Moving toward a gender equitable internet
Lavinia, a student from Brazil, doesn’t put a photo of her face on social apps out of fear that it will be copied and circulated in men’s private groups. In fact, 68 percent of women in our research across seven countries (compared to 49 percent of men) don’t use a profile picture that shows their face. Online threats—like cyberstalking, malicious editing and the fear of strangers sharing personal content without consent—can result in destroyed reputations and even physical harm. Because of these safety threats, women limit their participation online.
The internet isn’t gender equitable. Estimates show there are fewer women online than men in two-thirds of countries worldwide. Stories like Lavinia’s begin to tell us why. To understand why these inequities exist and how to address them, we conducted interviews and surveys with nearly 4,000 participants in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan over the course of a year. We spoke to people across the gender spectrum, including cis women, trans women and men. We wanted to represent diverse voices and experiences in our research. To protect participant identity, we use pseudonyms in this blog post.
In a new report published today, Towards Gender Equity Online, we’ve identified four areas that need to be addressed to move us toward a more representative internet: access, content and community, privacy, and safety.