Survey Finds Women “Always ‘On’ ”

by Mayra Ruiz McPherson on May 20, 2011

A recent survey by the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW FOUNDATION) in Washington DC announced the results of their 2011 women and broadband survey at the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s 20th Annual National Microenterprise Conference.

The survey results, based on answers from 1,400 online participants, found that women continue to use high-speed technology as a critical component of building their businesses and advancing their careers.

Is this of any surprise to you? I would hope not!

I think I can safely say that many, many of my fellow women peers, friends and colleagues (and they know who they are, wink wink!) are women who are frequently online, checking emails, blogs, social networks, web sites and the like on a regular, multiple-times-a-day basis.

In my own world, I can tell you right now that I’d much rather live without television than be without a connection to the Internet. It is not uncommon to find me online at weird hours of the early morning or late, late at night in addition to being online during core business hours. And weekends are not exactly free from my online usage either.

Sometimes, I will admit, my eyeballs get a bit glassy from staring at the computer monitor for long, extended periods and I do reach points of hyper-Internet consumption. But still, I can safely say that being online for me is just as much a part of who I am today as anything else you might associate with me.

So back to the survey …

While I was not surprised that many, many women are “on” both at the workplace and at home, the survey did identify one component which caused me slight pause: most respondents confess that they do not have the necessary tools or knowledge to most efficiently utilize the Internet.

At first, I found that survey finding to be of high interest and even slight bewilderment.

How can it be that in this day and age, women feel they do not have the necessary tools or knowledge to “efficiently utilize the Internet?” What is missing for them to feel this way?

When I looked at the survey demographics, I realized that 66% of those surveyed are considered “mature workers” over the age of 50 in comparison to 23% polled who were under 35 years old.

Generally speaking, one tends to think this more mature age group is not as Internet savvy as, say, Gen X’ers or Gen Y’ers. Could these more mature demographics be at least part of the reason why the survey findings lean as they do?

I’m not sure. 25% of survey respondents live in rural areas … but should that really matter?? I was just so intrigued in how geo-location might impact a woman’s ability to feel she is not as fluent or as well versed with the Internet as she should or could be.

I guess I can’t help but wonder what additional tools and specific knowledge are needed for women to further maximize their usage of the Web. In my profession of interactive marketing and social business, I often come across tools that help you maximize your social outreach or improve your outbound email communications, etc. but as far as I can tell, I have not yet come across any tools or additional knowledge to help me improve my usage of the Internet.

I share this here not to be sarcastic; I’m actually really curious about this and hope that if anyone has any input or thoughts on this matter that we can continue this conversation in the blog comments.

Despite my intrigue about this topic, Deborah Frett, CEO of Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, says this survey “brings attention to the tremendous advancements that broadband access has brought to women, women-owned businesses, and women’s everyday lives … but the results also demonstrate that there is a critical need for  continued efforts to educate women on how to better and more efficiently utilize high-speed technology to empower them to remain competitive in the workplace, in their own businesses, and in their personal lives in this growing digitally-based economy.”

Clearly, ongoing education of any kind is invaluable. And if there is specific eduction to assist women to leverage their usage of the Internet, it should be identified and pursued with passion.

As Frett suggests, remaining competitive and informed is key. And for women who regularly use high-speed technology as a critical component of building their businesses and advancing their careers, it is imperative to keep up with trends and the rapid technology changes impacting the Web.

What are your thoughts about women and their reliance of the Internet for professional advancement? Leave a comment and let me know!

BTW, to access the survey and its findings, please visit: http://www.bpwfoundation.org/documents/uploads/BPWF_BroadbandTechnology_FINAL.pdf

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Image: jko contreras via Flickr, Creative Commons

Mayra Ruiz is founder of Ruiz McPherson Communications, a social media influence and digital marketing service based in historic Charles Town, West Virginia. With more than 15 years of hands-on marketing, communications and PR experience, Mayra leads her clients forward on all aspects of creative direction, online promotion and marketing communications with innovation, passion and gusto.  When offline, Mayra enjoys “old fashioned” non-techy stuff like cooking, sewing and collecting vintage treasures from area antiques stores. She can be reached at www.twitter.com/mayraruiz orwww.twitter.com/ruizmcpherson (her marketing practice).

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