Women More Likely to Follow Men on Twitter

What Women Really Think
June 3 2009 4:29 PM

Women More Likely to Follow Men on Twitter

In the wider world, Oprah Winfrey is vastly more influential than Ashton Kutcher. But Ashton trumps Oprah in the male-dominated Twitter-verse, where men have 15 percent more followers than women do. New research from Harvard Business School has shown that not only are men more likely to follow other men on Twitter, but women are also more likely to follow men . According to the study:

These results are stunning given what previous research has found in the context of online social networks. On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women-me n follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know . [bold is theirs] Generally, men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women. We wonder to what extent this pattern of results arises because men and women find the content produced by other men on Twitter more compelling than on a typical social network, and men find the content produced by women less compelling (because of a lack of photo sharing, detailed biographies, etc.).

Unlike the authors of this study, I don't wonder whether there is a major difference between the type of content created by men and women on Twitter when compared to other social networks. I think the difference is due to the sorts of people who use Twitter frequently. As the study also notes, 10 percent of Twitter users account for 90 percent of Tweets, and I would imagine that Twitter-lovers disproportionally come from the tech field, which is notoriously male-dominated.

I checked the people whom I follow on Twitter, and apparently I am an equal-opportunity follower: Of 98 individuals I follow, 48 are women (I follow 102 Twitter feeds in total, but because four are gender-neutral organizations like Newsweek , I didn't count them). How many women are you following? If you follow more men than women, why do you think that is?

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.



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