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It brings together research findings and speculations that bear on the claims listed above, and interprets the available evidence in relation to the larger question of whether and if so, how gender and power relations are affected in and through Internet communication. The body of evidence taken as a whole runs counter to the claim that gender is invisible or irrelevant on the Internet, or that the Internet equalizes gender-based power and status differentials.
Specifically, the Internet has been claimed to lead to greater gender equality, with women, as the socially, politically, and economically less powerful gender, especially likely to reap its benefits. Text-based computer-mediated communication, with its lack of physical and auditory cues, makes the gender of online communicators irrelevant or invisible, allowing women and men to participate equally, in contrast with traditional patterns of male dominance observed in face-to-face conversations (Danet, 1998; Graddol & Swann, 1989). As a network connecting geographically-dispersed users, the Internet empowers women and members of other traditionally subordinate groups to find community and organize politically in pursuit of their own interests (Balka, 1993). The World Wide Web allows women to self-publish and engage in profitable entrepreneurial activity on a par with men (Rickert & Sacharow, 2000). At the same time, limited trends towards female empowerment are identified, alongside disadvantages of Internet communication that affect both women and men. The immediately following section considers gender in relation to issues of Internet access, both for users and creators of online resources. Basic access is a prerequisite to online participation, and those who create resources enjoy greater power to promote their agendas. S., women and men still do not have equal access to the creation and control of what takes place on the Internet. Writing in the body: Gender (re)production in online interaction. Roles that require technical expertise, such as network administrator, are disproportionately filled by men, consistent with the traditional association of technology with masculinity (Wajcman, 1991).
The increasing popularization and commercialism of the Internet since the advent of the World Wide Web has brought with it ubiquity, easy-to-use graphical interfaces, and mainstream content (e.g., news, online shopping), making the Internet a safer, more familiar-seeming place.