Why the Internet Needs More Women// Megan Brubaker

Picture Citation: https://razoredge-media.co.uk/men-vs-women-social-media-usage/

Gender differences have surfaced as a hot topic in technology. In July, a Google employee posted an anti-diversity message stating there were “biological” differences between men and women justifying the gender pay gap in tech companies. Other tech companies, such as Uber, have faced allegations of sexism. Women are often discouraged to pursue STEM degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. But why is the technology industry a “boys only” club? Do women have less interest or need for the internet and technology?

There are 2.8 billion users logging onto at least one social media platform daily. This mainstream phenomenon has blossomed over the past decade. In fact, it grew 22% in the last year. Facebook is the leading social media website with 83% of its users predominately female (Tracx.com, 2017). Through social media, users can relate to friends and strangers the status updates of their feelings, thoughts, and accomplishments. However, there are gender-specific behaviors on social media. Women tend to use the internet for social interactions and relationship building, while men are more likely to use the internet for task completion and information seeking. This explains why photo-sharing sites like Facebook and Instagram have a predominately female user base, while informational sites like Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube have a predominately male user base.

It is possible that gender differences online stem from evolutionary roots. Theoretically, men tend to seek out groups for protection and food gathering, while women tend to seek relationships for child bearing and protection of kin. These social roles were demonstrated in a study by David-Barrett and colleagues (2015). Analyzing 112,000 profile pictures worldwide, they found women favored dyadic relations, whereas men favored larger-male cliques. This implies that cross culturally, women desire more quality relationships than quantity. They seek the emotional relationship rather than the large-scale community of social networking.

Further gender differences are seen in motivations for internet use and utilization of time spent online.  Research in this area has found social media behavior is due to two psychological needs: for affiliation and for self-disclosure (Chen, 2015). Social media is a magnet for attracting women to fulfill these needs. Online interactions provide a venue to develop the ability to regulate responses, relate with tolerance and respect to others’ viewpoints, express condolences, celebrate, and engage in discussions (Pujazon-Zazik & Park, 2010). These are all features exercised in social interactions. Women have the power to express themselves and seek friendships that may not be readily available in their immediate environment.

This report illustrates the influence of gender on technology use. Gender plays a significant role in considering the purpose and use of technology. As previously discussed, gender acts as an influencing factor in technology adoption as men are perceived to be more technologically proficient compared to women. Similarly, gender difference is not being observed with respect to interaction via social media but males and females do have different agendas in using social network sites. Females mainly use the social network for the quality of relationships whereas males use it for seeking friends, or the quantity of relationships. This review can inform women how the gender gap in technology acceptance is occurring and ways this discrepancy can be addressed.

~ Written by Megan Brubaker


Al-Saggaf, Y., & Nielsen, S. (2014). Self-disclosure on Facebook among female users and its relationship to feelings of loneliness. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 460-468.
Chen, G. M. (2015). Why do women bloggers use social media? Recreation and information motivations outweigh engagement motivations. New Media & Society, 17(1), 24-40.
David-Barrett, T., Rotkirch, A., Carney, J., Izquierdo, I. B., Krems, J. A., Townley, D., McDaniell, E., Byrne-Smith, A., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2015). Women favour dyadic relationships, but men prefer clubs: Cross-cultural evidence from social networking. PLoSONE10(3):e0118329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118329
Tracx.com (2017). Top network demographics. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/top-social-network-demographics-2017-infographic
Kimbrough, A. M., Guadagno, R. E., Muscanell, N. L., & Dill, J. (2013). Gender differences in mediated communication: Women connect more than do men. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 896-900.
Pujazon-Zazik, M., & Park, M. J. (2010). To tweet, or not to tweet: gender differences and potential positive and negative health outcomes of adolescents’ social internet use. American Journal of Men's Health, 4(1), 77-85.

No comments:

Post a Comment