Gender and Internet Access: The Great Divide

Table of Contents

 If you’re perusing the internet today, then know you’re enjoying a privilege, not every woman has — access to the internet. 

Over 200 million women and girls in the developing world are left behind as a result of internet access limitations. What if these ladies were capable of going online?

The internet access gap is enormous and continues to expand between men and women across regions and worldwide.

Who is online? 

According to a survey conducted by the Web Foundation, more than four billion people (60% of the world's population) still don't have an Internet connection. In the developing world, nine out of ten are disconnected.

This digital split is sometimes shown by graphics showing the millions of Internet connections in Europe, North America, and East Asia "lighting up" while Africa and South Asia wallow in almost all darkness.

Gender alone is an important issue. Women are roughly 50% less likely to utilize the Internet than males to monitor the impacts of education and household wealth.

That means that the image that emerges is not a pale digital exclusion, nor a pure digital development, but a severe digital inequality. Urban men connect at rates expected to be in richer nations, whereas the poorest women with minimal education are mostly excluded from the World Wide Web.

So what determines who is online?

  1. Education

Education is an essential predictor of how impoverished urban women utilize the Internet. Income control is six times more likely to be online for women with secondary education than for women who have or have no elementary education.

Of those interviewed, at least some secondary education is a staggering 92% of women who use the Internet. Only 2% of women without training are online.

 Only 6% fewer women than males are online among those who have higher education. The gender difference is 35% among those with high school, but it rises to 100% for those with primary education. Nearly ten times the number of men and women who have no formal education are linked.

 Education is also a crucial element for men’s Internet access, albeit not as strongly as women. Males who do not have formal education use the Internet 25% less than men who attend elementary school. Twice as many secondary-school males as primary-school men are online. 

2. Wage 

The poorer the people, the less probable it is that the Internet is used. Only 21% of females in the lowest income category use the Internet; the medium group consists of 39% females, and the highest group consists of 44% females. The connection difference between the sexes is least among the poorest and largest in the middle. But males are still more likely to be online at all levels of income than women.

What Obstacles do Women Perceive?

  1. Knowledge 

Overall, women identify lack of skills as a barrier to Internet use 1.6 times more frequently than men. However, with greater training, women's confidence in their digital skills increases substantially. 40 percent of people without or without education stated that they "do not know how." This is down to 9% of men and 18% of women with high school, barely 3% of men, and 5% of women with university education.

     2. Cost 

The second major issue of cost for unconnected women was "I can't afford it," or "it's too costly." Younger women between 18 and 29, especially women in the lowest income category, believe the cost is an issue. A Jakarta lady business owner said,

 "I want to learn how to use the Internet, but it still costs a lot [mobile data], and I'm not using WIFI in my neighborhood. Over one-third (36%) of males have identified costs as a key obstacle to higher usage, while 28% of non-users have reported this.

This male-female discrepancy might simply reflect an increased understanding of the cost of data amongst males. But among Internet users, 76% of women reported paying for their Internet connection (compared to 85% of males); thus, they probably knew the prices well.

      3. Infrastructure 

The fourth major obstacle for both women and men, who are already online, was the availability or quality of connection and energy to charging gadgets. However, as predicted, in areas such as 3G/4G coverage, the relevance of city-by-city infrastructural obstacles vary, most likely reflecting city-by-city differences; spectrum access; quality of service regulation; electrification supply, and access to free public Wi-Fi. In the research, Maputo (16% female) was the city, followed by New Delhi and Manila, where women cite infrastructural impediments (7 percent of women in each case).


      4. Access to internet-enabled devices 

Mobile telephone is by far the most popular means for women and men, and about nine out of 10 surveys had their phones (with little difference between women and men). Also, with 43% of women and 49% of men, the percentage of phones in both genders who have smartphones is extremely high. However, this varies greatly from town to town since women's internet use is likewise the lowest in regions with low smartphone ownership.

       5. Other reasons

I can't use the web, or it is unpleasant/unsuitable for me: In all cities, a negligible number of women and men mentioned 'appropriation' or non-approval as the main barrier. My privacy concerns me: I'm worried. Very few interlocutors in any town have said they don't use the internet because they are concerned about privacy.



 Digital women's involvement will also contribute to the catalyst of greater gender equality across social, economic, and political spheres, benefiting women and their communities and their economy.

 The gender digital divide will not close on its own. As we are all aware, the fundamental causes are complicated and driven by societal and cultural hurdles that only our collective drive can overcome.