Curious really, and there doesn’t seem to be any obvious explanation, but when Google+ opened for business and issued its new Invitation Only accounts, three quarters of accounts opened were opened by men.
Weird, huh? After all, the raison d’etre of Google+ is to challenge, beat, destroy and grind Facebook and LinkedIn into the cyberspace dust. (My words not Google’s. OK, I’m not taking this social media battle too seriously. Who would?) (Apart from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.)
But still, it’s peculiar that Google+ got off to such a gender-unbalanced start when it’s designed to take users from its two rivals – and the two rivals are heavily used by girls and women.
Google executives issued the original Google+ invites in the summer of 2011. Were they heavily weighted towards male net users? Are male net users earlier adopters of social media than female net users? If Google’s invitiations were evenly balanced between the sexes, where the gender imbalance come from?
The social news site Mashable.com was the first to report that around 75% of Google+ new account holders were male. Pete Cashmore is Mashable’s CEO. While not explaining the gender imbalance, he commented that it could hurt Google’s aim of taking the lead in social media online:
“I’d say this is a bit worrisome for Google+’s mainstream ambitions. Digg appeared to have trouble ‘crossing the chasm’ and its largely young male audience may have contributed by dissuading other groups to join. Facebook is the other way: more females than males.”
Google will certainly know that women weren’t opening Google+ accounts as readily as men at the outset. It will be interesting to see whether they’ll try to redress the gender imbalance though it’s hard to see what might be effective in attracting more female users.
Google has said that they’re after ordinary net users and business users too with Google+. Google’s product manager, Christian Oestlien, outlined Google’s strategy for Google+, speaking on YouTube:
“We’re very much focused on optimising for the consumer experience, but we have a great team of engineers building a similarly optimised business experience for Google+. It’ll include things like rich analytics and the ability to connect that identity to other parts of Google that businesses might use on a daily basis like AdWords.”
With a strategy like that – going after home users and business users – you can’t afford to leave females….half the population, out of your calculations!
Maybe Google’s got too male? Too macho, too masculine? They are come to think of it quite top-heavy with Serges, Larrys and Christians. Out of interest, I had a look at the Google top management to see how well represented women are. Spot any imbalance in the line-up below?!
Larry Page , Google Inc.
Eric E. Schmidt , Google Inc.
Sergey Brin , Google Inc.
L. John Doerr , Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
John L. Hennessy , Stanford University
Paul S. Otellini , Intel Corporation
K. Ram Shriram , Sherpalo Ventures
Shirley M. Tilghman , Princeton University
Google executive officers
Nikesh Arora , Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer
David C. Drummond , Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
Patrick Pichette , Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Only kidding. It’s not essential to have female directors in order to design products for women.
But still, there’s a lot at stake for Google with Google+. The company’s ranking as the world’s number one internet search engine could be put in jeopardy by net users whiling away their online time on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Google intends to dominate social media as they dominate online searching. That means they’ll need to pay attention to the gender imbalance that has popped up at Google+.
Google+ may have all kinds of appeal for individuals and businesses – but it won’t beat Facebook or LinkedIn unless it appeals to males and females.
(Come to think of it, Google+ is a geeky, mathematical-sounding male kind of a name….)