Washington, June 24 : Though both men and women equally engage in creative activities at almost the same rate and have an equal know how of computers, when it comes to sharing creativity online, men have an upper hand, says a new study.
The Northwestern University study, titled "The Participation Divide: Content Creation and Sharing in the Digital Age" was based on a survey of 1,060 freshmen from the University of Illinois, Chicago, which, according to U.S. News and World Report, is one of the nation's most ethnically diverse universities.
"Because sharing information on the Internet today is a form of participating in public culture and contributing to public discourse, that tells us men's voices are being disproportionately heard," said Eszter Hargittai, assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University.
According to the findings of the study, almost two-thirds of men reported posting their work online while only half of women reported doing so. However, on controlling for self-reported digital literacy and Web know-how, they found that men and women actually posted their material about equally.
"This suggests that the Internet is not an equal playing field for men and women since those with more online abilities -- whether perceived or actual -- are more likely to contribute online content. It appears that lack of perceived skill is holding women back from putting their creative content out there," said Hargittai.
She said that there may be other reasons, not measured in the study that can contribute to the above difference and may relate to lack of confidence in the quality of one's work or privacy concerns.
The researchers also found that men were more than twice as likely to share music on the Web that they had created or re-mixed than were women; and that men were also considerably more likely to post film or video they made when compared to women who engaged in film- or video-making.
"Much of the early research about the Web dwelled on accessibility and on digital technology's 'haves' and 'have-nots,'" said Hargittai.
In their survey of creative content, be it online or offline, the researchers found that on average two out of three men and two out of three women engage in creative writing, art photography, music or film/video generally.
"So while creative output, on the aggregate, is equally distributed among men and women, the sharing of such content is not," said Hargittai.
Of the 61 percent of the full sample who reported engaging in at least one type of creative activity, 56 percent said they posted at least some of their creative work online.
Surprisingly creative writing was the most popular type of creative content shared online, as it was the easiest content to post. Just over half of the students who report engaging in creative writing also reported posting their work online. Video was the second most popular creative work to be posted, at just under 50 percent.
"Video-sharing sites like YouTube make it relatively simple for people to share their own or remixed videos," she said.
The study recently appeared in the journal Information, Communication and Society.