Women in IT: Italian girls more active than boys in the Web 2.0, a survey shows
The increasing difference between girls and boys in the consumption of cultural goods (books, movies, music, theatre, etc.) has now been extended also to internet: girls are more frequent users than boys, a survey carried out in Italy among the Italian population shows. The study, conducted in 2007 and 2008 by ACNielsen on the behalf of the Osservatorio sui contenuti digitali (Observatory on digital contents), indicates that young women aged 14 to 24 year-old make a more intensive use of Web 2.0 than their male peers, as they have wider cultural interests.
Although men and boys are traditionally keener on technology, today with the new tools and possibilities offered by the development of Web 2.0, not only technical knowledge and technological curiosity are important but also the production of content. In fact blogs, wikis, social networks, videos and pictures sharing, etc. do not only require ICT skills but also to have something to say.
Italian girls spend more time in reading books (17% against 10% of boys), watching movies (21% against 12%), going to the theatre (14% against 8%), listening to music (62% against 46%) and going to museums and exhibits (27% against 20%). This trend is now the same in the Web 2.0: 43% of girls aged 14 to 19 year-old frequently use blogs, social networks, etc., while only 35% of boys do it, as well as 28% of girls aged 20 to 24 year-old against 19% of their male peers.
These figures are in sharp contrast with girls' declining interest in IT studies and careers, as highlighted during the debate ‘Women in IT’ held in Paris last July. Discussions during the event, organised by Microsoft in collaboration with UNESCO, European Schoolnet, INSEAD and the Women’s Forum, showed that in spite of interventions and programmes launched to counter this negative trend, the imbalance remains indeed significant.
Moreover, even if the historical digital divide between women and men has at least disappeared, the ACNielsen survey shows a new cultural divide growing in young Italian generations. Two new types of users are emerging: the "eclectics" and the "technofans". The former are those who, thanks to their education and personal resources, have the skills to actively use ICT in order to achieve their personal targets and to satisfy their needs. The latter just manage passively the technical use of the new ICT tools: they are attracted by the latest "brand new" device, keeping up with the trends, but they don't know how to deal with content.
Given the lack of a proper ICT education at school, it is up to the family to help Italian youngsters make their way through the net.
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