‘What Happens Next?’: What Can Influencers Teach Us About Women and Work?

Oct 13, 2023
‘What Happens Next?’: What Can Influencers Teach Us About Women and Work?
They’re in your social media feeds, on your television screen, and these days even appearing in movies. The rise of influencer culture has been meteoric, but what’s going on behind the selfie-stick? And what does it have to do with gender dynamics?

Monash University’s What Happens Next? podcast returns this week with part two of its exploration of influencer culture and parasocial relationships.

Hosted by Dr Susan Carland, today’s episode features insightful discussions with experts in the field, including Dr Kate Fitch from Monash’s School of Media, Film and Journalism; Jo Stanley, the co-founder and CEO of Broad Radio; and content creator Olivia White, all of whom bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the table.
Influencer culture is not just a hobby or part-time gig – it’s a billion-dollar industry primarily powered by women, many of whom start as influencers as a side hustle to supplement their main income. Nevertheless, male influencers are paid about 30% more than female influencers. This pay gap can vary by platform and the type of content being created.

Fitch, whose expertise is in public relations and feminised labour in communications, explains that the pay gap is only the tip of the iceberg of gender inequity in this precarious line of work.

Stanley, a Monash alumna and veteran broadcaster, highlights that content creation – whether it’s on social media, radio or other platforms – requires a high level of skill. Influencers and content creators are adept at understanding and conveying stories that resonate with their audiences, making it appear effortless to connect with followers.

She also points out that traditional media has been slow to include female voices, perhaps as a result of unconscious bias. The rise of the internet presented an opportunity for female creators to carve out digital spaces for themselves, democratising content creation.

White, a former mummy blogger-turned-social media influencer, talks about the struggle to balance authenticity with privacy in her content. She mentions she’s censored herself more over time, fearing negative reactions and the consequences of sharing personal information.

She discusses the ethics of sharing information about her children online, as well as the threat of cancel culture and algorithm changes that all influencers face.

“I think it's wonderful that women have such freedom to find expression and creatively take a stakehold of something that really can be quite lucrative for some, but mostly really fulfilling.” – Jo Stanley

This episode isn’t just about influencers; it’s about challenging gender biases and expectations that persist both online and off. It highlights the need to recognise and confront gender biases and stereotypes, and to promote gender equity in all spheres of life.

Source: https://lens.monash.edu/@what-happens-next/2023/10/13/1386214/influencers-part-2