... can be scary. APM's Future Tense reports that chat rooms can be hostile to girls. In some ways this isn't a surprise, but the magnitude of the hostility is striking.
"A study by the University of Maryland's School of Engineering finds that female-name users of Internet Relay Chat are subjected to a barrage of sexually abusive language and violent verbal attacks. In the study, chatroom users with names like 'Kathy' or 'Irene' received 25 times more malicious messages than users with names like 'Bob' or 'Jack.'"
More info is at physorg.com (*very* commercial, but interesting), which reports that the "results will be published in the proceedings of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers International (IEEE) Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN '06) in June."
You can listen to the Future Tense piece in RealAudio or as a podcast through iTunes.