Applications and Tools, Identity and Expression, Second Life

Harvard Business Studies Twitter, Finds Gender Bias

The Conversation Starter, one of the blogs of Harvard Business Publishing, recently took a look at Twitter usage patterns and found some “surprising” findings.

Co-authors Bill Heil and Mikolaj Piskorski found that men have more followers than women and that men have more “reciprocated relationships.” They also found that women “are driven less by followers than men, or have more stringent thresholds for reciprocating relationships.” And while men and women tweet at the same rate, men are followed more regularly than women in the Twitter world, results they describe as “stunning.”

Stunning, because the gender bias on Twitter is not consistent with other social networks, where, the authors write, “most of the activity is focused around women.”

As far as usage goes, 10% of Tweeters account for 90% of the Tweets out there. And “a typical Twitter user contributes very rarely,” indicating that a small percentage of people keep Twitter a happening place, which leads the authors to the interesting conclusion that “Twitter resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.”

I find this study interesting - primarily because these issues seem to have different results in different media. In virtual worlds, gender is more fluid, and identity can be both obscured and influenced by avatar appearance.

Also intriguing is the question of whether it’s the audience or the media. Maybe Twitter attracts geeky male coder types who like to bond and be followed, and socialite females who like to be connected (but primarily as observers). Wow….how tribal is that?

Second Life on the other hand feels to me like it attracts all types, there probably IS no one culture, but it certainly doesn’t preclude cross-gendered coders and a lot of sharing and collaboration, plus a massive inability to follow ANYONE because friends lists suck, and a lack of one-to-many ANYTHING because group chat is borked.

1 Comment

speak up

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site.

Subscribe to these comments.

*Required Fields

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.