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Women’s Web

April 19, 2006

What would the world be like if socially conscious teenagers ran the show? One researcher aimed to find out.


A girl’s virtual world. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The stereotypical Internet geek is male, but social scientist Justine Cassell of Northwestern University has found that the Web may be more of a girls’ world than people realize. She helped create an international online community for 10- to 16-year-olds. The kids discussed global problems, like poverty and war, and then elected delegates to present their ideas in Boston. Remarkably, more girls were elected than boys. What’s more, the boys who were elected had adopted a leadership style more characteristic of the girls…

JUSTINE CASSELL (Northwestern University):
…being democratic and engaging everyone in the dialogue. So clearly this is a space where girls thrive.

She says this may happen because gender isn’t always obvious online, so kids can escape the biases of the physical world. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.