Locating Gender Differences in Mobile Use and Habits

Locating Gender Differences in Mobile Use and Habits

Beliz Donmez (Yeditepe University, Turkey) and Cagla Seneler (Yeditepe University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7885-7.ch003
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As an indispensable part of their lives, mobile has been playing an important role among undergraduate students in influencing their lives and academic studies. Although gender has been proven to be an important factor in distinguishing males and females in using the internet and other digital media, what are the gender differences in mobile use and habits? The authors of this chapter offer an updated answer to that question by surveying a selected sample of undergraduate students in Turkey.
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Today it is hard to imagine a life without a mobile phone. They have become an indispensable part of our lives. Besides, we are moving into an era when mobile devices are not just for talking and texting but also for accessing the Internet and all it has the offer (Pew Research Center, 2010). Besides, the mobile phone is no longer just a device that facilitates communication between two individuals; it is also a hybrid technology that integrates audio, video, and text with a display screen (Halder, Halder & Guha, 2014). The use of a mobile phone is not limited to speaking alone; it is being used in making a video, recording information, mobile banking and payment etc. (Halder, Halder & Guha, 2014). In contrast to traditional notions of the computer, the mobile nature of the cell phone allows these services to be accessed almost anywhere and at almost any time (Lepp, Barkley & Karpinski, 2013). The ubiquity and affordability of mobile present us with an unparalleled opportunity to improve social and economic development and positively impact lives (GSMA, 2015). Humans in this regard have become obsessed with mobile phones and Internet. It is perhaps one of the most important reasons for this obsession is to be able to handle your needs and access with only one click.

Gender divide in mobile and Internet usage have been widely studied in the literature. While mobile connectivity is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally (GSMA, 2018). Most of the researches showed that males tend to use more mobile and Internet technologies compared to females.

As reported in GSMA (2017):

  • Women on average are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, which translates into 200 million fewer women than men owning mobile phones.

  • Even when women own mobile phones, there is a significant gender gap in mobile phone usage, which prevents them from reaping the full benefits of mobile phone ownership.

  • Women in South Asia are 38% less likely to own a phone than a man, highlighting that the gender gap in mobile phone ownership is wider in certain parts of the world.

  • The top 5 barriers to women owning and using mobile phones from a customer perspective are cost, network quality and coverage, security and harassment, operator/agent trust, and technical literacy and confidence. Social norms and disparities between men and women in terms of education and income influence women's access to and use of mobile technology, and often contribute to women experiencing barriers to mobile phone ownership and use more acutely than men.

  • In addition to the barriers experienced by female customers above, two other key systemic barriers arose – lack of gender disaggregated data and focus on women’s access to and use of technology.

Women report using phones less frequently and intensively than men, especially for more sophisticated services such as the mobile Internet (Santosham, 2015). But why? Hypothesizing that men will be more comfortable with and less anxious about Internet technology. They have proposed a variety of explanations for these predictions, often focusing on technophobia—the idea that females are more afraid of technology and therefore slower to adapt to technological advances (Shaw & Gant, 2002). And also cultural and socio-economic barriers are the most common reasons for that. Even today in some countries, women still do not have the rights that men have. Therefore, it is clear that mobile and Internet usage habits differ based on gender.

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