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Saudi women and the internet: gender and culture issues

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posted on 02.02.2011, 09:36 by Maryam S. Oshan
The Internet plays an increasingly significant role in people's lives. Poverty of data and research on Internet use and users is probably one of the most significant factors affecting the understanding of the Internet use and attitude in a conservative country and society such as Saudi Arabia. The aim of this research was to identify and analyse Saudi university students' use of the Internet, with particular emphasis on factors associated with, and influencing, female university students' attitude toward using the Internet. A mixed method approach was used utilising a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research techniques. It included a questionnaire to more than 700 male and female university students in King Saud University which incorporated questions on web and email use as well as an adopted Internet attitude scale from Tsai et al (2001). This was followed by series of focus group interviews with female students on Internet gender related issues. The study found that demographic variables are associated with Saudi university students' use of the Internet. Gender was found to be significantly associated with students' email usage, chatting, and feelings about the web. Culture also affected women's reasons for using the web, choice of websites visited, and web activities. It also influenced reasons for e-mail use and non-use, and the people with whom they communicated using email. Females in Saudi Arabia face many challenges when it comest o Interneta ccessa nd use. These barriers tend to be somewhat different than those faced by man. For Saudi females it is more cultural (i.e. family restrictions, lack of time) and psychological (i.e. security and privacy, internet complexity). The majority of students had positive attitudes towards using the Internet. Female students were as positive in their attitude as male students. However, females had real or perceived difficulties in their ability to control their Internet usage. Considering the scarcity of previous literature in this particular context (Saudi Arabia), this research provides an original and comprehensive contribution to knowledge regarding Internet use and attitude among university male and female students.



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© Maryam S. Oshan

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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