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03 October 2009

Why We Now Need More Women Building the Social Web

2914204024_30cc8f0764_o Mashable reported today that there are more women than men in "Social Web".

Unsurprisingly, there are more men than women using Digg, and Information is Beautiful report that 64% of their users are male. 

But when it comes to Twitter, Bebo, Flickr, Facebook, Ning, and a whole bunch of social networks I've never even heard of - "women rule". 

Cue the gasps and RTs and !!!!1!!!!s. 

While this is a cool bit of information, it doesn't really come as a surprise. 

Back in August 2007 there was an article in The Guardian about new findings by Ofcom and the   "feminization of the Internet":

Among 25- to 34-year-olds, women now spend more time using the internet than men, according to the Ofcom report published today. Although men account for the majority of web time in most other age groups, women have also taken a slight but significant lead in the 35-49 bracket.

Even before the Ofcom report in August 2007, eMarketer was reporting in April 2007 that: "women outnumber men online, and it's likely to stay that way", projecting that the near future, almost 72% of women will be online:

Not only do females make up the majority of Internet users, but more of the female population goes online. This year, an estimated 66.2% of US females ages 3 and older will use the Internet at least once a month, compared with 64.2% of males, according to eMarketer. By 2011, 72.1% of females are expected to go online, vs. 69.3% of males.

So, it's no surprise that women are taking over in the "social" web spaces. Especially as blogging is a huge part of the "social web" and women, surprise surprise, were kicking ass in that area as well. 

Back in April 2008, there was a BlogHer survey conducted by Compass Partners that found just how much blogging influenced women. It found that 40% of the women asked considered blogs a "reliable source of advice and information", and that 50% said that blogs even influenced their purchasing decisions.

The sheer number of women blogging and participating in the social aspect of blogging was pretty astounding:

"36.2 million female US Internet users actively participate in blogs every week with 15.1 million publishing at least one post a week and 21.1 reading and commenting at least weekly."

That's a lot of women participating in blogging. 

So, excuse me if I wasn't shocked and awed that therefore more women were using Twitter than men. Or Facebook. Or even fucking Bebo. 

What this information did make me think was: "Then why the fuck aren't more women working at the companies that create and develop these social networks?"

Yes. I am making this about women in tech. No, they are not separate. They are very much the same.

Why? Let's see. This week I attended FOWA - The Future of Web Applications - a tech conference where the ratio women to men was about 2:10 (if I'm being generous) that had a whopping TWO female speakers. 

If women are using the social web more than men, then they're using those "social" web apps more than men. (Hello, Flickr. )

So why were only men preaching and teaching about the different aspects of web applications?

If women are using Twitter and Myspace and Facebook more than men, why aren't more women working on the creation and development of these sites?

If I were the editor of a magazine, and I suddenly realized that we had more female than male readers, and my staff was predominantly male, as an editor, that tells me that we should throw in a few female writers, just so the minds creating the product match the consumers of the product a little bit better


If more women are using the social web, shouldn't we have more females on staff at the start-ups and companies who are building the social web?

People get so unbelievable defensive when you point this out. As if you are belittling them and their hard work by suggesting that more women should be working at start-ups. 

No one is asking to chop off one of your balls by suggesting more women should be working in tech. 

No one is suggesting that a woman could do your job better.

I'm suggesting that if you have a diverse audience, your team should reflect that. PLAIN AND FUCKING SIMPLE.

Also, ladies, why so defensive?

No one is suggesting that you only got your job by sleeping with someone if you are a woman in tech. No one is belittling your hard work. 

But let me get this straight...

You don't think you've EVER been treated differently in technology because you're a woman? 

You don't think someone has ever decided to talk to you, hand you their business card, meet up for a business chat because they thought you were attractive?

No one ever decided to watch one of your online videos because of your cleavage?

Or is it that you don't want people thinking that things have been harder for you as a woman in tech, because then they might figure out that things have actually been easier for you?

That maybe a door opened that wouldn't have done if you were a male, scruffy developer type?

Nope. You can't admit that there is any difference, because if you do, people might find out your dirty little secret right? That you actually like being the only girl? That it gets you more attention that way? That it makes you stand out more?

Just a theory. 

If you have been given different or special opportunities in tech or any other profession - good for you. Why look a gift horse in the mouth? Run with it. 

Just bear in mind that you now have a huge responsibility on your hands. 

You have to work your ass off and never, ever give anyone reason to suggest that you didn't work for or don't deserve the position you're in. Don't be lazy. Don't be a dick. (Because they could just have easily hired one, right?)

Now, I presume, you are going to launch into why there are enough women in tech, why it's women's fault that there aren't more women in tech, if more women wanted to be in tech than they would be, etc. 

Why are't there more women in tech? It's both men and women's faults. It's a problem that is complex, diverse, infuriating, and can be traced back to parents, schools, and our culture as a whole. 

My point is this:

Having more women than men in the social web means that there should be more women in IT and development and yes, tech marketing to reflect that. 

The team reflecting its audience. 

It's not that ridiculous of a concept, is it?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/ / CC BY 2.0


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