Date of Original Version

2001

Type

Article

Abstract or Description

Do the gender differences found when men and women maintain personal relationships in person and on the phone also emerge when they use electronic mail? Alternately, does email changes these ways of interacting? We explore the types of relationships women and men maintain by e-mail, differences in their e-mail use locally and at a distance, and differences in the contents of messages they send. Our findings are based on both qualitative and quantitative data collected over a four-year period. These data suggest that using e-mail to communicate with relatives and friends replicates pre-existing gender differences. Compared to men, women find e-mail contact with friends and family gratifying. Women are more likely than men to maintain kin relationships by e-mail. Women’s messages sent to people far away are more filled with personal content, and are more likely to be exchanged in intense burst. They are more likely than men to use e-mail to keep in touch with people who live far away. The fit between women's expressive styles and the features of e-mail seems to be making it especially easy for women to expand their distant social networks

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