Women on the Web

A Woman Works on a Computer ar Holy Cross College

Photo: College of the Holy Cross

Women, Academe, and the Internet: Bridging Distances, Building Careers

Internet technology has altered academic life. Faculty, students, and administrators meet in new cyberspaces, publish in evolving digital media, and connect over increasingly complex networks. These changes are not confined to academe: internet use has spread throughout the United States, and as America goes online, gender has migrated online with it. According to a 2005 report by the Pew Internet and American Life project, women, who initially lagged behind men in internet use, are now catching up. And women are using the net in different ways, particularly as a tool for facilitating human connections. But what does this mean for women in academe? How do academic women use the internet for career-building and networking? And how can internet use both enhance their professional lives and accelerate student learning?

This issue of On Campus with Women raises, and attempts to answer, these questions. The Internet is ever-evolving; its effect on academic careers remains to be established and continues to be contested. Online publishing may not yet hold the weight of traditional publishing in discussions of tenure review. Blogging, while potentially a tool for networking and career building, requires a certain restraint from professors whose posts could shed public light on their private lives. Yet our investigation shows that with a little self-awareness and a lot of tenacity, women are transforming the role of the internet in the academy--and transforming their own work as a result.

Arguing the benefits of online publication, featured writers Beverly J. Irby and Genevieve Brown explore e-publishing as a welcoming route for women scholars. Kathy Fischer speaks of the internet’s potential as a pedagogical and networking tool, particularly for administrators to reach out to their students and graduates. While Deborah Siegel describes her own journey online as following a pathway out of academia, she offers tips for women everywhere to maximize their use of the internet as a career-building tool; and Kortney Ryan Ziegler discusses her use of blogs for forging connections and creating a positive self-image in opposition to racist and sexist stereotypes. Daniel Butler and Meredith Anderson affirm these personal stories with their own research, finding that academic women both in the United States and abroad are using the internet for career-related networking--and are finding greater opportunity as a result.

When it comes to academic women’s use of the internet, our authors are optimistic, but not conclusive. Their work opens the digital door to a larger conversation about the Internet’s role--for better or for worse--in academic life.


"The under-representation of women’s voices and the lack of women- and girl-centered topics in mainstream media coverage continue to astonish me. Feminist scholars have an incredible opportunity to frame popular debate when they go online--if they know where and how to participate."  

Deborah Siegel


In this issue, Kathy Fischer outlines ways to connect with students through Facebook, while Genevieve Brown and Beverly J. Irby discuss their experiences publishing a women's leadership journal online. Read more


This issue's Global Perspective examines how internet technology affects women's scientific careers in Kerala, India.

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