“On the Internet, no body knows you’re a dog. ” Herring (2003, p. 205) mentioned this caption of a cartoon bearing published in the New Yorker (July 1993). May be in this age with the internet evolution it’s hard to know it’s a dog, but what about distinguishing user’s gender in computer-mediated communication (CMC) is it easy or not. This essay tries to shade the light on some of these gender differences in computer-mediated communication (CMC). This essay gives an idea about computer-mediated communication (CMC) modes and the gap between CMC expectations and the fact that there are gender differences in CMC.
Then it gives an idea about gender differences in traditional communication followed by exploring gender differences in CMC. First, it’s important to have an idea about CMC different modes. According to Herring (2003, p. 205), “computer mediated communication (CMC) comprises a variety of interactive socio-technical modes”. She gave some examples of these modes such as: e-mail, discussion lists and newsgroups, chat, MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions) and MOOs (MUD, Object Oriented), IM (Instant Messaging).
Dalampan (2006) classifies CMC modes into: synchronous and asynchronous (Figure. 1). The synchronous mode requires communication in real-time. However, the synchronous mode doesn’t require interlocutors to be online at the same time. (p. 59) According to Dalampan (2006), the field of computer-mediated communication (CMC) continues to generate interest from sociolinguists who are concerned with whether the traditional gender differences in face-to-face interaction are carried over into online discourse (p. 59).
The problem that all studies tried to investigate is the gap between earlier high expectations for CMC concerning providing an environment that creates equity and the fact that gender differences still existed even in CMC environment. Li (2006) saw that many educators and researchers had high hopes for CMC, believing that it provided more equal access to information and communication and would ultimately lead to greater equity. Also, Hendry (2001, p. 3) mentioned that earlier research in computer-mediated communication (CMC) found that CMC promoted social equity.
She explains that this could be due to predictions by many researchers that CMC would democratize communication and mitigate gender differences. Despite these claims that the relative anonymous communication on the Internet would break down traditional gender binaries, research has identified gender differences in computer-mediated discourse, similar to differences observed in spoken discourse. (Herring, 2006) In order to determine whether the language used by males and females in computer-mediated communication (CMC) reveal gender related differences or not, many studies were conducted.
However, according to Li (2006) research findings concerning gender differences in CMC are mixed. However, this essay will explore some of these gender differences in CMC in some related studies. Linguists have long recognized gender as a factor that may affect person’s linguistic productions (Baron, 2005, p. 8). “Sociolinguists have written extensively about stylistic differences they have observed between males and females in spoken and written language” (p. 4).
Based on these previous studies, Baron (2005) mentioned some gender linguistic differences such as: females tend to use more politeness indicators than males, whereas males more frequently interrupt woman than vice versa; in general, women tend to use language as a tool for facilitating social interaction, whereas males are more prone to use language for conveying information; on average, women’s speech reflects standard phonological, lexical, and grammatical patterns more than men’s does (p. 8).
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has attracted more and more researchers’ attention as a due to the dramatic increase in the use of the Internet in recent years (Li, 2005, p. 382). According to Baron (2003) linguists and other scientists have been studying CMC for we over a decade (p. 4). The essay now will give some examples for gender differences in CMC. Herring (2006, p. 4) reported a tendency for women to be more polite, supportive, emotionally expressive, and less verbose than men in online public forums.
Conversely, men are more likely to insult, challenge, express sarcasm, use profanity, and send long messages. Also, Baron (2003) listed some gender differences such as women tend to use more affective markers, more hedges, more politeness markers, and more tag questions. However, men are likely to use more referential language, more profanity, and fewer personal pronouns than women. (p. 9) A study conducted by Li (2006) showed that gender is a considerable factor in the context of mathematics and sciences learning using CMC.
Concerning gender communication patterns, findings show males students are more likely to present their opinions and explanations, but less likely to make specific suggestions; whereas female students tend to ask for a lot of information, but are less likely to provide explanations or opinions. Also, female students tend to initiate conversations, while male students are more likely to enter the dialogue at later stages and respond to previous discussions. Li (2006) presented a meta analysis for some studies in gender differences in CMC.
Her analysis provided answers for three main questions: first one, what are gender differences in users’ communication patterns in CMC? Results show that on average, female users had a significantly higher frequency of collaborative instances using CMC than males. Also, females had a significantly higher frequency of challenging others and were more personal oriented. Males, on the other hand, used more authoritative statements. Second one, to what extent do male and female differ in their interaction pattern in CMC?
Results indicated that, on average, there was a small but significant gender effect on users’ participation pattern, male users had a significantly higher frequency of posting messages or having longer access to the Internet than female users, also, male users have better access to CMC environments. Third question, who would enjoy CMC environment, males or females? Results showed that, on average, there was a moderate but significant gender effect on users’ enjoyment of CMC. Male users enjoyed more CMC environments than their female counterparts.
According to Bernard (1998), males tend to dominate group discussions, even when they are in the minority. They even tend to generate more aggressive and often caustic interactions to the extent that they often marginalize female communications to the point of being excluded from the CM interactions. Savicki and Kelley (2000, p. 817) examined whether men and women communicate differently using CMC. They found that gender composition of the groups is the variable that has the strongest relationship to communication style.
Results found that women in small task group developed a significantly different style of communication than men did using CMC with other men. They explained that women in female-only groups were able to overcome the limitations of the text-only format of CMC with self-disclosure, use of “I” statements and through directly addressing their message to other group members. On the other hand, they found that men in male-only groups ignored the sociomotional aspects of group functioning and were more likely to engage in a collective monologue approach to discussion with the addition of mild flaming.
Men in MO groups were less satisfied with the CMC experience and showed lower levels of group development. (p. 817) Herring (2003) (Baron, 2005, p. 15) found that on many-to-many asynchronous CMC mode (listservs and newsgroups), males tended to be more adversarial and to write longer messages than females, whereas females tended to be more supportive in their postings with shorter messages and more apologizes than males.
On the other hand on synchronous many-to-many CMC mode (chat and social MUDs and MOOs), males were more aggressive and insulting, whereas female had more aligned and supportive discourse. By studying IM conversations of college students, Baron (2005) concluded that there are significant gender differences in IM conversations. She found that male-male conversations tend to be shorter and have more of a spoken character, while female-female conversations tend to be longer and have more of a written character. Males use more contractions than do females.
(p. 14) On the other side, Dalampan (2006) added the context factor or dimension he concluded that males and females language use seems to be influenced more by the context of use than their gender this may be because both males and females in his sample were scholars so they were acting like scholars not as males and females. He also concluded that despite the claims of previous research that females used more linguistic qualifiers, hedges, and personal pronouns, the associations were not found to be strong.
(p. 65) Another study conducted by Abdul Kadir and Din (2006) shows that there are no significant gender differences in CMC learning mode orientation and learning style. (p. 50) At the end, however research findings may appear to be mixed but findings showed that computer-mediated communication (CMC) couldn’t eliminate gender differences as expected after all it is another communication environment. These gender differences are somehow similar to gender differences in spoken and written language.
Some findings didn’t show significant gender differences this could be due to other factors such as the presence of the instructor in the Dalampan (2006) study. Also, findings were different depending on CMC mode either being synchronous/asynchronous or one-to-one/one-to-many.
References Abdul Kadir, R. & Din, R. (2006). Computer Mediated Communication: A motivational strategy toward diverse learning style. Journal Pendidikan, 31, pp. 41-51. Retrieved March 16, 2008 from http://pkukmweb.
ukm. my/~penerbit/jurnal_pdf/jpend31_03. pdf Baron, N. S. (2003). Instant Messaging by American College Students: A case study in computer-mediated communication. Retrieved March 16, 2008 from http://www. american. edu/tesol/Baron-SeeYouOnlineCorrected64. pdf Baron, N. S. (2005). See You Online: Gender issues in college student use of instant messaging. Retrieved March 16, 2008 from http://www. american. edu/tesol/Baron-SeeYouOnlineCorrected64. pdf Bernard, M.
L. (1998). Gender Interaction Differences Using Computer-Mediated Communication: Can the Internet serve as a status equalizer?. Retrieved March 16, 2008 from http://psychology. wichita. edu/mbernard/articles/Gender&Internet. html Dalampan, A. E. (2006). Gender Issues in Computer-Mediated Communications. TESL working paper, 4 (2). Retrieved March 16, 2008 from http://web1. hpu. edu/images/GraduateStudies/TESL_WPS/10Dalampan_Gender_a17241. pdf Hendry, J. (2001).
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Gender Differences in Computer-Mediated Communications. (2016, Dec 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/gender-differences-in-computer-mediated-communications-essay