De La Cretaz: Sports teams’ social media accounts are increasingly dominated by women

From Britni de la Cretaz at The Verge on September 19, 2018:

The way people enjoy sports has changed. On Twitter, fans are watching games together, interacting directly with their favorite athletes, and engaging with their teams beyond a logo and a collection of players. Each team’s account has its own voice and personality that they exhibit across platforms.

For men’s professional sports teams, it can be easy to assume that the person behind the keyboard shares certain characteristics with the players they’re tasked with representing — namely, their gender. But it’s becoming increasingly more likely that the person behind your favorite team’s social media account is a woman. Often considered a “pink-collar industry,” social media’s female-dominated workforce has naturally extended to the traditionally male-dominated sports industry, too. Women are not only excelling in these roles, but as the online voices of sports teams, they’re finding themselves insulated from the kind of harassment and abuse that plagues many of the more visible women in the sports industry (and outside of it). For women who want to create sports content without being subjected to misogynist vitriol, a role in sports social media — at least for now — can be an ideal solution.

The feminized nature of social media work has to do with its “characteristic invisibility, lower pay, and marginal status” within the tech industry, say Brooke Erin Duffy, an assistant professor of communications at Cornell, and Becca Schwartz, a researcher at the University of Oxford. The inequity they describe in a study published last year in New Media & Society can easily be compounded as it spreads to industries like professional sports, which already often devalues femininity. (A recent study from the software and data company Payscale also shows the sports world suffers from the same gender wage gap issues as most other industries.)

But as social media becomes a more and more powerful tool, so do the people behind it. And in sports, that’s created a subversive dynamic: the women who have been historically excluded from the major leagues, both behind the scenes and on the field, are now in charge of their voices and public-facing personas.

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Originally published: September 19, 2018. Last Updated: September 19, 2018.