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Date: February 09, 2000

New Website Designed For Teenage Girl Surfers

Linda Coupal wants teenage girls to start their Internet surfing in friendly waters.

Coupal, a PhD candidate in UVic's faculty of education, has created a Web site called "Connecting Girls," designed to help girls find Internet resources with minimal hassle. The site contains more than 60 links to sites for girls aged 12 to 18. Categories include writing, reading, research, sports, software, clubs and online discussion.

Coupal says the site will help teenage girls overcome the frustration of using standard search engines to look for sites --search queries often return too many responses, as well as links that are irrelevant and expired. When search queries include the keywords 'girls' or 'teens,' says Coupal, these problems are compounded by the need to filter out inappropriate and offensive sites.

"What I'm working to do is develop a girl-friendly site that girls can use to access what they want without encountering content that puts them off or offends them," she says. "The act of shaping online access to our needs gives students a greater sense of control over this form of media."

Coupal became interested in constructing a Web site for girls through her PhD research into the relationship between women and technology. Her position as a teacher-librarian working with information technology at a local high school heightened her interest. She noticed female students lacked confidence with computers, and that almost all of the students who came in to surf the Internet in their spare time were male.

"As the boys do that, they're gaining confidence with the technology," she says. "The girls aren't doing that. They enjoy using the computers for e-mail, but don't just come in for their own interest, to explore. They need safer environments in which to learn and practise their skills."

The Connecting Girls Web site can be found at:

Media contacts:
Linda Coupal (250) 382-9408, lcoupal@home.com
Robie Liscomb (UVic Communications) (250) 721-7640.

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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