#womenwednesday Cuz Women Like To Talk And Shop

I was still pretty new to the world of social media when this article was published in Vanity Fair called “America’s Tweethearts.” The article is allegedly an insight into how a handful of women built their Twitter empires. There are a few things I’d like to draw your attention to, apart from the “come hither” photo of the women all dressed in trench coats and high heels.

“Twitter doesn’t even require real sentences, only a continual patter of excessively declarative and abbreviated palaver.” (thank goodness, because my little woman brain can’t handle full sentences most of the time).

This one was really interesting:

Each day, these women speed easily across the Twitformation Superhighway on their iPhones and laptops, leaving droppings in their wake: “getting highlights before class,” “I hrd u had fun!,” “Wah, missing my twittr time!” They use a lot of “hashtags,” which is a way of identifying posts on a certain topic—like Twilight or Tiger’s mistresses—and often participate in chain-letter-style tweets, adding their haiku to such threads as OMGFacts. (Sample OMGs: “You’ll eat 35,000 cookies in your lifetime”; “banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories per hour.”) And somehow this fascinates millions of readers.

Even as new as I was, I had heard of Julia Roy before this article came out. She had already appeared on “top women of social media lists” like this one by Lee Odden from 2010. Noting that what she did could be described as “leaving droppings on Twitter” kind of bummed me out.

As it happens, this would not be the last time I’d encounter the argument that women are able to excel in social media because it’s so…well, social. Take this quote from a 2011 TechCrunch article: “Especially when it comes to social and shopping, women rule the Internet.” This article from GenConnect almost apologetically suggests that some women should appear more on lists like the Ad Age Power 150. Tied to all of this is the huge “mommy blogger” movement which is so powerful when it comes to baby product retailers. Recently Jeremiah Owyang also reported on a new movement called PANKS (professional Aunties, No Kids), again tied to how marketers can target women in the online world.

Aren’t women making inroads for any other reasons?

There’s nothing wrong with the conversation that indicates that women can succeed in social media because some women like to talk brands with their girlfriends or just plain like to talk. However, the way this conversation is carried out sometimes makes me wonder if the same exact wording could be used to describe a teenage girl and a 50-year-old woman, both of whom blog and use Twitter.

Also, we are missing some huge opportunities to celebrate women for things OTHER than talking or shopping. For example, we could celebrate women like Estrella Rosenberg, Ifdy Perez, Beth Cantrell,  and Molly Cantrell-Craig, who are doing fabulous work in the not-for-profit world. Maybe we could talk about sharp marketing minds like Dawn Westerberg, Jeanette Baer, Mila Araujo, and Brandie McCallum. Maybe we could even talk about women who are powerhouses in the business world like Carol Roth and Nicole Fende, both of whom blog and tweet quite regularly.

We’re missing a real revolution

Even more than highlighting women who are using social media as a professional tool, we are missing an opportunity to shine the light on women who are using social media to call for and implement social change. This fascinating article, “Revolution, Women, and Social Media in the Middle East” appeared in the Huffington Post on January 27, 2012. The article details a conference where several women who had used Twitter and Facebook to express their opinions and spread information during the revolutions in Egypt and Libya were finally able to meet in person. These women, who have limited rights in their own countries, were able to use the social networks at their disposal to get the word out about their own situations and what was going on in their countries. One of the women notes, “I couldn’t have done this without social media. The world would not have known…”

Would you want to call what these women did on Twitter “droppings?” Would you want to say that they found their followers because of funny, trivial hashtags? I don’t think so.

Why are we not focusing more on women who are breaking the “talking and shopping” teenybopper stereotype?

Women Are Social. A Lot of Women Like To Shop. And?

The real question, of course, is why there seems to be a hesitation to highlight women who are powerful in what they do, not just in the numbers of followers they have. Beyond that, there is even less written about non-white, non-American women who are successful in the online world. Maybe we can work on changing that.

What do you think?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/philandpam/1485578432/ via Creative Commons

9 comments
prosperitygal
prosperitygal

How funny I have been discussing this topic for a while now and encouraged a few men to talk about this in the open. Hoping that if the men bring it up, it will get more and better attention. WHY, because when women, do we are accused of being whinny, bitchy and not able tot take the truth.

It is insulting that when women are recognized, they are objectified instead of honored.

We seem to be regressing instead of progressing, just look at Congress recently.

Martina McGowan
Martina McGowan

Yes, I agree with you Margie. As you know I am fairly new to this social media stuff, but there seems to be precious little written about women who are making real inroads in the twitterverse, as well as their industries. Certainly, some of those who have huge numbers of followers also publish some awesome blogs and do a great many other things that should be talked about, celebrated and recognized. But, you are correct that they, we, tend not to be spotlighted in the same way. And yes, even moreso for minority or non-American.

On another note, I am not a good shopper, so there is little hope. :)

Martina

@martinamcgowan

jennapettinato
jennapettinato

This is a fantastic post. There are so many great women who are using twitter to change the world and to transform traditionally male-dominated areas like business and technology. Two that I think are great are @tara and @llcodedotcom Just this morning I had two great twitter discussions with two female friends about a social media conference and logo and web design, not shopping or where we're getting our hair cut. This is such an important discussion and I hope it continues - I'll definitely be waiting to hear more. It's great that we have social platforms like twitter and facebook where we can address these issues as soon as they happen!

TonyBennett
TonyBennett

Funny, only because wrote about similar issues in my post yesterday. I was naive when first entered into the socialverse thinking men & women were treated equally, but now that I'm all grown-up, I realize it's totally not. I'm working on changing that!

Great post Margie!

TonyBennett
TonyBennett

@prosperitygal small world, eh? Maybe we can get Margie to contribute on part deux! And FYI, my disqus is jacked do I'm unable to reply to comments on my own blog. Had a good one for you, hopefully it works tomorrow (fingers crossed)

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@deleted_2698155_BruceSallan1 thanks Bruce. Yeah, that Vanity Fair article is pretty outrageous. Going back and reading it again reminded me just how awful it was. Blegh.

I don't have anything against Mommy Bloggers, but I find it strange that in the online world, it seems like the most powerful women must be tied to the Mommy Blogger movement. It seems like we are still kind of stuck in our expected gender roles. Just seems silly.

Glad you liked the post :)

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@Martina McGowan Yeah, I pretty much hate shopping, so I guess that explains why I don't make any of the "top" lists in the online world :)

There are a lot of women who are recognized because of what they *really* do, and that's great. But it seems like the same women are celebrated over and over again. Surely there are other women who never get mentioned but who are doing great things. For example, I had never heard the names of any of the women mentioned in that Huffington Post article. I think that's pretty tragic.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

@TonyBennett Glad to hear it, Tony Sad that we still have to deal with these things, isn't it?