Women Dominate the Social Media Influencer Industry

The global influencer industry is worth $10 billion. Social media influencers hold sway over everything from our clothes to our food, where we travel and our political opinions. And in this industry, women are leading the charge. 

A staggering 77% of influencers are female. This far surpasses the number of females in any other industry; even in the porn industry, which famously employs more women than men, only 70% of performers are female.  

Why do so many more women than men believe that social media offers a viable career path for them? 

There are several reasons why women may be more inclined to becoming influencers. First and foremost, many female entrepreneurs are less able to access traditional Venture Capital funding to bring their start-ups to life. Last year, female founders only received a shocking 2.2% of VC funding worldwide. Turning to social media therefore offers female entrepreneurs a way to build their brand and develop a following without needing vast amounts of funding.  

The disproportionately high number of female influencers can also be explained a second way. The stereotype of an ‘influencer’ as a young millennial or Gen Z female who likes to take selfies is largely inaccurate. Women of all ages and backgrounds are turning to social media to make their mark including mothers and women who have other ‘day jobs’. The self-employed nature of being a social media influencer empowers these women to run their social media empires without – or around – the lifestyle of a traditional 9-to-5 job. 

girls play with blocks with babies Marisa Howenstine The boom of social media influencers has empowered women all over the world to start businesses and build brands. The sheer magnitude of female influencers has in turn given women unprecedented control over the advertising and marketing industries. In a historically male-dominated industry, female influencers can now steer the way products and campaigns are marketed. One standout result of this is the emphasis that many social media campaigns now place on body positivity. Campaigns like the Dove #ShowUs campaign promote ‘real women’ and diminish the power of unattainable beauty standards. Beauty brands like Glossier have built up their entire business from influencer channels and they promote authenticity and letting your personality shine instead of caking on heavy makeup.  

However, some information does indicate a more sexist underside of the influencer industry. For starters, there is some evidence of a pay gap between male and female influencers. There is also evidence of double standards in how female and male influencers are expected to behave and present themselves. For example, female influencers are typically referred to as ‘influencers’ while men tend to shrink away from that term and prefer to be called ‘content creators’ or ‘entrepreneurs’. 

While the influencer industry offers many opportunities for entrepreneurial women to build their own brands and make money, it is not an industry removed from double standards. Influencer culture has quickly become a seminal marketing strategy for our generation, but female influencers still need to take care to promote authenticity and represent ‘real women’ on social media.