Women are less savvy than men at social networking, according to the social scientists over at LinkedIn. On Wednesday, the professional networking site published a report comparing habits of men and women on the platform and found that, in general, men are better at making connections and advancing their careers via social networking. "Women can sometimes shy away from networking because they associate it with schmoozing or doling out business cards, when in reality, it's about building relationships before you actually need them," said Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn in an interview with Media Post. But it appears the company's hypothesis could be quite a stretch. First off, notice how they measured the relative "savviness" of men and women:
We measure networking “savviness” as a ratio of two things: 1) the ratio of one-way connections that men have to connections that women have, and 2) the ratio of male members on LinkedIn to female members. We label an industry as “female savvy” when, for example, 45% of the industry is female and where women have 70% of the connections. A perfectly neutral industry is one in which the % of females in the industry is equal to the % of connections that women have in the industry.
The study acknowledges that "several things relating to gender" could explain their results, including "seniority, job function, desire for the minority gender to connect with the majority gender (or stay close to the minority gender), etc." But the study appears to have a flaw given that the savviness of women is reliant on the number of women who use LinkedIn and, as a Pew Research Center report found this month, LinkedIn is one of the few social networks that has fewer women than men. Notice in the chart how in fact, on all other platforms listed, women significantly outnumber men as users:
Additionally, Mark Walsh at Media Post notes a comScore report that differs with the LinkedIn report.
Other studies, however, suggest women are at least as active, if not more so, in social networking online as men. According to a comScore study last year, "Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet," social sites reach a higher percentage of women than men globally, with 75.8% of all women online visiting a social networking site in May 2010 versus 69.7% of men.
The study found women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men's 4 hours.
Oh well! At least they made a spiffy infographic for their report: