Is LinkedIn the New Old Boys Network?

According to the new Pew Internet study Social Networking Sites and our Lives there are nearly twice as many male LinkedIn users as female. What gives?

Social media usage by gender

So what accounts for this disparity? More males in the workforce? Do men prefer LinkedIn’s brand of simple, stripped down, business-oriented networking?

For what it is worth, females have stronger participation overall and in every other social network that was examined. In fact the male/female usage percentages are the exact opposite on Twitter.

That’s interesting in and of itself, as marketers sometimes (over) generalize that men prefer Twitter while Facebook is more appealing to women.

How about age? While MySpace continues to have a strong pull with younger demographics the age distribution is fairly even across the other social media sites, although users age 50+ prefer both Facebook and LinkedIn over Twitter:

Social media usage by age

The Pew Internet study also takes a detailed look at specific activity on Facebook by age and gender that is worth checking out.


  1. says

    Adam, very interesting post. On the PR groups I belong to on LinkedIn, my observation is that males aren’t the majority if you could somehow look at PR group only stats. Useful broad brush view for marketers but always subject to gut check when looking at niches.

  2. says

    Thanks Jeff, that’s a good point. Specific to PR I believe there are more females in the industry, so it makes sense that there tends to be more females in the PR groups on LinkedIn. I wonder if that holds true across all industries. If it does, and if there are are more men employed in an number of industries, perhaps that’s part of the overall disparity.

  3. says

    This is interesting data. I think that LinkedIn appeals more to men because of its business-oriented nature. While it’s not necessary to have a Facebook or Twitter profile (unless you are in certain social media related industries), a LinkedIn profile has become one of the best ways to network and find out about job leads.

  4. says

    I agree Nick, the main functionality of LinkedIn is pretty straightforward networking and in its simplest form its almost like online contact management. Though I will say that many LinkedIn groups are very active, and LinkedIn has continued to add more features and functionality over the years.

    But you’re right there are lots of people who don’t feel the need to be professionally active on Facebook or Twitter that do basic networking on LinkedIn. Maybe more of those users are men.

  5. says

    Interesting results. I prefer LinkedIn for my professional networking and use it to promote my business, but Facebook for personal contact with friends. Being female I guess that fits right in with the results.

  6. Christopher L.Osborne says

    I was wondering if linked In was a site for job searching?
    I’m a first year college student in a four year program of business administration. I would like to major in accounting.
    I have work experience but most of it is in automotive and manufacturing.
    I would like to find a job in data entry if I could.

  7. Vasco Arriaga says

    that’s probably because there’s the perception that linkedIn is more ‘acceptable’ and ‘mature’ than other SNS, whether it is correct or not.

  8. says

    I suspect it may be driven by industry norms, with gender following as a correlating factor, not a cause.

    E.g. in industries such as tech, where there’s a lot of contracting, most people are on LinkedIn. The tech industry is very male (e.g. software developers about 80%), therefore lots of men on the site.
    However in female-dominated employment sectors, such as nursing, teaching and the public sector, it’s not an industry norm to be on LinkedIn – therefore fewer women on the site.
    Furthermore, more women than men are out of the workforce due to caring for family, and are thus not using LinkedIn.

    So it’s not about LinkedIn having a male culture, so much as a strong orientation towards certain industries where LinkedIn is used more.

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