Equality of participation and influence in groups: The effects of communication medium and sex composition
We tested the claim that computer-mediated communication (CMC) is more egalitarian than face-to-face (FTF) communication by studying patterns of reported participation and influence in 30 FTF and 30 synchronous CMC groups over seven weeks. Twenty-two of these groups were composed of a majority of males or females; these were used to test effects of communication medium and sex composition on relative levels of participation and influence among group members. Competing predictions were derived from three theories: proportional theory, social role theory, and expectation states theory. Results indicated that CMC participation was perceived as more centralized than was FTF participation in groups' first meetings, but as similar for the remaining six meetings. Results revealed no or weak support for any of the competing theories of sex composition. Influence was perceived as most centralized in CMC majority-male groups and in FTF majority-female groups. In CMC groups, males in majority-female groups were perceived as having more influence than their female group members, whereas males in majority-male groups were perceived as having less influence than their female group members. In FTF groups, the ratio of male-to-female influence in majority-male and majority-female groups did not differ significantly. Implications of these findings and the need for additional longitudinal research are discussed.