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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 at 6:33 am

The Feminization of the Web?

By Holly Buchanan
February 20th, 2007

Is the Internet, created largely by techie guys, turning into more of a girl thing? Leon Benjamin thinks so. Here’s what he has to say:

In general, my experience of participating in online communities in the past few years is that despite their male dominance the posture, attitude and expression of these communities are predominantly female. By this I mean people are genuinely welcoming, offer unsolicited benevolence, guidance and assistance and freely give the most valuable thing that anyone can give; their time. This isn’t normal for other types of male dominated organisations.

To this day, I have no idea what particular combination of software, ethos and policies these networks have implemented, that attracts people to exhibit these female qualities online, but it’s basically changing people’s behaviour, and that behaviour is female in nature.

Both men and women participate in online communities. I don’t know if I agree males dominate these communities. Men and especially women enjoy the human connection these communities provide. This may be more of a right brain/left brain issue than a male/female issue – that’s what my fellow marketing to women expert Michele Miller thinks.

I would actually venture to say that rather than the Internet being “female,” it actually exhibits traits of the right brain. Recognition of patterns, tapping into emotional experience, the bonding factor… these are characteristics of both genders, which is why it works so well. It’s just that left-brain dominant humans (men) tend to think in terms of hierarchical structure, while right-brain dominant humans (women) think in patterns and “webs.” Men do this too, just not as quickly in everyday life (given that women have four times as many connections between hemispheres of the brain). But with the Internet, the right brain dominates. Men may think it’s “female,” when in fact it’s tapping into their right brain as well.

The Internet isn’t the only place enjoying success with right brain communication style. Look at some of the most successful brands out there. One of the most important things they do is create communities. Think Jimmy Buffet’s Parrotheads or The Harley Davidson Owner group or HOG. It’s about tapping into the right brain. It’s about connecting with other people. It’s about building a community with members who are, to borrow Leon’s words:

…genuinely welcoming, offer unsolicited benevolence, guidance and assistance and freely give the most valuable thing that anyone can give; their time.

Maybe being “girly” isn’t such a bad thing? Instead of ruffles and frills, think right-brain communication style whether you’re building a community, a website, or a brand.

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Comments (6)

  1. Online and Offline Advertising merging…

    The Washington Post published an article on how offline print media is being used to spike interest in Online Advertising Campaigns and I got the information care of GrokDotCom's consolidated RSS Feed."….This has led to the increasing popula…

  2. [...] Or at least it is more friendly to women than when it started out. Just take a look at this article over on Grokdotcom on the Feminization of the Web. [...]

  3. I don’t know why people think it’s bad for female to be online… but as a marketer, there might be a shift of how marketers persuades their prospect to buy their product (if this feminisation continues).

  4. Thank you for your kind words Holly.

    There are many ways of interpreting this change in behaviour, particularly in men. But something is happening and I suspect because the reality of these numbers of people connecting independently of time and space (location) is, relatively speaking, a new phenomenon. There is even a spiritual dimension. I believe one potentially huge outcome for humanity is the general raising of human consciousness on a previously unknown scale, brought about by the interaction of people in highly dense online communities. And it’s not about group hugs or love ins. But that’s another story!

  5. [...] The feminisation of the net The New York Times: Sorry boys, this is our domain Future Now – The feminization of the web? Maestros del Web – ¿Dónde están las [...]

  6. I appreciate your insights and the good information you have shared here. All points are significantly important for me and your article have helped me a great deal.
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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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