Twitter's Glass Ceiling: The Effect of Perceived Gender on Online Visibility
Social media is a new public sphere where people can, in principle, communicate with each other regardless of their status. However, social categories like gender may still bias online communication, replicating offline disparities. Examining over 94,000 Twitter users, we investigate the association between perceived gender and measures of online visibility: how often Twitter users are followed, assigned to lists, and retweeted. Our analysis shows that users perceived as female experience a 'glass ceiling,' similar to the barrier women face in attaining higher positions in companies. For users in lower quartiles of visibility, being perceived as female is associated with more visibility; however, this tendency flips among the most visible users where being perceived as male is strongly associated with more visibility. Our results suggest that gender presented in social media profiles likely frame interactions as well as perpetuates old inequalities online.