Saturday, December 28, 2013

Is Social Media Making Us Poor?

I like a good “selfie” as much as the next person. I, along with 41 percent of millennials, regularly post pictures of myself on social media. If I spend 30 minutes on my makeup, then go to dinner with my family, my parents sure don’t care. I've got to show the social media friends who will give some respect and maybe even a “like.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, millennials are on the forefront of the social media trends. You could call us the connoisseurs of social media. On average, millennial women follow 22 brands on social media and 79 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 feel that feedback on their social content is important to them. The social media savvy like to post about our new jobs (42 percent of women updated a new job status within a week), our failed relationships (45 percent of women updated their new relationship status within a week), and even our food (35 percent of millennials regularly post pictures of food they made). Social media is a new way for what has been called the “me generation” to talk, post, and chat about ourselves.

But is this tendency towards social media hurting our ability to progress in the workforce? The Conference Board of Canada recently released a study saying that due to an “unconscious bias,” young women are less likely to be given better job opportunities. The Board says that this bias manifests itself in the form of “underestimating young women as being too young, or not ready, to assume increasingly more challenging leadership roles.” Despite the fact that 74 percent of millennial women in the workplace were identified as “high performers” compared to 66 percent of millennial men, we’re still not getting the promotions. Why?
Though the study doesn’t explore the source of this bias, I have to ask myself, is it because of our attachment to social media that older generations see younger women as immature and unreliable? Not only do millennials tend to use social media more often than older generations, but women also rely on it more than men. 71 percent of women use social networking sites compared to 62 percent of men. Plus, while men dominate sites like Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube, women make up the majority of users for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. And while the average user stays on LinkedIn for 17 minutes, users, on average, spend 89 minutes on Tumblr and Pinterest and 405 minutes on Facebook. So it would seem that women tend to spend more time on sites that are less related to their actual jobs.      

Is it possible that this “unconscious bias” against young women is due to our dependence on the same sites where Kim Kardashian posts pictures of her butt and Grumpy Cat found his 15 minutes of fame? Women, like me, are posting selfies, Instagram-ming our lunches, and tweeting our daily experiences like they’re breaking news. Does this make us look less responsible and less ready for promotion in the workplace than our male counterparts? Though there’s no definitive evidence to point one way or the other, I would argue yes. Even if your boss doesn’t see your drunken weekend tweets, he sees women all over the world, especially young women, revealing their every thought to the worldwide web. Unfortunately, there’s a stereotype and, even more unfortunately, it’s at least partly true. So all of this research begs the question: is social media making us millennial women poor?

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