GeriGündem Women’s role on the Internet
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Women’s role on the Internet

ISTANBUL - Women in Turkey use the net more interactively than men, as the majority use Web sites for shopping and social utility networks, according to a survey carried out by the BBDO advertising agency.

The survey has attracted much attention from Web experts as its results, which were published in the daily Milliyet last week, have suggested that men design the Web for men, and that women, as consumers, use the services for stereotypical female interests such as shopping and gossip sites.

"Gender wars" Ğ the much talked about survey Ğ shows that 63 percent of Internet shoppers and Facebook users in Turkey are women, a small percentage when considering the World Bank statistics show a mere 7 percent of Internet users in Turkey are female. The BBDO survey highlights that while females interact on the Web through chat rooms, online forums and blogs, men are more interested in business, entertainment, online games and purchasing electronics.

The outcome of the survey has been heavily criticized by Web experts, saying that this is yet another publication where women come out behind men. "Where do these figures come from? How are they measured?" asks Web consultant Gulseren Arslan.

"Many women across Turkey use the Internet on a professional level, and moreover, many women play a significant role in Web design and programming," Arslan told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Arslan said the figures show women are more interactive on the Web ahead of men, but this does not mean that they merely browse shopping Web sites and Facebook. "Millions of women use the Internet for business, news, and to partake in professional forums," said Arslan.

Arslan told the Daily News that the reason for fewer female Internet users in Turkey is due to financial and educational obstacles and those, especially in rural Turkey, who do not have the resources or opportunities available to them. According to Arslan, even people that have the means do not always have the resources available to them to develop their Web skills. "Despite such obstacles, women are increasingly launching their own Web sites and expanding the level of female Web-based entrepreneurship," Arslan said, explaining that her 50-year-old friend recently launched a Web site starting from scratch.

Web designer Gülsüm Öz, who jointly runs a company with a male partner, said she too does not agree that men design the Web for men. "Men and womenare considered equally depending on the type of Web site. Stereotypically women may visit more cooking Web sites and men more football Web sites as a matter of interest, but women have a more active role in the Web than the BBDO survey suggests," Öz told the Daily News. On the design front, Öz said she designs Web sites targeted at both men and women. "It does not matter which sex designs the Web site as long as they have skills in design and programming," said Öz, adding that more women need to be encouraged to enroll in training programs.

When asked for a male perspective on the survey, freelance Web designer Can Sozçu could not believe that the statistics for female users were so low. "This cannot be right, from the facts I have gathered from my own research, at least 40 percent of Internet users are female." Sozçu disagreed that the Internet is designed for men by men but said that women do mainly use it for shopping and browsing magazines about cooking. According to Sozçu, Internet usage is generally lower in Turkey compared to other countries but everyday it is attracting more users, and both men and women are using it as a part of their everyday professional and personal lives.

The Women Entrepreneurs

Association of Turkey, or KAGİDER, has recently launched a new business center that offers technical support for who are looking to set up Web sites for their own businesses. During the recent opening of the center the association announced that a greater female presence on the Web would empower women and their businesses as a whole.

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