As I shared over a month ago, Brandanew has been working on a digital media survey on Indian women online. This research was initiated in 2013 and the latest survey was to add insights to a large qualitative set of interviews that I was able to work on for the last couple of years. The hardest part of this research has been to disassociate my personal experiences of using the online space and see it objectively from the experiences of others. I’m glad to report that our research “Has Digital Media Altered Self-Expression” was accepted and I presented the findings in a Penn State/University of Fribourgh & Journal of Information Policy led Digital Media conference in Washington, D.C.
— Manuel Puppis (@ManuelPuppis) September 28, 2015
The event- New Media, Old Money: Digital Technology, Social Media and the New Challenges to Campaigning and Democracy was a by-invitation experts’ workshop to be held at the Swiss embassy in Washington. Our research was showcased in the “access” section of the workshop. I did not speak on the political aspects of digital media, but shared the social aspects of the narrative. Indian women was my research case study and viewed new media with a gender lens.
Some key insights that the research has brought forward have been:
1. Some current statistics: In 2018 the Internet demographic of India will be older, more gender neutral and more rural (IAMAI, BCG, 2015). However, the current gender gap in the digital media landscape is seen to be 27 percent ( Intel and Dalberg, 2013). India ranks 134 out of 187 countries in the gender equality index (GoI, 2011). 49 percent of women who are non-users of the Internet in India see no benefits of the Internet (Google, 2015). However, the ones that do use the Internet have seen growth opportunities (tangible & intangible) (Intel and Dalberg, 2013)
2. The top three reasons why women were using the Internet on an everyday basis
- To be in touch with people
- To share my travel/hobbies
- To see what others are doing
3. Top two reasons why women were sharing content online (e.g. on social media)
- To bring value and entertainment to others
- To define myself to others
Indian women are using the online platforms to occupy new spaces and contribute. However, the traditional stereotypes in media and the society are also converging in the online space quickly. Many women recognize traditional biases hold true.
Online experiences are altering offline behavior. These include exposure to new ideas, views and creation of communities that lend support
eCommerce and online networks are allowing women to showcase their assertiveness and decision making.
Women have separate offline and online (often multiple) identities. Women think of anonymity as a boon so that they can limit themselves to set cultural norms. However, they recognize that anonymity also allows for increased instances of online bullying and abuse.
While the actual experiences may vary, the overwhelming sentiment that the study does bring out is one of positivity and a sense of liberty associated with digital media.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brandanew for your digital media strategy and planning!
Research Framework: I used Intel’s framework of intangible benefits and analyzed impact based on: a) self-expression, b) identity, c) networking/ knowledge opportunities
Research method: Explorative interviews (impact on self, impact on others) between 2013-2015, an online survey (n=215) in July-August 2015
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