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It's a woman's Web out there -- if you know where to look

August 8, 1996
Web posted at: 1:25 p.m. EDT

From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman

(CNN) -- If you've read any of the latest Internet demographics, you know that women are polling out as a minority on the World Wide Web. But their numbers are growing, and judging from a recent Web surf, the majority are becoming active participants, rather than mere lurkers, in this new medium. Here's a sampling of relevant sites.

Shop! Information Services
Shop! Information Services
Shop! Information Services

The credo of this on-line magazine, which goes by the acronym SIS, might be "nothing is sacred." The Women's Consumer Foundation Inc., which runs the site, commissions field tests on pantyhose, T-shirts, sunscreens, and the like to figure out how to get the most bang for your buck. It points out instances in which women pay more than men for the same product -- haircuts and dry cleaning are fairly well-known examples, but what about deodorants? And it tells its visitors what they can do to correct the injustices of the consumer world.

If I sound like I'm poking fun, I'm not. This site is super. The stories are not only practical, but written in an entertaining manner. Unfortunately, it's only updated every other month, but since it depends solely on public support for funding, it would be unrealistic to expect more.

Women's wire
Women's Wire
Women's Wire

More than just a fashion magazine on-line, this site tells you what you need to know about such topics as eating healthy, balanced meals; working out without hurting yourself; and managing your money. It also posts daily news updates on stories about or pertinent to women.

Even more novel, in their coverage of fashion the site's writers acknowledge that some fashions flatter nobody. Instead of starving yourself to suit the styles, they advocate, forget about those perceived flabby thighs and get on with life.

Special features: a magazine-like navbar, clear and sharp pictures, quick download, features that are updated weekly, and links that are actually useful. Check out their recent story on women who became webmasters, and how to follow in their footsteps as a good example.

You can also give your 2 cents' worth on the issues of the day. On a recent visit the issue du jour was welfare reform, and thoughtful responses were plentiful. There is also a chat area available if you're using a browser that can see Java applets. The designers could improve the site by finding a way to make the images take up less memory, thus reducing the time it takes to download a page.

Women's Connection Online
Women's Connection Online
Women's Connection Online

Women's Connection Online is the serious big-sister-in-spirit to the Women's Wire. Compared to Women's Wire, the site's graphics aren't particularly sleek or sophisticated. But information, not cuteness, is the purpose here, and the solid layout makes it easy to find what you need.

Need to know about new U.S. legislation affecting women? It's there. So are links to every women's organization in the country. And the on-line library spans a spectrum of issues, from starting a business to family planning.

Not to imply that all women are parents, nor that all parents are women ... but this site might be of interest to those who do have kids, especially while school is out. The site, which has a clear and colorful layout, includes recipes kids will (probably) like, activities, reviews of new children's computer programs, summer travel ideas, and local things to do with kids. For now, all the local things are in the United States, but they are subdivided by region to make it easier to find activities in your neck of the woods.

Women Leaders Online
Women Leaders Online
Women Leaders Online

If your role in the community tends more toward political activist than homeroom mother, and your politics lean toward the liberal, this site will be of interest. It's purpose is to fight certain provisions of the Republican Contract for America that the site's creators believe the run contrary to the well-being of women.

In pursuit of that goal, they've written a Women's Contract With America laying out legislation they'd like to see passed. The site also plans to provide extensive information on congressional races and a list of e-mail addresses for U.S. senators.

The site has a long way to go to fulfill its promises. Several items I clicked on turned out to be under construction, and several more were bulleted but not yet linked. Once it's completed, however, the site should be an important political resource for women.


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