NEW DELHI: A large digital gender gap exists in India, with almost half of the female population having neither the time nor the inclination to access the internet, a new study has found.

According to Google India, one third of the country's current internet population of 243m are women. And when it surveyed 828 women aged 18 to 55 for its Women & Technology report it discovered that 49% of respondents saw no reason to go online while 43% simply said they weren't interested, The Hindu reported.

Google's past research has shown that more and more Indian women are going online to buy goods ranging from baby care items to beauty products, but clearly a significant proportion have yet to make this move.

The speed of technological change was one inhibiting factor cited by those surveyed. And 42% admitted that, quite apart from a lack of interest, they just did not know how to do things on the internet.

Most of those expressing these views were not in paid employment and they also spoke of not having enough time for any internet activity after managing their households – internet use is seen as a leisure activity by this group rather than as an essential or practical part of daily life.

They also had concerns about being judged by their in-laws if they ended up spending too much time online. Privacy was another issue in large households with shared computers.

Despite all these reservations, Google India found that 46% of younger non-users intended to use the internet soon. And it suggested that "smartphones and internet cafes could be a cheaper and more private way" for some women to go online.

"We are working with various partners to help spread awareness about the benefits of being online amongst women," said Sandeep Menon, Country Head (Marketing), Google India. 

One step it has taken is to produce a film aimed at encouraging "young digital natives to bring their mothers online".

Data sourced from The Hindu; additional content by Warc staff