The American Sociologist

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 30–54 | Cite as

Adapting the internet: Comments from a women-only electronic forum

  • Debra Winter
  • Chuck HuffEmail author
Symposium On Electronic Communication And Sociology


This study examines the culture of electronic communication from the standpoint of a women-only electronic forum of computer scientists called Systers. Surveys completed electronically by 491 members of the forum are analyzed, and extensive quotes from their responses are presented. The respondents’ reactions to the culture of the Internet, and their comments on the segregated forum they have created in response, provide a detailed description of the complexities of EC and the social worlds it allows us to create. Their comments suggest that electronic communication can give undue influence to extreme opinions and can make it easier for sexual harassment to occur. It can also make it easy for women who are unwilling to involve themselves in mixed-sex forums to interact with each other in a climate they find more congenial. Thus, the technology may increase the reach both of those who make the Internet a difficult place and of those who wish to make it a safer place. One conclusion we draw is that basic patterns of gender based communication are at least replicated, if not magnified, in electronic communication.


Sexual Harassment Electronic Communication Interaction Style Office Assistant Discussion List 
These 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.the Department of Speech CommunicationUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign
  2. 2.Psychology Dept.St. Olaf CollegeNorthfield

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