Worldwide, 200 million fewer women have access to the internet than men, and that’s expected to widen to 350 million if nothing’s done to change it. In today’s information economy, that puts women at a socioeconomic disadvantage right out the digital gate – not to mention it creates an unbalanced economy that’s not doing society any favors. In fact, according to the report, if the world were to add 600 million female internet users, it would boost the global GDP by up to $18 billion.
Tim Sampson delves into the report:
In some regions extremely hostile gender politics are what keep women offline. In certain Arab countries, women are discouraged or outright banned from online activities, leading to the biggest gender imbalances in countries where Internet is relatively accessible. In Saudi Arabia for instance, nearly two-thirds of men with Internet access were engaging in e-commerce, compared to less than 50 percent of female Web users. Similarly, smartphone usage in that country has a 4:1 male to female ratio.
But even in the Western world there is a gender gap, albeit a smaller one. In this instance, the gap is blamed on more subtle hostility toward female Internet users. “[T]he U.S. access gap is entirely the product of socioeconomic differences between men and women, while the use gap is the product of both socioeconomic differences and underlying, gender-specific effects,” the report states.