All Change? Gender, Health and the Internet.

S. Wyatt, F. Henwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Statistical analyses increasingly suggest that women use the internet at similar rates to men and may be even more prolific users in the area of health information (fallows, 2005). Such analyses might suggest that there is, therefore, no significant gender divide when it comes to internet use in a health information context. However, more sophisticated understandings of digital divides would be alert to the dangers of such an interpretation. For example, kvasny (2006), following hargiatti et al. (2004), has distinguished usefully between ‘the digital divide’ and ‘digital inequality’, arguing that whereas the former refers to disparities in the structure of access to and use of information and communication technologies (icts), the latter is a broader concept, reflecting the ways in which long-standing social inequalities shape beliefs and expectations regarding icts and their impact on life chances (kvasny, 2006: 160). This hints at the need for much more ’situated’ understandings of internet use than statistical analyses can offer. With respect to gender, it suggests that long-standing divisions and inequalities—in health, in the home, in employment and in relation to technologies—may shape how people approach use of the internet and integrate it into their daily lives to engage in specific tasks and achieve specific ends. This chapter seeks to explain how gender and the internet are ‘co-produced’ in specific use contexts and how internet use for health information and decision making might be understood in the context of the discourse of the ‘informed patient’.keywordshealth informationhormone replacement therapyerectile dysfunctiongender identitydigital dividethese keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInforming Gender? Health and Information Technologies in Context.
EditorsE. Balka, E. Green, F. Henwood
Place of PublicationHoundmills
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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