculine in look and feel – in spite of the fact that it was invented by a woman (Penny Power). The fact that there are lots of men contributing in a very manly way, may also be a disincentive to women on web sites that include both genders. On Bounty, it’s clearly a women’s club, so perhaps they chat more freely because men are not taking part. Whatever the actual reasons behind the difference between Ecademy and Bounty, one thing is clear. If you are setting up a web site where you want involvement from as many people as possible, you need to take into account gender issues.
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