Why Aren’t More Women Early Adopters of Technology

Early AdoptersAn eMarketer article recently summarized the latest survey statistics around ereader and tablet device adoption.   The results indicated that women were slow to adopt tablets .

“Men were 24 percentage points more likely than average to own a tablet, while women were 19 percentage points less likely than average to do so.”

While the news didn’t shock me, it did get me wondering, “Are women typically more cautious about new technologies or anything new?  Are they, in general, slow to adopt the latest and greatest whatever it is?”

Gender Differences and The Early Adopter Profile

Laura Rich, a digital media reporter, addressed some of these questions in a paper she published for Advertising Age: Shiny New Things: What Digital Adopters Want, How to Reach Them and Why Every Marketer Should Pay Attention.  In the paper she profiled three key drivers of early adopters based on Forrester Research that marries their “technographic” profiles with psychological theories.  The drivers were:

  • Risk Taking:  A desire to be first and to be novel “that exceeds caution”.
  • Information Gathering:  A desire to understand the new with a strong bent toward mitigating risk.
  • Status Seeking:  Using gadgets as a means of defining and reinforcing their status and who they are in the world.

Yeah.  My feminine gut tells me those are ALL strong male traits.

Women, on the other hand, seem to focus more on how a new gadget will benefit their existing life, especially where relationships are concerned.  They tend to ask “Is this useful to me in my life? Does it make me better connected?”  In fact, in areas where women do connect a new technology with their everyday social life, they often overtake men as early adapters.   Usage statistics on FaceBook and other social media networks are an excellent example of this trend.

Hmm…yup.  Again, I need only look at my own life to know that if it’s not useful, I can’t be bothered.  While my husband can spend more than an hour cleaning the Zombie fish tank in his mobile app, I am busy doing laundry.  I don’t need anything else to clean.

While women, especially those of the Gen X and Baby Boomer crowd, may be slower to run out and purchase the latest tech toy, they have likely spent a good deal of time thinking about its potential applications .  So, once committed, they can quickly close the gap with others who had a head start.

So Will Women Always Be So Cautious?

Women’s hesitation to adopt something early does seem to be diminishing with the generations.  It appears that 57% of Gen Y and younger generations see themselves as early adopters of technology.

But hey, if you think about just how many times our phones mobile devices have changed in the last 20 years, you’d conclude that discarding the old for the new is the norm.  As far as technology goes, they’ve never experienced attachment to any one tool or gadget long enough to question the benefit of something new.

Besides, I’m sure that when the automobile first came out, older women were less likely to learn to drive and purchase a car than those who’s daddy’s had taken them on Sunday drives.  In that sense, early adoption becomes a product of familiarity and they grew up in more digitally-immersed environments than their older counterparts.

Web 2.0 is ushering in a new level of social connection and interaction.  One that will likely make today’s norms obsolete within a few years.  As the younger generations mature in the business market, more women will become early adopters in the new era bringing with them an innate tendency to find useful applications for the tools at their disposal earlier in the product cycle which could make them more competitive than ever in the technical arena.

What do you think?

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