Web measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings said the number of female Web surfers at home rose 9 percent in the United States, from 50.4 million in December 2000 to 55 million in December 2001. The overall number of active home Web surfers grew only 6 percent, from 98.6 million in December 2000 to 104.8 million in December 2001.
Nielsen/NetRatings added that 49.8 million U.S. men surfed the Web at home in December 2001, an increase of only 3 percent from the previous year.
The report comes as the Web continues to play an active role in people's lives. From conducting transactions, sending, or listening to music online, the Internet has shown itself to be a revolutionary invention in the company of the telephone or TV set.
"At the beginning of Internet adoption, the population didn't look very much like the mainstream offline population," said Dawn Brozek, senior Internet analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings. "Early on, the Internet population was mainly comprised of males with a technical background, which tended to be more affluent. And so the growth in women's adoption of the Internet really represents sort of a catching up or a mainstreaming of the Internet."
Although women's adoption of the Web is increasing, men spend more time surfing the Web at home and access more content than women, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The Web research firm said men spent 24 percent more time online at home than women in December 2001, averaging 11 hours online. Women spent an average of 9 hours online.
Brozek attributed the time gap between men and women to a differing availability of leisure time. She said many women face a "time poverty" at home because they shoulder household responsibilities such as childcare and meal planning.
When women do surf online, they tend to visit health, fashion, beauty, parenting and shopping sites, Brozek said. Men tend to visit sites that focus on their offline interests such as sports, news and entertainment sites.
On Friday, Nielsen/NetRatings also released its list of top Web properties in the United States in December. The highest-ranking sites for combined work and home usage remained unchanged from the previous month. AOL Time Warner hit the top spot with 80.2 million unique users. Yahoo came in second with 71.8 million, followed by MSN with 63.6 million, Microsoft with 43.9 million, and Amazon.com with 35.3 million unique users.