Social media carves out a space for individuals to express their preferences and interests while creating a digital identity. For the most part, people often fall into certain social categories with predictable preferences. This article will explore one of the predictable distinctions – that of gender – by analyzing common ‘likes’ on Facebook through the percentages of men and women who ‘liked’ certain activities, films, music and technology on Facebook. While most categories fit a gendered pattern, technology appears to be devoid of gender bias.
Activities women take the ‘like’ lead on include dancing, shopping and cooking. These traditionally feminine categories are contrasted with rugby ‘likes’, 68 percent of which are by men. Is it a coincidence that men lead in ‘likes’ only in a traditionally masculine activity? Let’s keep exploring to get a better picture.
In the Interests section of the infographic gender norms continue to dominate, as knitting is predominantly liked by women, not men (76 percent vs 24 percent). Similarly, the ‘likes’ for marriage are split, with women making up 73 percent of the ‘likes’, with men contributing the other 27 percent. Skateboarding skews the distribution in the opposite direction, with 64 percent male ‘likes’ and 36 percent female ‘likes’.
One may assume that movies, television and music are more gender-neutral categories, as there are plenty of women who are first in line for the latest action flick, as well as men who watch The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing religiously. However, these broad interests are not necessarily reflected in Facebook likes, as people appear to adhere to digital stereotypes even if these choices do not accurately reflect real life. For instance, 86 percent of ‘likes’ for the Twilight Series are women, while 73 percent of Star Wars ‘likes’ are men. Similarly, 66 percent of the ‘likes’ for the TV show Ice Road Truckers are male.
The distribution of male and female likes is telling. Traditionally feminine TV shows and films are liked almost entirely by women. Though traditionally male shows are also liked mostly by men, the percentage of female likes is uniformly higher. From Ice Road Truckers to skateboarding to AC/DC, women are more likely to indicate a preference for masculine interests, albeit in a minority, rather than the reverse. This can perhaps be explained by the varying levels of social acceptance of men adopting feminine preferences as opposed to women adopting masculine preferences. While a woman may be considered a tomboy or the ‘girl next door’ if she listens to classic rock and watches Ice Road Truckers, a man who reads Twilight and knits may not have similar positive social associations. It is also possible that implicit or unconscious bias renders women liking male-dominated trends cool, whereas men liking female-dominated trends is seen as weak or bizarre.
Though strong gender distinctions were clear in the previous categories, the gadget section serves as an interesting contrast. While one would assume that the gadget category would be predominantly male due to its connection to science and technology, which are still male-dominated fields, the percentages are close to equal, at times with a majority of ‘likes’ by women.
While more men (64 percent) liked laptops, women took the ultrabook category with 60 percent. Ultrabooks are lightweight yet powerful and their ‘aesthetics’ make them more appealing to women. Similarly, more women liked tablet computers than men at 58 percent to 42 percent. Men take a narrow lead with smartphone likes with 54 percent. While the likes are not 50/50, they appear to be within a much closer range than the other categories. This can be attributed to several factors. Electronics are not gendered in the same way that certain television shows and performance artists are. Products such as the ultrabook are not usually advertised or promoted as gender-specific devices, but are instead sold based on the merit of fast processors or chic design. The contrast can easily be discerned when comparing the average electronics commercial to the adolescent-girl-dominated frenzy surrounding the Twilight series, which was arguably envisioned and promoted by film studios. While there are still varied preferences in the realm of electronics, from those who prefer Apple or Android to those who invest in a new ultrabook over a traditional laptop, these decisions do not appear to be based on gender.
The infographic was originally posted on wallblog.co.uk.