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A new study reveals how the digital gender gap in Spain is larger than the European average. Presented in the journal Reis, the study investigated the use and frequency of the Internet in Spain and 30 other European countries. The findings indicate that Spanish men use the Internet more frequently than Spanish women do.
Compared with the average of all 31 nations, Spanish men rank 17th and Spanish women rank 19th. This puts Spain under the average in Europe for information and communication technologies (ICT) use. With respect to the level of gender equality in the digital world, Spain fares even worse by ranking 20th.
'Spanish men and women score lower than the European average on ICT use,' explains Juan Martín Fernandez from the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain and one of the authors of the study. 'For women, internet use frequency is lower than that of men and the gender gap is wider than the European average.'
The countries that report the highest levels of ICT use along with the smallest gender gap are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, followed by France and Slovenia, with the Netherlands just behind. With respect to Germany, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, users in these countries score low in gender equality despite reporting high ICT activity.
Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia rank somewhere in the middle of the road, with Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania just behind. Belgium and Poland post high levels of gender equality in Internet use but not when it comes to society at large. Joining Spain in lower Internet use and gender equality are Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Women in Spain rank just above the average in Internet use when it is linked with specific areas, namely: public administration, leisure, employment, health and education.
'Women in Spain come in lower than average of internet use and frequency on far more occasions,' says Dr Fernandez, 'so much so that this far outweighs the few occasions in which they come in higher than the European average.'
He goes on to say that equality, frequency and integration of ICT uses come hand in hand. 'Sometimes it is thought that with the extension of infrastructures and the passing of time, the gap will be bridged. Our results show that this is not the case. Active and encouraging policy is required in order to overcome this inequality,' Dr Fernandez concludes.
Earlier this year, Internet World Stats reported that the EU had more than 338 million Internet users, with a penetration population of 67.3%. This figure is much higher than the rest of the world, which had a penetration population of 27.3%.
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Complutense University of Madrid:
Castaño, C., et al. (2011). 'La brecha digital de género en España y Europa: medición con indicadores compuestos', Reis, 136,127-140.
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