Using E-mail for personal relationships: The difference gender makes

Title: Using E-mail for personal relationships: The difference gender makes

Year: 2001

Journal / Publication: American Behavioral Scientist

Volume: 45

Issue: 3

Pages: 530 – 549


Boneva, Bonka

Kraut, Robert

Frohlich, David


Do the gender differences found when men and women maintain personal relationships in person and on the phone also emerge when they use electronic mail? Alternately, does e-mail change these ways of interacting? The authors explore the types of relationships women and men maintain by e-mail, differences in their e-mail use locally and at a distance, and differences in the contents of messages they send. The findings are based on qualitative and quantitative data collected during a 4-year period. These data suggest that using e-mail to communicate with relatives and friends replicates preexisting gender differences. Compared to men, women find e-mail contact with friends and family more gratifying. Women are more likely than men to maintain kin relationships by e-mail. They are more likely than men to use e-mail to keep in touch with people who live far away. Women’s messages sent to people far away are more filled with personal content and are more likely to be exchanged in intense burst. The fit between women’s expressive styles and the features of e-mail seems to be making it especially easy for women to expand their distant social networks.


Keywords: N/A