Women and Social Media

Women and Social Media February 27, 2012

By Melissa Bell:

Do you see the same patterns? Social media becoming more and more populated by women? Social use vs. task-driven?

Are social media sites destined to always be the online equivalent of a seventh-grade dance? Men on one side, women on the other?

The numbers suggest that, instead, women will soon overrun the dance floor of social media sites — and what’s more, be the DJs, too.

Since 2008, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project’sKathryn Zickuhr, women have led men in the use of social media sites. Women not only outnumber men on the sites (69 percent of women use social media, compared with 60 percent of men), they also spend more time on them. Women use social media sites to be, well, social, whereas, Zickuhr says, men are more task-oriented, using the sites to promote themselves and gather information.

For Johanna Blakley, who researches the impact of mass media as a professor at the University of Southern California, the predominance of women on social sites could lead to a positive, although subtle, change in the way women are represented in media. In a TED Talk on the subject last year, she spoke about her belief that social media will help “dismantle some of the silly and demeaning stereotypes that we see in media and advertising about gender.”

Thanks to sites including Pinterest, women can assert via pins, posts and updates who they are and what they want, rather than be mere observers of an advertising-fueled culture.

Women are moving from passive purchasers to online authorities and tastemakers. Gender differences remain, but some of the false stereotypes might die a death by a thousand pins.

 

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