The Changing Role of Women

3 03 2010

From: jyesmith.com/page/2/

March is women’s month since the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. There are thousands of celebrations to commemorate this special date. Many events are still focused on gender equity, women’s rights and freedom. As I searched the list of events that the United Nations Headquarters in New York is holding for this date, I thought  that including a panel on how social media is shifting the role of women and creating more opportunities for involvement would be interesting. However, this was not part of the agenda and I guess we are still at a premature stage of the social media development to include such a topic in an event like this.

So, I took some time to research how women are interacting with social media and how it’s changing their role. Not surprisingly my initial thoughts of how social media presents an opportunity for women were confirmed.

According to the article “Revealing the People Defining Social Networks” by Brian Solis, women tend to be heavier users of social networks than men. This is not as surprise since social networks are all about building and maintaining relationships, and naturally women tend to be more “sociable” than men. This statement might sound stereotypical but studies have demonstrated that with regards to social interests, social values, needs for inclusion, and need for affiliation, women nearly always scored higher. Also in studies comparing the friendships of women and men suggested that women are more involved than men with other people.

So, social media presents the ideal platform for women to develop what we are “genetically bound to do”, and that’s to be social. Aside from building informal relationships or keeping established ones, social media presents several opportunities for women at every level.

From: Collective Thoughts

Influence

Many of us have heard about Mommy Bloggers. This is a perfect example of how a big group of women are influencing others. Here are some numbers from “Mom Bloggers Prove Powerful Resource to Marketing and Branding Success” that prove how these bloggers are modifying the decision-making sphere and how important their role is:

  • 96% of Moms value recommendations they find on Mom Blogs
  • Over 78% of Mom Bloggers now review products and services
  • More than 60% of Mom Bloggers consider making money important and want more connectivity with companies
  • 37% of Mom Bloggers have been contacted as resources for the press

Really, what these numbers mean is that women, especially mothers, are affecting others’ purchasing decisions, their way of thinking and their behavioral patterns. Today, a bad review about a product in a popular Mommy Blog could negatively affect sales, image and perception about the product. So, today ever than before women’s voices and concerns are heard. Years ago due to lack of accessibility and high costs of information transferability this trend seemed unimaginable.

Access

In traditional media women have not the same access to jobs and creation of content than men. According to The National Organization for Women only one in four communications/media jobs created between 1990 and 2005 were filled by women. The only area where the share of women increased was in the newspaper industry — the lowest-paid industry in the sector, where many of the women are employed in part-time telephone sales positions. For full-time workers in the communications/media sector, a gender and race wage gap persists: White men are paid 29 percent more than white women and 46 percent more than women of color. Among communications companies in the Fortune 500, women comprise just 15 percent of top executives and only 12 percent of board members. Nevertheless, social media presents a cost-effective and accessible way to disseminate information and content. Women only need a computer, creativity and some basic skills to persuade thousands of people if that’s what they are looking for. Now, women who are interested in journalism or simply who want to make a change, don’t have to wait for a high-paid executive to give them journalists jobs in a magazines or a newspapers.

Leadership

Aside from having a greater possibility to influence people and having more access to the creation of content, social media also gives women an opportunity to lead. A friend of mine created a blog, and later a not-for-profit organization to support women who work as exotic dancers and have been physically or physiologically abused. She  did not have the financial resources either the human capital to raise enough awareness about this issue using traditional media. However, her blog, and all the other social networks have helped assume an important leadership role to protect this group of women. Her organization has become so successful that she has been interviewed in several shows and has organized many events to fund raise money to support exotic dancers. This is one small example, but as my friend, there are thousands of women who are creating blogs and using networks to strengthen their leadership role in society. I am not suggesting here that before social media women were unable to lead yet these tools are enhancing their roles and increasing their opportunity to reach even more people.

It’s clear that women still face some barriers and the glass-ceiling has not yet become something of the past. However, I believe, and studies are proving it, that social media is giving women more possibilities to interact, persuade and grow.


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2 responses

3 03 2010
revealpr

Valentina,

I agree with you on the notion that social media opens great opportunities for women to express themselves and gain support of the public. Women in nature are, as you well mentioned, more communicative than men. With the rise of social media, we are granted a great opportunity to connect and start a dialogue with people that we wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise.

However, I want to stress that despite its great benefits, social media can also stir up prejudice against women in general. Mass opinion is based on people’s perceptions, which in turn arise from women’s behavior and success as opposed to men’s. If women want to be equal to men in their professional life, women have to act like men and not ask or wait for indulgence based on the gender (which happens quite often).

9 03 2010
kimmona

The struggle for gender equality will likely go on forever. I’ve held various marketing positions and seen first hand how women will work harder (and sometimes smarter) than many men, but don’t always get the recognition. Recently social media has afforded additional opportunities for women to be themselves and to put a human voice on communications with their market. Most people will agree that women are conversationalist and we know that markets are conversations! Take a look at http://immediateinfluenceblog.com/25-of-the-most-powerful-influential-women-in-social-media-2009/ to see a list of some of the most influential women in social media.

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