Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
The social media space is dominated by women, and they are driving the social media revolution. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if you take a look around. Grandma’s on Facebook, Mom’s obsessed with Pinterest, and your Sister hasn’t stopped using Twitter since she got her new smartphone. But what does any of this mean?
In a recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog network, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox shares a recent speaking experience she had:
Speaking to a group of very international young business students in Switzerland, the room was a good balance of men and women, with a slight preponderance of women. I asked the men to raise their hands if they expected to have the lead career in their relationship. Almost all of them put their hands up. I then asked the women how many of them would be ready to be the secondary career to their partners. None of them raised their hands.
Even the “enlightened” Gen Y men and women are not seeing eye-to-eye on gender issues. There are more women than men in colleges and in the workplace, but men still expect to have the leading career in the household. If the number of women dominate the education sector, the business sector, and the social media sector, shouldn’t men reconsider their world view? (And if you don’t agree with the Gen Y neanderthals in Switzerland, then props to you.)
I’m not pointing fingers at just the men here. Women are equally responsible and might not be as progressive on gender as they think.
Gen Y women are more prepared and much more specific about how they would manage work versus family when they project 10 years out. They cited strategies such as using choosing workplaces known for good work-life policies, having kids later to be more stable financially, living close to family members, and managing flex-time effectively (longer weekdays with weekends off). Surprisingly, none of the women mentioned a scenario in which their spouse stayed home with the children.
I’ve become interested how gender is impacting media in the last couple of weeks. As I highlighted in the top half of this post, science fiction and fantasy reviewers and reviewees are dominated by men, not women. I think the reason for this has to do with Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy and the publishing culture of the magazines themselves. The tendency is to associate with people who are similar to you, so gender would be an aspect of the demographics.
Social media is having a huge impact global media, which has direct impact on culture. If social media is dominated by women, then what are some of the likely outcomes from this new dynamic?
Check this out. It’s not very long, only 8.5 minutes total, but the main point of what I’m getting at starts around the 5 minute mark.
What does this mean for social media? Does this mean that we will see a dynamic shift in mass entertainment? More chick flicks and less action films?
Video games are an easy area to focus on. I don’t discuss this topic with hate and vitriol in my heart; I wish I could stay in my PJ’s and play video games all day too, but the mortgage and the necessity to keep my toddler in diapers are great job motivators. It is not without a wistful glance in the rearview mirror that I drive to work each day.
99% of guys and 94% of girls under the age of 18 play video games each week. This means that everyone in the next generation will be playing video games, and that’s the reason why I’m focusing on them.
Anita Sarkeesian got slammed when she launched her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games where she was hoping to fund a web series that would enable her to present a portrayal of female characters within gaming. “This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games. The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders.” She did receive much more than the original $6000 funding amount, but the amount of scrutiny from the community as she releases her videos will be intense. Sarkeesian says:
What’s most ironic about the harassment is that it’s in reaction to a project I haven’t even created yet. I haven’t had the chance to articulate any of my arguments about video game characters yet. It’s very telling that there is this much backlash against the mere idea of this series being made.
It also seems shocking to me that video game research groups don’t often conduct focus testing with female players, even though they are a core part of the gaming market. (94% anyone?) Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann had to step in during focus-testing for The Last of Us in order to get the feedback from female gamers he has specifically requested.
A side topic to is the lack of female video game protagonists. Samus Aran and Lara Croft always get trotted out as examples that there are female leads. Great. Out of all the video games of all time, you can recall two characters who were not dudes. I think that is a strong point in the necessity for more female characters, not a point for ladies be representin’ as some would have you believe. Over at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play, there was an interesting post recently about Playing Like a Girl, where a demand is made for more variety in general. Penny Arcade also had an interesting article where they argued that games with exclusively female don’t sell… and not because players don’t want them. No, it’s because publishers don’t support them.
All is not well and good in the genderverse. Women are the majority in business, but only a very small percentage of Fortune 1000 CEOs. Women are the majority in social media, but companies are not adjusting their marketing to this shift. Women in science fiction are still not getting their due share of exposure. And women in video games make Conan the Barbarian seem enlightened.
Do I know what the solution is? Hell no! If I did, don’t you think I’d have waived the magic wand and made it happen already? I do see a problem that still needs to be solved.
What do you think should be done? As always, I would really enjoying hearing from you — the good, the bad, and the rousing argument.