Women rule the Web

It has been reported that there are now more women on the Web than men. Why shouldn't there be?

When I told my 9-year-old daughter I was going to write this column about a new report that says there are now more women on the Web than men, she looked at me blankly. "Why wouldn't there be?" she asked me.

Why indeed?

See, she uses the Web - at home and at school. So do all her friends. The idea that the Internet has something to do with technology and that technology is a guy kind of thing isn't a part of her way of thinking. She writes letters. She makes phone calls. She sends e-mails. She reads books. Goes to the library. Researches stuff on the Web. The Internet is what it is - another way to communicate and to find out even more things about Harry Potter.


Seems my daughter isn't the only girl who thinks the Internet is a worthwhile place to be. According to the report released by Jupiter Communications and Media Metrix, the number of women online surpassed that of men for the first time ever in the first quarter of 2000 in the United States. Not only that, but the study found the population of women online is growing faster than the online population overall. And the most notable increase by age group from 1999 to 2000 was among teen girls age 12 to 17, which increased more than 125 percent.

Now I'm sure a lot of those Internet marketing types out there will get their hands on the report and think - "Aha! It's time to start targeting girls and women. More fashion! More makeup! More diet advice. And of course, more articles like "How to impress your boyfriend" and "The star's secrets." After all, Jupiter and Media Metrix found the sites that appealed most to females 12-17 "remain firmly clustered around several key user interests: teen-targeted fashion magazines, shopping and music." The study had lots to say about where other age groups of online women hang out as well. Women 55 and over have the highest audience share within family, health, genealogy and joke/fun pages, they found. Meanwhile, women in the 24-to-35-age bracket are most highly concentrated at sites offering content, advice and community on childcare.

"As Internet users establish a distinct presence across virtually all age and gender lines, content providers continue to develop targeted Web sites that mirror the needs and interests of specific populations," Anne Rickert, a data specialist at Media Metrix, said of the findings. "Niche sites may not draw the most significant number of unique visitors overall, but they often boast a heavier concentration of users from key demographic groups."

Well, can't argue with the demographic data. But I hope that some of those Web marketers eager to rush out and build pink ghettos online stop and consider that maybe bucking the conventional wisdom about what women want may also be a marketing opportunity. Why not be the first to build a site that show girls that society doesn't think the only things they're supposed to be interested in are fashion and shopping?

There are lots of other girls out who think building a bird feeder out of an empty milk carton, peanut butter and bird seed is a perfectly fine way to spend the day. I know, because that's what I'm going to be doing with a group of them as soon as I finish typing this sentence.