Who's Got the Phone? The Gendered Use of Telephones at the Bottom of the Pyramid
International Communications Association Conference, Montreal, Canada, May 26, 2008
26 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2010
Date Written: 2008
Much has been said about women’s access to and use of the telephone. Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access exists particularly in developing countries. Women are also said to use telephones in a different manner from men –making and receiving more calls, spending more time on calls, and using telephones primarily for ‘relationship maintenance’ purposes, while men make fewer calls, shorter calls and use telephones primarily for instrumental purposes. However, much of this research on usage patterns is based on small-sample studies in affluent developed countries. The article provides evidence that a significant gender divide in access to telephones exists in Pakistan and India, to a lesser extent in Sri Lanka, but is absent in the Philippines and Thailand. This article also challenges some of the findings of studies which claim that women’s and men’s use is fundamentally different, shedding light on women’s access to and use of telecom services at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in five Emerging Asian markets. The article is based on an 8,600 sample study of telephone users in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand, focusing on the BOP, but also looking at the ‘middle and top’ of the pyramid to ascertain whether these findings are unique to the BOP or not.
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