"Un-Equal Online Safety?" A Gender Analysis of Security and Privacy Protection Advice and Behaviour Patterns

by   Kovila P. L. Coopamootoo, et al.

There are indications in literature that women do not engage with security and privacy (SP) technologies, meant to keep them safe online, in the same way as men do. To better understand this gender gap, we conduct an online survey with N=604 U.K. participants, to elicit SP advice source preference and usage of SP methods and technologies. We find evidence of un-equal SP access and participation. In particular, advice from intimate and social connections (ISC) is more prevalent among women, while online content is preferred by men. ISC do not closely associate with nor predict the use of SP technologies, whereas online sources (such as online forums, reviews, specialist pages and technology adverts) and training do. Men are also more likely to use multiple advice sources, that enhances the likelihood of using SP technologies. Women are motivated to approach ISC due to their perceptions of the advisor (such as IT related expertise, experience and trustworthiness) while men approach ISC to evaluate options and seek reassurance for their own practices. This research raises questions about the equity of online safety opportunities and makes recommendations.


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