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Constructing Gendered Professional Identities on the Web 
- A Content Analysis of Personal Home Pages

Nicola Döring

7th International Conference on Language and Social Psychology 
in Cardiff, Wales. 30 June - 4 July 2000. 

Symposium on Gendered professions: Constructing gender in professional contexts


Personal homepages on the web have become an important way of self-presentation for both vocational and private use. As personal home pages reflect varying topics and are characterized by individual styles, they can be expected to be just as gendered as other forms of self-presentation. This paper looks at more detailed aspects of the web-based make-up of distinct self-aspects from a gender perspective. For instance, the communication of professional competence (traditionally rather attributed to men than to women) or the relation of professional self to the private self (traditionally more identity-defining for women than for men). A 2 x 2 x 5-design study (n=100) of personal home pages (USA/Germany, women/men, 5 types of professions) was carried out to test the hypotheses that professional women use their personal homepages more than men, (1) to stress their professional competence (e.g. via full cv, or list of honours, degrees, titles) and (2) to emphasize their social position (e.g. via family photographs, links to friends and relatives). Gender differences were expected to be smaller than differences between the professions and nationalities included in the sample (3). A content analysis mostly confirmed the three hypotheses. As a result it will be argued that there is no typical "male" or "female" web-based self-presentation technique.