Marketing

Navigating the Gender Landscape in Influencer Marketing: Why Women Contribute More, Yet Earn Less

women's history month influencer article photo

The ever-evolving and exponentially growing influencer marketing space is overwhelmingly dominated by women, positioning female creators at the forefront of an industry that is set to grow to approximately $24 billion by the end of 2024, more than double what it was in 2020 ($9.7 billion)

Despite initial predictions that the popularity of influencer marketing would decrease after the COVID-19 pandemic, influencer marketing has skyrocketed in value, and has become a crucial element of comprehensive digital strategy. As a significant portion of marketing strategy budgets are now allocated to influencer marketing, influencers can no longer be considered a passing trend, but a long-term investment. 

Women make up 84% of social media influencers

So, why are women dominating this space so significantly? 84% of content creators are women, as are 77% of influencers monetizing their content.

One must consider not only the statistics of content creators themselves, but audiences that consume this content. According to an article by Fohr written in March of 2023, women are more likely to follow influencers, and are more likely to be influenced to purchase a product or take an action to learn more about messaging promoted by an influencer-- “about 62% of women say they have made a purchase based on recommendations from influencers”. 

So, women not only carry a majority in content creation, but influencer media consumption. With the emergence of influencers, women are able to see and hear from women who they resonate with online, and therefore trust their advice to take a certain action or consume a certain product. 

Why do women gravitate towards this industry?

Successful influencers with loyal followers tend to all have shared strengths when it comes to their content, personality, and overall brand identity. They are relatable, authentic, consistent, and connect with their community. 

According to a study carried out by Meta, women are more likely to share personal stories / subjects online, while men are more likely to discuss public events such as sports and politics. This use of personal information across platforms adds a relatability and authentic component to their online persona, and creates strong parasocial relationships with their followers, who not only care about the creator as a person, but are much more likely to be influenced to consume whatever product they promote, whether it is a product to be purchased, or messaging to learn more about. 

Women dominate deal flow, but they still earn less.

Despite women exerting significant influence in the influencer space, there’s a 30% pay gap. According to a study by Izea, male influencers make an average of 30% more per post than women, even though women accounted for up to 85% of influencer sponsorships in 2021, and have similar audience sizes and engagement rates to male influencers. 

One catalyst in this disparity can be drawn back to the name of the occupation itself. Women are referred to as “influencers”, while men often call themselves “content creators”. Although this difference in title may seem subtle, it has proved to have significant consequences in how female creators are viewed and valued: “females take on the passive role of influencing, while males are actively ‘producing.’”

This rhetoric is not confined to the industry terminology; it inherently effects the level of respect that female influencers receive, and thus, effects their ability to negotiate a higher pay rate in comparison to men. In a field where rates are not fixed, there lies more fluidity and room for negotiation. This may be viewed as a positive aspect of the influencer business, but the lack of structure allows more room for a disparity between genders. The hypothesis is that women are not as willing to walk away from negotiations as men, and often settle for a lower wage, according to an article by Fast Company.  

Looking Ahead

Participants and consumers of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is dominated by women still treats them as less professional, and thus, undervalued and underpaid contributors.  Do these challenges represent the inevitable hurdles of an emerging industry, or will influencer marketing continue to perpetuate misogynistic conventions?

 

Sources:

“The 42 Key Social Media Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2024.” The Goat Agency, Content Creator, 28 Nov. 2023, goatagency.com/blog/influencer-marketing/influencer-marketing-statistics/.

West, Chloe. “Income Inequality in Male vs. Female Influencers.” Influencer Marketing Hub, 8 Feb. 2024, influencermarketinghub.com/male-female-influencer-income-inequality/.

Geyser, Werner. “The State of Influencer Marketing 2024: Benchmark Report.” Influencer Marketing Hub, 1 Feb. 2024, influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-benchmark-report/.

Wang, Yi-Chia, et al. “Gender, Topic, and Audience Response: An Analysis of User-Generated Content on Facebook - Meta Research.” Meta Research, 27 Apr. 2013, research.facebook.com/publications/gender-topic-and-audience-response-an-analysis-of-user-generated-content-on-facebook/.

García, Leticia. “The Digital Wage Gap: Women Influencers May Be the Majority, but They Still Earn Less.” EL PAÍS English, 10 June 2022, english.elpais.com/society/2022-06-10/the-digital-wage-gap-women-influencers-may-be-the-majority-but-they-still-earn-less.html.

Freud, Aliza. “How to Fix the Misogyny Problem in the Influencer Industry.” POV: The Influencer Industry Has a Misogyny Problem. Here’s What We Need to Fix It, 28 Sept. 2023, www.fastcompany.com/90958751/pov-the-influencer-industry-has-a-misogyny….