I’ve never been more impressed than I am by the teenage girls running the internet on a daily basis.
While this sentiment may sound exaggerated I’m far from over-selling the full time job many girls consider social media. In my personal observations, between adolescent-dominated Stan Twitter, TikTok editors, BookTok and Instagram meme pages, if you own a phone chances are teens are the heart that keeps your social media feed beating.
These special interests often manifest into a career in communications. But despite the ability to turn a niche obsession into a fulfilling lifestyle being beyond impressive, disparaging views of these fields belittle considerably impressive opportunities, painting communications careers as the easy way out.
Social media isn’t an easy world to grasp. The manner in which women are raised has everything to do with why the communications field is female dominated. And the fact that this career field is female-centric explains why it’s treated with such little respect.
A TikTok by user @m0lliemae points out the primary reasons women hold the reins to the world of social media. She highlights that social networks require “great social skills, compassion, flexibility, creativity, and strong analytical skills,” arguing these attributes are held by women somewhat naturally as a result of their positioning in society.
Among scientific spheres, the technical term for this is gender socialization.
Gender socialization is the process of learning how to perform your gender within a specific cultural context. This priming results in many of the attributes society paints as intrinsic. Male socialization encourages emotional repression, and fewer limits are placed on outward behaviors. Consider the “boys will be boys” ideal which validates unruly conduct as an inherent product of manhood. I’d argue women are socialized in a stricter manner than men, which encourages a harmony with social cultures men may find complicated.
The book “Queen Bees & Wannabes” which inspired the popular movie “Mean Girls” points to the intricacies of female society for young adults, or “Girl World.” The interactions of young women are often dismissed as a series of petty dramas spawned by girls overly obsessed with boys and status, but the real “Girl World” is much more complicated. How girls interact with one another is the result of a deep understanding of social practices and a considerable knowledge of social mobility within the structure of high school.
This keen ability to socialize is even greater when applied to social media, which requires an analytical eye because text and image is more nuanced than spoken word. Beyond this, the ideal of beauty is greatly aligned with traditional female gender roles. This encourages women to stay up to date with current beauty and fashion trends, because society tells them they must fit the beauty standard in order to be relevant and respectable.
Thus, women on social media must keep their finger on the pulse of social networks and predict what might be popular next. While to many social media is random, to those that pay attention its cyclical nature appears obvious.
The array of skills required to effectively garner a following on social media is vast. Despite this, social media managers are often viewed as mere “interns.” As discussed in @m0lliemae’s TikTok, often women in this field are underpaid and undervalued and called “the social media girl” as if the job is unimportant or silly. This is due to a lack of respect offered to female dominated fields.
Women have found ways to work within the oppressive nature of traditional gender roles to yield considerable careers. However, traditionally female roles are invalidated the minute they become profitable. This phenomenon extends far beyond communications.
While cooking was once viewed as a must for women, the restaurant industry is a male dominated field. Makeup isn’t considered a true art form. Teaching is the job you do when you can’t do anything else.
The world of social media is a cage painted in a brilliant pink and adorned with flowers. We all know the harms of social networks. Consider the Facebook whistleblower who pointed out the company’s awareness of the harm social media was inflicting on young girls. Once young women started to work within this cage, bending the bars and freeing themselves of its harmful nature to build a career from something once damaging, society began the invalidation process.
Social media jobs and the women who excel at them should be offered the same amount of respect as any other field — especially considering how important social networks have become for businesses. “Girl World” is as valid as the boy’s clubs we’ve all come to accept as the norm.