Proceedings of the AoIR-ASIST 2004 Workshop on Web Science Research Methods
Digital Divide in Internet Use: Women Internet Users in Bangladesh
Naziat Choudhury, MSS Final Year, Department of Mass Communication, University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi, BANGLADESH naziat96 @ yahoo.com
Bangladesh entered the global computer network only in 1996 and naturally, compared to their male counterparts, women users are fairly new in the arena. Women make up only 20% of the Internet users in Bangladesh. The majority of these women users belong to the 19-23 age group and they hold a Masters degree. But the frequency of their use is very low. It is partly due to the high cost of access and partly slowness of the service itself. Nevertheless, the demand for the Internet among the women is very high. More than 88% of them reported that they would miss the Internet if its services were not available. It suggests that the opportunities provided by the Internet are having a positive impact on them.
In terms of profession, students make up the majority of the women Internet users. However, businesswomen and doctors are the highest users of almost all the services of the Internet. Businesswomen are veteran Internet users and they, together with doctors, constitute the group that demands the Internet most. On the other hand, housewives are the highest visitors to the religious and spiritual based websites.
From the available data, it is evident that the married women use the Internet’s serious features more than the single women. Average single women chat online more than the married women. Nevertheless, married women users’ frequency of use is high and therefore their demand for the Internet is very high.
Thus, there exists gender as well as class gap in Internet use in Bangladesh. The women Internet users, who constitute a small portion of the total users, are not homogeneous. Only the educated and affluent have access to the Internet, leaving behind the majority of the women folk. Such a disproportionate situation may not be helpful to attain female empowerment through the Internet in Bangladesh.