Monday, March 21, 2011

There's a Big Difference Between Women "Ruling" and "Shopping"

(Update: I had originally titled this post "Note to Women: Shopping is Not Power" but once I saw it published I did a double-take and thought it made it seem like I was faulting women for the stuff I'm talking about in this post. So I changed it, because that was not my intention at all.)

When I first saw the TechCrunch article Why Women Rule the Internet, I sighed and gritted my teeth because I know very well that, despite periodic attempts by the media and/or tech bloggers to prove otherwise, women do not, in fact, rule much in the world--the Internet included. I only had to read as far as the second paragraph to find this statement
Especially when it comes to social and shopping, women rule the Internet.
Ok, seriously, this just makes me sad. I'm obsessed with a few things in life: social media, going to the movies and, weirdly, because I'm not a numbers person at all, money issues. Back when all my time wasn't taken up working full time and blogging, I used to obsessively read books about the spending habits of Americans and the horrible debt we put ourselves in. The most compelling and depressing were books about women and money--books like Ann Crittenden's "The Price of Motherhood" and Leslie Bennetts' "The Feminine Mistake." And as an unofficial expert in spending and debt issues--not to mention a former stay-home mom who went through a divorce--I'm here to tell you that it makes me sad and kind of sick to read how much money women are spending online and how eager marketers are to encourage them to spend more.

Too many women--moms in particular, and moms are marketer's favorite women to target to spend more--already lag behind men when it comes to earning money in the first place. They don't negotiate effectively when it comes to salary. They earn less than men do. In fields like PR and social media marketing, to name just two. They are few and far between in leading tech start-ups and top news media jobs, not to mention nonprofits.

And that's just earnings in a bigger picture that is largely out of their control. Spending, an area they can ostensibly control, is equally depressing.  They are increasingly finding themselves in debt. And more of it. And, in a time when this country is still reeling from the effects of the subprime mortgage nightmare, women are harder hit in that regard as well because they were 32 percent more likely than men to have received subprime loans and 41 percent more likely than men to have received higher-cost subprime loans, regardless of income, according to my personal goddess Elizabeth Warren.

So forgive me if I don't feel particularly gleeful or optimistic about the concept of Internet companies hiring more women so they can more effectively target women to spend money online. Because odds are that these women will be hired at lower levels and/or paid less than their male counterparts anyway, and, frankly, because women already are doing a good enough job of victimizing themselves when it comes to spending--they don't need help sabotaging themselves.

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