Study: Males vs. females in social networks

UPDATE: There is a more recent post available, Social network demographics in 2012.

Have you ever wondered how many of Twitter’s users are women? Or men? What about Facebook, MySpace, Digg, LinkedIn, and other sites in the social media sphere?

We have tracked down this information for a number of social network sites (19 of them). All the major ones have been included, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter and also some of the most popular social news sites; Digg, Reddit and Slashdot.

Full list of sites in this mini study: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Last.fm, Friendster, LiveJournal, Hi5, Imeem, Ning, Xanga, Classmates.com, Bebo.

To determine the ratio between male and female users on these sites we used site demographics data for the United States gathered from Google’s Ad Planner service.

Male/female site user statistics

Before we move on to the chart, here are a few quick observations based on the results we got.

  • 84% (16 out of 19) of the sites have more female than male users.
  • The social news sites Digg, Reddit and Slashdot have significantly more male users than female. The standout here is Slashdot which takes male geekdom to new heights with 82% male users. :)
  • If we hadn’t included the three social news sites, all of the sites would have had more females than males.
  • Twitter and Facebook have almost the same male-female ratio; Twitter with 59% female users and Facebook with 57%.
  • The most female-dominated site? Bebo (66% female users), closely followed by MySpace and Classmates.com (64%).
  • The average ratio of all 19 sites was 47% male, 53% female.

And here’s a chart with the male/female ratio for all the sites, for your viewing pleasure:

The big question

Why do you think certain sites attract more males than females and vice versa? We’d love to hear what you think, so please let us know in the comments.

29 comments

  1. Interesting observations.

    Have you accounted for the fake female profiles that belong to scammers and spammers? What is the source of your data?

    I used to work at MySpace/FIM heading up an R&D group, I did a lot of research on just about every social network site I could find, and I would say that possibly 25% of every “female” profile that I viewed was a spam page.

    I’m no longer with FIM, but I’m still signed up with those networks and I get “invites” all the time from spam pages. Coincidentally, the two networks that I get the most spam invites from are Bebo and MySpace. Which are at the top of your list for female users.

    1. @Don: We’re not sure where Google finds this specific demographics data, so it’s not easy to say how the estimates are done. You do raise an interesting question, though.

  2. I have to agree with Don that some of the difference having to do with the “oh so friendly and attractive” young spambots following me on Twitter. I haven’t actually seen this so much on Facebook however.

    However I think it’s more psychological than that. Many of these sites force you to embrace your inner being, and be authentic when expressing yourself. Reddit and the like are kind of like the obnoxious guy who just forwards links all of the time on Twitter. Not too much substance, but boy does it make him look like he’s a big reader.

    Just my two thoughts on this… would love to hear more about it.

  3. My immediate thought is that there are lots of fake female profiles on social networking sites. Whether it’s spammers, scammers, or men pretending to be women, I’m willing to bet that there are a lot more fake women than fake men about.

    Which is odd, really – if it’s really true that these sites have more women using them than men, then there should be an incentive to create fake male profiles 😉

  4. I would say Reddit and so on are about competition such as in “Who is larger, better, more attractive to the audience.” Whereas the others are more about connecting with each other and staying in touch.

  5. This tells me that females like to connect and communicate more with each other than males do.

    Whenever I get a request to join a new social network that I don’t feel I would be very active in I decline the invitation. But I think many females think “oh cool Jenny in London wants me to be her friend on BeBo, maybe I should join” and then the female user joins but is never really active beyond that initial contact like on her primary social networks.

    I guess the next stat would be how active males and females are on the social networking sites, that would tell us a much different story I’m sure.

  6. On SlashDot being heavily male, that’s an easy:

    Very sarcastic and hyper-critical site (e.g., getting “slashdotted”) is not going to appeal to women.

    Regarding ‘activity’, interesting Harvard Study: http://ow.ly/E8Xt
    SAYS
    1. About 10% of users generate over 90% of the content/messages
    2. The average Twitter account sends one message during its entire account life
    3. 25% of users NEVER tweet
    4. The average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman

  7. Hi, there.

    About the answer you made, this is my opinion:

    I guess women have more “sharing needs” than men. Most women like to tell how the day was, and to say what they want, like, talk about their feelings, etc. Why?

    Well, I really don’t know. But I´m almost sure it´s a question of XX (not only a Social Behavior). Maybe because sharing it´s something even physical for a woman, since we share our own bodies with babys.

    Maybe… This is just my own opinion. ;]

    Great blog! Congratulations

    Ana

  8. The big questions here are to do with size of sample & the period of sampling. Having those details would harden the story up.
    Nice graph :¬)

  9. I also have to be skeptical about some of these results and agree with those before me about the fake profiles.
    I had to quit Bebo for example because I was getting spammed by too many friend requests from “girls” with revealing pics. Some of these sites may actually be mostly male dominated but have a majority of female spam profiles simply since they will be more likely to get clicks to lead to some third party site for making money.
    The “females communicate more than males” suggestion is interesting, but would only be useful to speculate if it could be guaranteed that these were from active and non-spamming profiles. Facebook seems to do a good job keeping out fake profiles – it would be a better one to analyse.
    I’m surprised Orkut wasn’t included in the chart – although that’s definitely got plenty of fake profiles.

  10. Hi,
    I agree with Ana. I see this on our site, women join and have the need to connect and share with other women. I think they also value and place high importance on building strong relationships in a different way then men do. So whether they are online or offline, women are reaching out and connecting.

  11. You close saying that “the big question” is what’s attractive to males vs. females. I don’t think that’s the big question. I think the big question is why do you still think males and females are the only two genders to measure? NOT being snarky. For over 20 years, postmodern gender theory has been taught at all sorts of high school thru doctorate levels. Postmodern gender theory says there are more than two genders. Last year, the Pope proclaimed postmodern gender theory evil. Doesn’t that give you a clue? Really, not being snarky here. Your survey is skewed by an ethnomethodological assumption. Heh.

  12. I would have liked to have seen “heavy users” stats. People who post/utilize over 3 times per week. That would give you a better read on the community and eliminate dead accounts.

  13. That SlashDot.org has a mostly male user-base kind of goes without saying. How many women do you know outside of the major tech schools/professions who would pride themselves on reading a publication with the tagline, “News for nerds, stuff that matters?”

  14. Well, it seems like Women don’t like geek stuff like slashdot. Once the things get complex like social news sites, women tend to behave negatively towards them. Women like easy stuff. Just write, Kiss, kiss and bang!!! :)

  15. I think the internet has more female users than males in general, Most of my male friends dont even use the internet. But those are some good numbers to see as a guy. In terms of twitter i still feel a bit uncomfortable saying send me a “tweet” or you can find me i’m on twitter. Every female friend i know has a facebook account

  16. These statistics are interesting. I was surprised to see that females actually dominate facebook, myspace and twitter, but like one of the comments stated: women do converse more. This does help for people trying to target in on their markets. Thanks for the information.

  17. The fact that Slashdot, Digg and Reddit have more male users is clearly unrefutable proof that men are more intelligent and aware of the world around them and i will hear no argument.

    1. @Mullet both your username and spelling indicate you must be one of the biggest dumbasses of the internet. And that was BEFORE I even read your comment.

  18. @Kate Bornstein

    Not saying you’re being intentionally difficult, but this study was obviously aimed at sexes, not genders. I am unsure why you chose to bring up transgendered issues when the stats have nothing to do with that. You can choose to identify with whatever gender you want and it won’t alter these statistics in the slightest.

  19. I think only now women becoming more tech savvy. Because guys have always been very interested in technology and most of these sites might focus on technology based information which attracts more male users. Its just a opinion but i am not meaning to say that woman are not tech savvy but they are becoming one.

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