Is there equal engagement across genders on social? We explore the gender gap in the top authors on Facebook to find out.

Today more than ever, engagement on social dictates what and who is read. Further, social engagement levels can show which reporters are not being read, thus demonstrating which perspectives and voices might be missed on social.

We used NewsWhip Analytics to examine the distribution of women reporters in the list of top-engaged reporters during June to examine if a gender gap exists in the top authors being engaged with on social. 

The gender gap in media 

According to the Women’s Media Center, women report on news less frequently than men and receive far fewer bylines. The Center’s 2017 report noted that women report on less news across mediums, including broadcast, print, and digital. With gender disparity clear across media, we wondered what social data could reveal about the gender gap in digital engagement.

The Women’s Media Center’s most recent study from 2017 found that the gender gap in media is most acute in TV news, followed by print and wire services. Notably, the gender gap is least prominent in online media and the study reported that men receive 53.9 percent of bylines in online news.

But how does this gender gap in media translate to social engagements?

The gender gap in Facebook engagement 

We dove into the data of top-engaged content on Facebook for July 2018 and examined the representation in the bylines with top overall and top average engagement. (As we’ve noted previously, our measurement comes from publishers who attribute their authors in their metadata).

Our analyses found that of the top 10 most engaged with authors on Facebook, precisely half were women. However, expanding the pool to the top 50 articles tipped the gender scale, and only 44 percent were written by women.

Most of the women who gained on-average the most engagement per article on Facebook were staff writers at established news outlets like HuffPost and Slate.

As well, the trend in the top women authors engaged with on Facebook point to celebrity potential to drive engagement, with former First Lady Laura Bush achieving the third-highest average Facebook engagement for the month.

We also saw that partisan sites dominated the publications where women authors gained top overall engagement on Facebook. This mimics the trends we have seen when analyzing top publication engagement on Facebook.

The gender gap in engagement across social platforms 

According to the Women’s Media Center, women are more likely to report on lifestyle, health, and education news while men dominate sports, weather, and crime and justice. This trend can also be seen in social engagement, where women dominate engagement on Pinterest, a platform focused primarily on sharing lifestyle content.

In contrast to top-engaged content on Facebook, most of the top-engaged content on Pinterest came from women with personal blogs rather than those writing for mainstream publications.

Ultimately, the gender gap in social media engagements mirrors the trends across other media. While women are successfully driving top engagement across social platforms, they are outnumbered by men.

Furthermore, women authors dominate lifestyle content engagement but remain unequally engaged with on breaking news platforms.

For a look at the data in this post and more, check out NewsWhip Analytics.

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