Is Google Plus a Men’s Club?

I have a question, and I once again really don’t have an answer, just some sneaking suspicions coupled with some mild and growing concerns. I’m looking for your insight.

See, the other day, as I was gathering posts on Google+ for the Blog Library, I came across a post by the well-known Robert Scoble. The post is called “Why yo momma won’t use Google Plus (and why that thrills me to no end). I read the post and it kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but I was tired and so I figured I was just feeling cranky.

However, I found that as time went on, the post kept kind of bugging me, like one of those darned fruit flies that pops up in July. There are a few things that are bothering me, and coming together with other posts I’ve read, I’m kind of feeling like Google+ is being constructed as a velvet rope, smoke-filled, dancing lady-filled men’s lounge. I don’t have an invite to Google+ so I’m not saying this is so, but I’d like to tell you why I’m feeling this way, and you can then let me know if I’m totally off track.


Issue 1: Distinguishing between “Social Media Stars” and “your mom”

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Now before you get hot under the collar, I do understand metaphorical language. By “your mom,” Scoble means the average user, and that could (technically) be a man or a woman. However, he uses the word “mom” which is generally speaking not gender neutral. Here is a phrase that caught my attention in his post:

Since most of the people who are on Google+ so far are geeks, insiders, social media stars, journalists, and other people (Google admitted tonight they are only accepting people who have strong social graphs so that they can both make sure everyone has a good first experience as well as test out some of the technology before opening it up to a wider audience) the chances normal people (metaphorically speaking, your mom) won’t hear about Google+ from normal users for quite a while.

First, who are Social Media superstars? What does “strong social graph” mean? It feels like this is this summer’s answer to last year’s Fast Company Influence Project, only now the winners will be touting their Google+ status rather than win a chance to appear on Fast Company’s cover. And why would normal people (aka your mom) be distinguished from an environment where a pleasant online experience can take place? I’ve never interacted with Robert Scoble at all on Twitter, nor have I interacted with Ashton Kutcherr. I’m still enjoying myself rather well. I probably have a lot more in common with “your mom” than I do with some of these super stars and “other people.”

Later in the post, Scoble writes:

Come on now, we geeks and early adopters and social media gurus need a place to talk free of folks who think Justin Bieber is the second coming of Christ. That’s what we have in Google+ right now. Do we really want to mess that up?

Now, granted, I don’t really consider myself a sufferer of Bieber Fever. However, I wouldn’t say that folks who do suffer from that affliction are “messing up” Twitter. They’re using it for their purposes and I’d wager a lot of them don’t know who the “social media gurus” are.

The other problem with this statement, though, hearkens back to the title. To me, feminizing the title and repeatedly using “your mom” equates people who would “mess up” Google+ with women. Am I reading into this too much?

Issue 2: Women and Technology

A lot of women know that there is an underlying belief held sacred by men – “Women can’t do technology.” I have to have my dad talk to the car guys when I take my car in for repairs because the guys simply will not listen to me. When I call the maintenance guys where I live and tell them my freezer isn’t freezing or my dryer isn’t drying, they don’t believe me. It feels like this belief, this sensation that women and technology don’t mix, is also creating an idea that women won’t like Google+ because it’s too nerdy or technologically involved.

Scoble writes, “But they haven’t yet proven that they can convince your mom to use it and that’s just fine with me.”

Again, if the post had been written about “techies versus normal people,” I don’t think I’d have this anti-woman sensation. In a lot of sentences, Scoble does distinguish between “us nerds” and “normal people.” But it’s that use of the word “mom” over and over again that raises my eyebrow and maybe even my dander.

Maybe “your mom” is a woman like Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Peggy Fitzpatrick, or Carol Roth. Maybe “your mom” is even more geeky than Larry Page. Should she still stay on Facebook?

And doesn’t “stay on Facebook with your kids and grandkids” kind of sound like “stay in the kitchen while us men work on the car?” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my ancestors whispering in my ear.

Issue 3: It’s mostly men I see talking about Google+

So far, I’ve only seen one woman write a blog post about Google+, and that was Gini Dietrich. Gini doesn’t have an invite to Google+ yet and as of the writing of her post, she felt a bit unsure about it. All of the other posts I’ve seen so far have been by men. So what does that mean? Are women fulfilling the stereotype or do we just not feel welcome?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this issue – and remember, I could be 100% on the wrong track. I’d be happy to hear it, actually!

Discuss This Article

Comments: 10

  • Sophia says:

    You are 100% on the wrong track :) So is Stoble. I think G+ is infinitely easier to use than say FB. The problem with those tech writers is they can’t relate to the real world. We – our moms and us daughters – will do just fine and I think G+ is going to be great. I aleady managed to get my 75 year old mother on and the idea of cirvles clicked instantly. It is the forced “friendships” of FB that ske can’t grasp.

  • Sophia says:

    Ack sorry about the spelling, typing on my darn Android

  • Unknown says:

    I don’t think it’s fair for you to judge something for the outside. email me if you want and I’ll invite you. Their are thousands of females on G+ and it’s not some smoke filled mans club. It’s clean bright and refreshing.

  • Sean McKelley says:

    I think the phrase “your mom” is a reference to “everybody and their mom uses ______” as opposed to a sexist attack on women as a whole.
    Also, about your comment that refers to Google+ being a smoky men’s lounge: I’ve been on it for a few days and haven’t gotten that vibe. Maybe it’s because half (literally) of the people in my circles are women, or maybe because when I offer to give out invites on Facebook, most (around 60%) of the requests come from women.

  • Christy says:

    Hmm, I read the original blog and didn’t really get the same vibe you did. Granted, I still thought it was a little insulting, but mostly just geared to anyone who wasn’t “tech” enough to appreciate Google+. I didn’t feel he was targeting women.

    That said, I have Google+, got it several days ago. My sister is on there, as well as many other of my female friends. In my Plus circles, the balance between men and women are pretty equal.

    I will say that most of the girls who joined didn’t really know what it was until some guy on facebook asked if anyone wanted an invite to it. Many of them said “What is it? Sure, I want an invite!” Does that fulfill a stereotype? Anyway my sister is really not who I would call a techie of any sort, but she knew about it and asked for an invite from the same friend I did.

    Me? I knew I wanted Google+ the moment I read about it from Google when it was announced. I downloaded Chrome the day it was released. I got gmail during Beta as soon as I could get an invite to that. I joined Wave. I have tested almost every Google feature. Not all of them have been great.

    Google+ is though. Excellent in concept, design and execution. I can’t blame Google for making it hard for casual users to get on yet though. They seriously want feedback, and its early days yet. You can win over people like me even with a few bugs or poorly designed features, but the casual user? Not so much.

    Also, contrary to what the other blogger said, I feel that Google+ would be the perfect place for me to finally get my Mom to sign up. I joined facebook back in 2005 when it was shiny and new and for college kids only. It still feels wrong for me to add someone who isn’t the same generation I am. Google+ though is perfect.

    It is very user friendly, has a great “hangout” feature, and has the added bonus of audience selection. The Circles allow you to quickly choose who can see anything you post.

    I don’t see what tech nerds are worried about. They can create a Circle called “Techies” and then be in their own little world.

    (For the record, I do agree that a lot of men have the attitude that women can’t use technology. I carry around a metaphorical sledgehammer to smash this idea wherever I go. In my life I have found that knowledge, patience and a penetrating look can put any man on notice that his attitude’s days are numbered.)

  • I have been using Google+ since Wed. I believe and I see many females in there, as for the whole “Mom” comment, not sure what he was getting at and the only thing I can really think of is that most of our “Moms” aren’t uber excited over new social platforms.
    Do we know where Google admitted that only people they believe to be influential have gotten in? Is this in fact true?
    I would take his blog post with a grain of salt :)

  • j t wells says:

    When is someone going 2 develop a Facebook import app 4 google-plus?

  • I’m on Google Plus and I’m a chick. I’m seeing plenty of women on it. Not sure why you think it’s a mens’ club. I’m seeing a different view. :)

  • If you listen to Robert’s CinchCast with his wife talking about Google Plus, you get an idea of where he’s coming from. Here is the link to the cinch.

    I have collected posts, tweets++ in a Storify about Google Plus (including this post) and I’ve embed it on my blog.

  • H Squared says:

    I didn’t get an invite. Yet I still was able to sign up for Google+, AND I’m female. And pretty normal. And I have a lot of friends who are not geeks, insiders or rock stars who use G+. I think they’re pretty normal, too.

    Am I missing something entirely in your article? Maybe I should just send you the link I went to in order to get signed up: I went to the site, created a profile, and found friends there through my Gmail address book.

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