Blog post

Why Do Women Understand Government 2.0 and Social Media Better Than Men?

By Andrea Di Maio | October 20, 2010 | 4 Comments

social networks in government

In over three years of web 2.0 and government 2.0 coverage I have met or spoken on the phone with several hundred people around the world, and I have come to believe that there is a gender difference in how government folks understand the implications of open government and social media in government.

I mentioned this in yesterday’s session on Open Government at Gartner Symposium (see previous post) and I have tweeted about this. I was not expecting a quite negative reaction by some of the (male) government 2.0 experts, who immediately asked me for whether I had done a survey.

I may consider to do one, but what many do not seem to realize is that the single most important and richest source of data for Gartner analysts is their own client interactions.

When I am home (rarely) I will probably have between four and seven phone inquiries a day, 50% of which being about this topic: from reviewing social media policies, to discussing platforms, from looking at open government plans to reviewing the impact of government 2.0 on IT strategies.

When I am on the road (a lot) I have between four and seven meetings per day per city, with between one to twenty people per meeting.

When I am at Gartner Events (like now in Orlando, or in Cannes and in Sydney), I have between ten and eighteen one-on-one meetings a day, lasting 30 minutes each, where we have rapid fire discussions about the topics I cover. Even here, about 50% of my client interactions are on government 2.0.

My comment about women and government 2.0 is rooted in how many interactions with female CIO and IT leaders have shown a better appreciation of the potential of these technologies, but also a smarter way of striking a balance between internal vs. external collaboration and the blurring of boundaries between the two.

I do not mean to say that men do not get it. On the other hand, while there seems to be an overwhelming majority of men among the government 2.0 evangelist community (some of whom may have been offended by my observation), women on the government 2.0 implementation side (i.e. not those who preach, but those who have to deploy and use these technologies) seem to be faster and nimbler in getting to the bottom of it.

So, even without online surveys, interviews and desk research, I think I am in a position to state, sadly as a man, that women really get this more than we do. It would be interesting to figure out why, rather than fighting the evidence, and this is where I hope I’ll be able to do some research.

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  • This post mirrors my own experience. I have seen a huge level of empowerment for women through Gov 2.0 and social media. In fact we tailored specific panels at Gov20LA 2010 around this concept. As a man, I think you wrote a great piece that highlights a truth that not so many see right now.

  • I tried to answer the actual question of Andrea Di Maio – WHY is it, that women seem more inclined to practically engage in gov20.
    My answer is posted at govloop:

  • Megan says:

    The FICM IdeaScale site is not a survey, but another interesting data point. Most of the members of the FICM Steering Committee are women, and the responses and ideas we are getting back certainly validate this blog..