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Social Media Giants Release Employee Gender Figures

Twitter In Last Place For Gender Equality

Following the publishing of similar statistics by Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter recently maybe publicly available figures related to the demographics workforce – and they make for somewhat embarrassing reading for anyone with even a pretence for supporting gender equality in the social media economy.

No one comes out of this looking good, although it is Twitter which perhaps has the most work to do. LinkedIn has a workforce which is 61% male – the best proportion for any of the three major companies, although not close to what anyone could describe as being equal. Facebook, with a global split of 69% men to 31% women among its employees, barely makes it into second place.

Twitter boasts a body of staff which is 70% male.

The real damage, however, comes when one looks beyond the overall statistics to a more detailed breakdown of gender equality levels within the companies.

Among those who Twitter defines as working for the ‘Tech’ department, only 10% are female. Statistics are little better for Facebook and LinkedIn, at 15% and 17% respectively. In the Leadership division LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have a proportion of female employees of 25%, 23%, and 21% respectively.

All three of these companies had female heads of diversity as the spokespeople for the issue of these statistics, and all three made concessions as to the necessity of building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. The received notion of the ‘brogrammer’ and the testosterone-fuelled culture of Silicon Valley are well established, and the fact that only 18% of Computer Science graduates are female (compared to around 40% in STEM fields overall and 56% of all undergraduate enrollment in the USA) demonstrates that these is certainly an issue to be addressed at all levels of engagement in the tech sector.

All companies also outlined the steps that they were taking to address they were taking to counteract the male-dominated tech culture, from funding scholarships for women seeking to study in the tech sector to educating their existing workforce on the issues surrounding gender equality.

The most bitter irony in this situation is that, among users, 62% of those on Twitter and 58% of those on Facebook are female. Even LinkedIn has a female population of 46%, about the same as their proportion of non-tech employees.

What these figures make clear is that there is an essential divide between these companies’ user bases and their employee population, perhaps an unsustainable one. The strength of the most popular social media platforms lies in their almost infinite flexibility, their ability to be all things to all people, and if the companies themselves are hindered by a particularly gendered viewpoint this is likely to eventually be reflected in the economics of the businesses.

It is probably not necessary for those looking to use social media to further their own business to be overly concerned about this imbalance; in a straightforward B2C relationship it is only the potential customer base which a social network’s users represent which is pertinent. In the long term, however, the viability of social networks as a marketing tool rests on the assumption that a broad section of the population will remain engaged with them, and so one eye must be kept on the steps which social media platforms are taking to ensure that their product reaches the widest possible audience.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Social Media Giants Release Employee Gender Figures Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, July 25, 2014 Rating: 5
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