Gender Styles in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)

Are the Experts Talking?

Five years ago I became interested in the differences in the way men and women communicate, with each other and with others of their sex. I spent a year researching and writing. That same year, Deborah Tannen -- a Professor at Georgetown University -- published her bestseller You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation. Although I found few of Tannen's ideas reflected in the results of my field study, her theories are not without merit. If we assume that men and women have different styles of face-to-face communication and use it for different purposes, will these differences carry over into computer-mediated communication? Are gendered speech characteristics elicited when in the physical presence of a member of the opposite sex? Or are gendered languages socialized into each of us so firmly that we reveal our gender even through typewritten dialogue?

We can find examples of Tannen's theories replicated in online communication. Are recognized authorities on gender styles in oral communication, like Tannen, turning their attention to electronic media? If not, who else is venturing into computer-mediated communication, conducting experiments and asserting new theories?

I set out to find answers to these questions, using my prior research and writing as a guide.
Read on. What you learn may surprise you..


Thoughts on Gender Styles in Communication|Established Theories of Gender Styles in Communication|
A Field Study|A Literary Look at Gender Styles in Communication|CMC and Gender Styles in Language

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This page was made for Randy Bass' graduate seminar:
The Electronic Kool-Aid Acid Text, or, Text, Knowledge, and Pedagogy in the Electronic Age,
Spring 1996.