The new century is bringing new changes in U.S. Internet users, particularly women, according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Issued Wednesday, the study shows that the American online population, dominated by men in the 1990s, has been evenly divided between men and women since 2000.
Moreover, the proportion of women online is nearly equal to that of men and young women are more likely to be online than young men. In addition, black women online have surged in the last three years.
How American men and women use the Internet, however, is different.
More men than women perform online transactions. While men and women are equally likely to use the Internet to buy products and take part in online banking, men are more likely to use the Internet to pay bills, participate in auctions, trade stocks and bonds and pay for digital content.
"Still, our data show that men and women are more similar than different in their online lives, starting with their common appreciation of the Internet's strongest suit: efficiency," states the study's overview. "Both men and women approach with gusto online transactions that simplify their lives by saving time on such mundane tasks as buying tickets or paying bills."
The study also says more than men, women are enthusiastic online communicators.
They use e-mail in a more "robust" way than men, using it to write to friends and family about a variety of topics such as sharing news and worries, planning events, forwarding jokes and funny stories.
Women are also more likely to feel satisfied with the role e-mail plays in their lives, especially when it comes to nurturing their relationships, using e-mail to include a wider range of topics and activities than men in their personal e-mails.
The study also says men are more avid consumers than women of online information, looking for information on a wider variety of topics and issues than women do. Men are also more likely than women to use the Internet as a destination for recreation.
Men use the Internet to gather material for their hobbies, read online for pleasure, take informal classes, participate in sports fantasy leagues, download music and videos, remix files and listen to radio.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to see the vast array of online information as a "glut" and to penetrate deeper into areas where they have the greatest interest, including health and religion.
The study says women tend to treat information gathering online as a more textured and interactive process -- one that includes gathering and exchanging information through support groups and personal e-mail exchanges.