Women in academic medicine have substantially less influence on Twitter than men, regardless of how active they are, a study finds.
A team of researchers led by Rachel M. Werner, MD, PhD, a professor of General Internal Medicine at Penn Medicine identified twitter users from a sample pool of more than 3,148 speakers and coauthors of research presented at a large medical academic meeting in the US.
Results showed that while the women followed a similar number of people and posted a similar number of tweets per year as their male colleagues, tweets posted by women generated 45 percent fewer average likes and 48 percent fewer retweets per year compared to men, and their accounts also accumulated half as many followers.
Disparities were most pronounced among those with full professorships.
“By giving women an accessible and seemingly equitable platform on which to present themselves, some hoped that social media would help level the playing field in academic medicine,” said Professor Werner.
“However, our study clearly shows that unfortunately women’s voices are less influential, even on Twitter, which suggests social media may in fact have the opposite effect.”
Nevertheless, the authors noted that their findings did show some glimmers of hope.
“Similar rates of Twitter use between genders suggest that social media offers women opportunities for engagement, perhaps with fewer barriers than may be present in day-to-day academic interactions. Moreover, the differences in influence on Twitter were less pronounced among junior researchers, suggesting greater gender parity among younger cohorts,” they wrote in their paper which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.