September 12, 2013

It’s a woman’s (social media) world


The average gap between the proportion of men and women who use social media

For many Americans, posting a status update or commenting on a photo has become a ubiquitous part of their daily routine. It is easy to forget just how quickly social media usage has grown. Five years ago, just 29% of online adults used social networking sites. Today, that figure has more than doubled to 72%.

social world 1Historically, women have been especially avid users. Between December 2009 and December 2012, women were significantly more likely than men to use social networking sites in nine out of ten surveys we conducted. During this period, the proportion of women who used social media sites was 10 percentage points higher than men on average. When we include earlier surveys and our latest reading (spanning May 2008 through May 2013), the average difference falls slightly to 8%. Currently, three-quarters (74%) of online women use social networking sites.

social world 2Across different sites, men and women have varying degrees of engagement. Among internet users, women are significantly more likely than men to use Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. A roughly equal proportion of men and women use Twitter and Tumblr, respectively. reddit is the only site we’ve measured in which men are significantly more likely than women to be users.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Gender, Social Networking, Social Media, Internet Activities

  1. Photo of Maeve Duggan

    is a research associate focusing on internet and technology at Pew Research Center.


  1. Basra2 years ago

    Hi, the people who you interviewed for this study, where they all American or was it an international survey? ( Please let me know asap) IMPORTANT. thanks

  2. Khoa Huynh3 years ago

    What was the sample size for this data?

  3. Sudhir Sajwan3 years ago


    1. chris to fer cl ean2 years ago

      aint that right

  4. ashad hossain4 years ago

    During this period, the proportion of women who used social media sites was 10 percentage points higher than men on average.

  5. Duncan Stewart4 years ago

    A couple of observations on this data:

    1) The volatility in the size of the gender gap is high. In August of 2012 women were 12% (1200 basis points, actually) higher than men in use of social media, but in May of 2013 that gap had narrowed to only 4%.

    2) If you look at the second chart, you have to wonder how much of the ‘gender divide’ is due to a single social network: 25% of women use Pinterest, and only 5% of men. Ex-Pinterest, I would expect the gender gap to be within the survey’s measurement error, and not therefore significant.

    1. Maeve Duggan4 years ago

      In all of the data we collect, there is some natural fluctuation. In this case, the overall trend of women using social networking sites at higher rates has been fairly consistent over the last few years. This is certainly a trend we plan to keep tracking in the future.

      As for the charts, they are measuring slightly different things. The first is based on a general (broad) measure of social networking site usage of any kind, while the second is based on specific sites taken at various times during the last year. While those figures are not directly comparable, women are significantly more likely to use a number of social networking platforms – including Facebook, which is by far the most-used overall of the bunch.

      1. Duncan Stewart4 years ago

        Thanks Maeve. My first concern is that while looking at a rolling average on the first chart does make the gap more consistent over time, it could also mask an inflection point, if men are in fact narrowing the social media gap. Second, I understand the second chart…but would you not agree that if you somehow asked about social media participation, and specifically asked respondents to not include Pinterest…that the male/female gap would be narrower, perhaps even much narrower?

  6. Julie Pell4 years ago

    Are there no results for Google+?

    1. Maeve Duggan4 years ago

      In some preliminary data collection we’ve done, we found that people may be confused as to which Google services they are actually using or how they are linked (e.g., gmail vs. Google+ vs. Google docs, etc). We don’t want to ask a question until we are confident we are measuring what we intend. So we have not asked a standalone platform question on Google+ yet.

  7. Ricardo Moreno Contreras4 years ago

    Why the first chart says “Twitter” at the end?

    1. Maeve Duggan4 years ago

      Great catch! We fixed the chart, thanks for reading!