The new Web: US Women are overtaking men

Thanks to an online onslaught by teenagers there are now as many if not more women than men using the World Wide Web in the US

For the first time, more women use the Internet in the US than men, altough current figures are marginal, and they will continue to flock to the Net in record numbers for years to come, according to a new study.

Some 50.4 percent of Web users in the first quarter of 2000 were women, a five percent jump from 1999, according to the Media Metrix survey.

The number of women on the Internet has grown steadily since 1996, when they represented slightly less than 40 percent of Web users, said Anne Rickert, a Media Metrix analyst. "This is not a one year anomaly. This is a head's up, women have a very distinct presence on line. This is where they are going," she said.

Rickert said the most surprising finding is perhaps the more than doubling of Web usage by teenagers. Some 125 percent more girls aged 12 to 17 were on the Web in the first quarter of 2000 than in 1999, the survey found.

Web sites like cosmogirl.com, teenpeople.com and delias.com, the top three destinations for the age group, are "providing a platform for teen-aged girls", she said.

Nearly all female age groups increased in numbers, except for women between the ages of 18 and 24, which dipped slightly. Rickert said it's likely that the college-aged women are more focused on school and careers.

"This is one of the more elusive populations," Rickert said. "They are a little harder to pin down, a little more dispersed."

Unlike male Web users who frequent tech and download sites, women are flocking to sites that mirror their life stages, the survey found.

For instance, Web users between the ages of 2 and 11 are visiting entertainment sites like amandaplease.com, which is the official Web site for a Nickelodeon show.

Women between the ages of 25 and 34, when many are establishing households and having children, have flooded sites like babygear.com, ibaby.com and pampers.com, the survey found.

The most popular destination for women ages 55 and older is aarp.org, a site for users over 50 with many age-related topics covered. The top ten sites also include many genealogical sites like familytreemaker.com and familyhistory.com.

"Age groups that were previously invisible online are now establishing a presence," Rickert said.

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