Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women. Men also have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users follow each other. This “follower split” suggests that women are driven less by followers than men, or have more stringent thresholds for reciprocating relationships. This is intriguing, especially given that females hold a slight majority on Twitter: we found that men comprise 45% of Twitter users, while women represent 55%. To get this figure, we cross-referenced users’ “real names” against a database of 40,000 strongly gendered names.
Even more interesting is who follows whom. We found that an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman.
There’s a claim made by researchers at Harvard Business School that men are followed disproportionately on Twitter. That may be true on a straightline basis. But there may be more – or less — here than the authors make out. The fact is, we can’t tell yet.
A first order question is, “What is the correct denominator in this rate? What’s the expected value of the rate of male-male follow?” Then, “What’s the observed deviation and to what extent is it attributable to gender?” We don’t think the authors are in a position to answer that yet, based on the data they’ve offered.