These results suggest that gender interacts with culture online in complex ways: Contrary to previous findings on gender in chat rooms, and contrary to culturally-based expectations about the subordinate status of Thai women, females appear to be relatively empowered in the Thai chat room studied here, as assessed through turn allocation patterns.A growing body of research finds that females and males display different participation patterns online.This piqued our curiosity—what are the interactional dynamics in a predominantly female Thai chat room?Are patterns of dominance reproduced from offline Thai culture—in which women are socialized to be docile and pleasing to men—or do women control the conversational floor because they are more numerous (and perhaps also liberated by the anonymity of the online environment)?Moreover, everyone is in principle free to self-select (Lunsford, 1996), and turns are posted democratically in the order received by the system.These features lead to the prediction that chat rooms will have more self-selecting conversational “floors” (Strategies B and C) than face-to-face communication, with attendant implications for gender equality (cf. At the same time, in as much as flirtation plays an important role in English-language chat room interactions, we analyzed flirtatious behavior in relation to turn initiations and responses, predicting that cross-sex initiations would be more frequent than same-sex initiations, and that males would attempt to initiate more flirtatious conversations with females than vice versa (cf. The results of the analysis show that rather than self-selecting at will, Thai chat participants obey the hierarchy of turn allocation preferences described for face-to-face speech by Sacks et al. That is, both females and males prefer Strategy A, the current speaker selects the next speaker.
In chat rooms, in contrast, gaze or gesture cannot be used to select the next speaker as in a face-to-face conversation.
A similar gender disparity was found in response patterns.
Females receive both more initiations and responses from males, including flirtatious overtures (although these are not very frequent), than do males from females.
Doctoral candidate in Linguistics at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. in English (Second Class Honors) from Bangkok University and a Master's degree in Educational Linguistics from Srinakharinwirot University.
Her dissertation, entitled “Coherence of Interactions in a Thai Chatroom: Interplay of Cohesion, Turn-Allocation, and Relevance,” focuses on interactional coherence in computer-mediated chat. This paper analyzes gender in relation to turn allocation in a popular Thai chat room on the World Wide Web.
Females tend to participate less and receive fewer responses than males in mixed-sex asynchronous discussion forums (Herring, 1993, 1996), whereas in chat rooms, females sometimes participate more actively and get more responses than males, e.g., because they are objects of flirtatious attention (Bruckman, 1993; Rodino, 1997).