Women Flock to Social Networks: Will They Dump Dating Sites to "Make Friends" Safely?

Recent data shows that the number of women logging on to social-networking sites far exceeds the number of men. Information is Beautiful recently presented the information, as gathered by Google Ad Planner.

Information Is Beautiful Infographic LinkedIn and YouTube bring in an equal number of men and women, but evidently far more women than men are flocking to Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace—64% of MySpace users, for example, are female. Digg is the only site that attracts more men.

So what's bringing women to these sites? Mark Brooks, a social networking and online dating analyst, says safety may be a driving factor. Pew Research reported earlier this year that 20% of adults on social networking sites are there for dating, while 49% are there to make new friends.

So people want to extend their social networks, but aren't ready to date. "Online dating sites offer a level of anonymity, but social networking sites, you can see a person's friends, how they interact," says Brooks. "More and more we're defining ourselves by the company we keep on social networks. It creates a sense of accountability, of safety."

It makes sense, given how Harvard Business School recently reported that men are much more likely to reciprocate relationships on Twitter than are women. Compared to other social networking sites, Twitter offers much less information about its users. That decreased level of accountability could be the reason that fewer women forge new relationships on Twitter.

It has also been speculated that "misery" is driving women to these sites (really?). Brooks says it's simpler than that. "Women have more to say—dare I say it?" he offers. "What better way to express yourself than on a social network, the ultimate circle of friends?"

[image via Information is Beautiful]

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6 Comments

  • Daniel Bonnell

    Check out www.Sweetr.net a great site that I found on Facebook with they're Party With Me application. Lets you remain anonymous on fb and speak on Sweetr. Smart and FREE!!

  • Susie Blackmon

    Geeze, I prefer Twitter and love SM, but I'm sure not on there to make 'friends' in the Dating sense. I'm there to learn. If I'm looking to find a date, look for me at the NFR Finals Rodeo (or anywhere Cowboys congregate for that matter). I won't be sending farm requests or mafia requests from Facebook I can assure you.

  • Erin Rasmussen

    I was talking to a good friend about the similarity between our online lives and our offline lives. I have geographically far flung friends, and social networking makes communicating with them easy, so my online friends are my offline friends

    I pay just as much attention to my guy friends as my women friends (to rebut the harvard thing). In fact my guy friends are uber-cliquey on facebook, and my women friends are less so, and more likely to communicate publicly with more than one or two people.

  • Gen Hendrey

    The graphic above shows Facebook use, for example, at 57% female. True, in numbers, that's "far more women" than men. But as a percentage, it's not really amazing, or anything. It would be interesting to see if the numbers hold steady at all hours of the day, 7-days a week, or for users under age-18.

    I have a pragmatic question. What adults are able to social network during the day? Many occupations may make it easy, but how about secretary or admin assistant? Internet access, employees who are usually smarter than what their job requires and can quickly handle their work tasks, free minutes or hours at work that must be spent sitting at one's desk? Check!

    And it's hardly a false stereotype that these Admins are all female.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that "secretaries and administrative assistants held more than 4.2 million jobs in 2006, ranking it among the largest occupations in the U.S. economy," and that these employees "today perform fewer clerical tasks and are increasingly taking on the roles of information and communication managers." And the U.S. Census Bureau says fully 97% of secretaries and AAs are female. It seems legitimate to wonder if this profession alone is capable of impacting the gender "disparity" in social network use.

    I'm not a statistician, and I don't know if this concept would pan out if examined more closely. Yet it seems that a question that's *at least* as worthy of consideration as "are women miserable?" is "is there a difference between the amount of weekly time that men and women are easily able to spend on social networks, on average?"

    Additionally, the emphasis on dating really gets stale, and with regard to networks like Facebook and users over age-25, seems to make some pretty strange assumptions. "People want to extend their social networks, but aren't ready to date." This is off base for this demographic. Not ready to date online? Sixty-percent of U.S. households are headed by couples (married, or not). Of the tens of millions of adults in a non-cohabitating relationship, each such couple will account for 2 more households. And in at least one demographic likely to be single (the elderly widowed and divorced), social networking is infrequent to start with. None of these types of individuals should be reasonably expected to use Facebook for dating. It isn't that adults "aren't ready," it's that most of them "aren't on the market."

  • Kandy White

    Maybe women are using these site for "dating services" but I believe that women actually use these sites for connections for business if the woman is a business woman not for "dating"