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The blogger-business gender gap

Women are social media leaders. But what about behind the scenes?

Women now outnumber men at U.S. colleges and in graduate programs. And on the Internet, women are at the forefront of social media, helming the blog revolution.

According to a recent Social Media Matters survey by the women’s online communities iVillage and BlogHer, three-quarters of the 87.1 million women in the U.S. are using social media sites, adopting them at the same rate as men. Sixty-eight percent of all BlogHer Network users surveyed, while a whopping 96 percent read them. BlogHer is one of the Web’s largest networks of women bloggers, with nearly 20,000 registered blogs and growing.

The majority of BlogHer Network users surveyed also used blogs and social networking sites like Facebook as their main sources of information on products, advice and recommendations. BlogHer users had the strongest media activity on the Web in almost every category.

Blogging and social media sites have increased in the past year alone by 50 percent, eclipsing traditional media sources like television, newspapers and magazines.

But while women are building their businesses as bloggers, they’re still few and far between in the tech world. In 2009, 57 percent of U.S. women held jobs in the workforce, but only 25 percent of them were IT related. As of 2016, there will be an estimated 1.5 million jobs created in the technology field, but a shortage of women to take on those positions.

Social conditioning, workplace culture and a lack of female role models in tech may account for the disparity. But what’s at stake is more than just the numbers.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, 40 percent of private businesses are owned by women, but just 8 percent of venture-backed tech startups were women-led. Not only are venture capitalists not investing in women-owned businesses, but this lack of gender diversity can account for less innovation, or products lacking sufficient input from women. Just think of the oft-cited feminine hygiene associations with Apple’s iPad.

With new social media startups bringing out female users in droves and women making up a growing segment of tech consumers, The New York Times goes on to suggest that investing in women tech entrepreneurs is not only the right thing to do, but may also be the key to maximizing profit and productivity. Narrowing the gender gap in technology may be as simple as making a smart business decision.

Lisa Ko contributed to this story.

Related: The BlogHer-iVillage 2010 Social Media Matters Study

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