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The social construct of gender is laced throughout society and carries stereotypes through the use of language, arts, literature, and social practices. As more women begin using computers more frequently and in new ways, stereotypes become evident in the patterns of communication in cyberspace. One of the characteristics of computer-mediated communication (CMC) is its lack of easy social contextualization. Despite the anonymity of the communication media, some women report that they are harassed and intimidated from posting and particulating in on-line conferences or via e-mail. To avoid this, some women choose gender-neutral user identifications and prefer to post in women-only conferences or mailing lists. The social implications of computer-mediated communication are vast, from its potential ability to overthrow centralized control of information to its potential ability to help people to communicate with each other with fewer prejudices and misunderstandings. Although there are increasing numbers of women who are actively using cyberspace, it remains male-dominated, and most training materials for the computer environment are written by males. An extensive review of online World Wide Web page design documents revealed that the topic of gender representation in language and general page designs was not addressed. In order to reach a balance of language and imagery in cyberspace, a neutral area is needed where stereotypes come to rest. (AEF)

Descriptors: Computer Mediated Communication, Females, Gender Issues, Internet, Listservs, Nonprint Media, Sex Bias, Sex Role, Social Influences, Stereotypes

Autor: Mahoney, Judy E.; Knupfer, Nancy Nelson


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