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Electronic Communication Styles


Here's an interesting quote I found about electronic
communication styles of males and females. I'm posting
here in case somebody else is interested in the topic.


The University od Phoenix online division did a study
among students taking courses to find out how males
and females learned when online. The fact that
students had equal access to materials and instructors
led the researchers to believe they would see an
evening out of gender differences [Blum99]. They found
that, instead of leveling of the results, the gender
lines were even more distinctly drawn. These
differences were manifested through the students'
posting on a class bulletin board. While there were
differences noted in many areas, such as the sender's
position and writing ability, the most interesting
differences occurred in tone, domination, and

The tone of the female communication was inevitably
one of empathy and wanting to 'make a connection' with
their fellow students and instructors. To this effect,
they produced messages that were more elegant in their
use of language. They used 'tag' words and phrases,
such as "isn't it" - "It's cold today, isn't it?" - to
make connections with their fellow students or
instructors. Females also were more 87% likely to use
emoticons, such as <G> or :), to reinforce the
nonoffensive tone of their correspondence [Blum99].

Males, on the other hand, used a rougher tone in their
communications. Their messages contained harsher
language and often conveyed a sense of absolute
certainty. Their messages were far more likely to
contain a 'put down' of the person to whom they were
communicating [Blum99]. The University of Phoenix
researchers found that males tended to use these
communication techniques to exert dominance over the
learning situation, sometimes for a period of several
days. Only after a female had interjected a message
into the males' conversation did more females become
involved in the discussion. However, the study showed
that time and again, female input to a discussion was
stopped by a short male message. These messages were
usually sexually sexual or harsh in nature, tipically
containing a lengthy joke of sexual nature that
contained a female put-down. This not only stopped all
females from being involved in the conversation, it
stopped all the females from posting on any discussion
for several days. In this way, males in the group
'silenced' the females and took control of the
learning situation [Blum99].

An interesting side note, when some females attempted
to communicate more like the males, it did not result
in greater acceptance. These females ended up being
ostracized by both the male and the female
participants, and were thus shut out completely

From: Gender Inclusive Game Design (Expanding the
Market), by Sheri Graner Ray, (C) 2004. Chapter 5, 5.3
Electronic Communication Styles.


[Blum99] Blum, Kimberly Dawn, "Gender Differences in
Asynchronous Learning in Higher Education: Learning
Styles, Participation Barriers and Communication
Patterns", JALN, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1999.

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