iCircle, the latest offering from free ISP Freeserve promises to offer women what they really want from the Internet, while charlottestreet.com claims to make life easier for women busy with careers and families. The first women-only site -- handbag.com -- has clocked up over 100,000 visitors in the two weeks since its launch. All three offer similar content, ranging from health relationships, finance, travel and parenting.
According to Anita Bevan, editor-in-chief at iCircle, women are going online for different reasons to men -- looking for information rather than entertainment. "Men are surfing a lot whereas women are going to the Internet with a need, they are looking for a solution," she says. As a result all three sites make a big play of expert advice, with doctors, chefs and other experts on hand to answer questions. All three also have community areas where women can share information and advice.
Dominic Riley, managing director of handbag.com thinks women on the Net are big business. "Women are the fastest growing online segment and yet there are few sites for them," he says. He agrees with Bevan that women use the Net differently to men, keener on finding useful information than surfing. He denies that women-only sites are sexist. "I admit that handbag.com was designed and built for women but if men what to look over their shoulders and see what is going on, then come on in," he says.
According to a MORI survey in September, women now make up 43 percent of the UK's online population. US-based research company Harris Interactive predicts women will account for half of online shopping this Christmas.