A Techcrunch post this week created quite a stir with its assertion that “women rule the internet.” Blogger Aileen Lee writes that “Female users are the unsung heroines behind the most engaging, fastest growing, and most valuable consumer internet and e-commerce companies” (hmm, this reminds us of another post about Silicon Valley’s powerful women, with their invisibility and superb “caretaker” skills).
Unfortunately, for a piece that should be ultra-modern (technology! the interwebs!), the post reads like nothing more than tired gender stereotypes. It quickly becomes clear that by “rule the internet” the author meant “shop on the internet:”
"Sites like Zappos (>$1 billion in revenue last year), Groupon ($760m last year), Gilt Groupe ($500m projected revenue this year), Etsy (over $300m in GMV last year), and Diapers ($300m estimated revenue last year) are all driven by a majority of female customers."
These shopping sites struck us as relatively one dimensional (women love shoes! and clipping coupons! and jewelry! and crafting! and BABIES!). The next paragraph begins: “Women even shop more on Chegg, which offers textbook rentals on college campuses across the country.” Is it just us, or does this sentence read as incredibly offensive? Women even buy textbooks!? What do they need those for? They’ll buy ANYTHING!
The article does move beyond women’s purchasing patterns and on to their collective social skills, pointing out that women are both the majority and the most active users on facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites. Why? The author breaks it down for us: “Women are thought to be more social, more interested in relationships and connections, better at multi-tasking." That’s right ladies! Tweet your friends, poke your exes, update your online dating profile - all at once. What a skill!
"And more women use Twitter, which has a reputation for being a techie insider’s (i.e., male) product." First of all, is Twitter really a “techie insider’s” product? We have to say, we think it’s pretty mainstream (everyone from your 13-year-old cousin to 80-year-old William Shatner has a twitter account). And, what’s with this “i.e. male” assertion? Perhaps the author meant that technology is thought to be generally male-dominated (lady engineer readers, what say you?), but this over-simplified statement just reads as offensive.
Blogic firmly believes that ruling the internet does not mean shopping and catching up with friends. So who does rule the internet, and how is that defined? We brainstormed a short list of categories, and we know that there are plenty of talented, powerful women in each.
Who rules the internet, according to Blogic:
- Developers, code writers, and all of those people who actually make the internet work. Also, those who use their skills for hacking.
- Innovators: those who come up with the new concepts that change the way we use the internet and interact with the world (e.g. Twitter, google).
- Prolific bloggers, and journalists who understand the power of the internet and how to use it.
- Designers: you know, the people responsible for the internet not looking like this anymore.
What are we missing? Add your ideas in the comments.