The Gender Divide: Are Men better than Women at Social Networking?

June 22, 2011

Women are more savvy networkers in the ranching industry. Men are more savvy networkers in the cosmetics industry. Wait, what? That was exactly our reaction when we saw the initial results for our latest data insights blog post on the differences in social networking behavior between men and women.

The overall result in the US is that men are overall more savvy networkers than women, but the real insights start to surface when you start slicing and dicing by industry and company. Check out the infographic below highlighting some main insights, followed by more details and discussion below.

Men are more savvy networkers globally, but the data show that men and women exhibit differences in their online professional networking behaviors. People we’ve polled were not surprised that industries like “Law Enforcement” and “Capital Markets” are male savvy, but “Cosmetics” really stands as a male savvy industry given that it’s a female oriented industry. The same is true for the top female savvy industries, “Ranching” and “Tobacco”, which stand out since many would consider them a male bastion.

In the middle are industries where men and women are equally savvy about networking in similar ways: “Market Research,” “Media Production,” “Dairy,” “Individual and Family Services” and “Paper & Forest Products.”

Companies and Gender Savviness [1]

Another cool cut of the data is when we look at savviness at the company level. In the US, some examples of companies where males are the more savvy networkers are Walmart, Kaiser Permanente, and, surprisingly, Mary Kay (a majority / women oriented company). Best Buy is a highly female savvy company, as are Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. And, then there are companies like Comcast that fall right in the middle -- “neutral savviness” part -- of the spectrum.

Wrap up

Our results on gender differences in online professional networking behavior are in line with research showing gender differences in social network sharing, competition, multitasking, etc. In the case of our data, there are several things relating to gender that could explain the results: seniority, job function, desire for the minority gender to connect with the majority gender (or stay close to the minority gender), etc.

Our goal with this post was not necessarily to test any of these hypotheses but instead to surface differences and spark a discussion as to why the behaviors in each industry or company exist.

Do you see similar behavior in your industry or company? Comment away...

Also, if you’re into data like we are, and are interested in working on a world-class Data Science team, let us know @linkedin.

[1] To generate our “networking savviness” index, the Analytics Team grabbed the current industry, current company, and professional connections for our members in the US. We also needed to know the gender of each of our members. We don’t ask our members for this during the registration process, but we can guess a person’s gender using their first name and some previously established techniques using a database of baby names.

With this data in our hands, and working with the inspiration of the piñatas hanging over our desks and the soothing hum of the Analytics Team’s kegerator, we came up with a definition of our online professional networking “savviness” index. 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.