New research suggests female health policy or health services researchers have significantly less influence on social media than their male peers.
In the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers identified 919 Twitter users from a sample pool of speakers and co-authors of research presented at the Academy Health’s 2018 Annual Research Meeting.
The authors found that while women posted a similar number of tweets annually as their male colleagues and followed a similar number of people, their accounts accumulated half as many followers. Furthermore, tweets posted by women generated 45 per cent fewer average likes and 48 per cent fewer retweets per year compared to men.
"By giving women an accessible and seemingly equitable platform on which to present themselves, some hoped that social media would help level the playing field in academic medicine," said senior author, Rachel M. Werner. "However, our study clearly shows that unfortunately women's voices are less influential, even on Twitter, which suggests social media may in fact have the opposite effect."
The authors noted however that the differences in influence on Twitter were less pronounced among junior researchers, which they said suggests greater gender parity among younger cohorts.