How men and women behave on Twitter and Pinterest — Since its inception in 2010, Pinterest has been dogged by unfair criticism. The site is too girly, critics say—there’s too much emphasis on brunch dates, wedding rehearsal dinners and home decorating tips. All the curlicues, nosegays and cupcakes drove the boys away. The site needs more giant monsters, robots and superheroes.

Betty Crockers Cook Book Gender

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

To be fair, Pinterest was simply a reflection of its initial membership launch. If people want to post photos of flower arrangements and Christmas decorations, so be it. But much of the site’s criticism had a deeper subtext, mainly: do sexual stereotypes hold true on the Internet? Are men and women forever and hopelessly locked inside a gender cage? Surely tech has influenced cultural norms to some degree.

A recent article in Parenting magazine attempted to debunk gender clichés. “Nowadays, when a man opens the door for a lady,” the article said, “she is probably his boss.” Furthermore, there is no scientific data that says men are less empathetic or nurturing than women. Easy-Bake ovens are now being marketed toward little boys and Nerf Blasters are now loaded with pink darts. “There are no gender-specific traits,” concludes the magazine. And if that’s the case, surely both men and women can coexist on Pinterest as well as other social media sites.


Image Credit: Eric Searleman

Yet clichés persist. No matter how advanced our diversions may be, we can’t seem to escape our basic differences. Does it surprise anyone that women spend more time on Facebook than men? Facebook encourages sharing and “friending,” after all. Men, on the other hand, prefer hanging out on LinkedIn and YouTube.

For fun, we decided to do a little unscientific gender snooping on Twitter. When we did a hashtag search for “flowerarrangement,” we found a guy only nine Tweets down the list. Conversely, when we typed in “heavymetal,” we spotted a female only three Tweets down the timeline. We’re happy to report that both men and women share a passion for festoons and Megadeth.

Still, 70 percent of traffic on Pinterest comes from its female membership. In many ways this number debunks the myth that men are more visual than women. Pinterest, after all, is mainly a digital pin board.

Statistical analysis aside, be careful when making assumptions about gender proclivities online. The testing samples are just too big and messy to make sweeping generalizations. Marketers such as Social Graces, for example have aligned itself with the new sexual paradigm emerging online. The company’s tagline is “Be polished. Be pleasing. And always, be polite”—really about how to behave in the social media world—is a nod to civility and decorum associated with the sexes. In other words, let’s just hang out together, whether it’s practicing our flower arranging or watching videos.

Eric Searleman
Based in San Francisco, Eric Searleman is an editor at Eric has worked as a newspaper reporter, a fiction editor and a comic book artist. Email him at [email protected]
Eric Searleman
Eric Searleman
Tags: Social Media,Tech Culture,Technology
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