Maybe G+ Isn't Quite As Much of a Boys Club

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After reports came out that women formed a small percentage of Google+ users, statistician Paul Allen dug into his own random-sample data. His stats, which have been accurate so far, indicate that women actually make up a much larger portion of the userbase. About one-third of G+users have two X chromosomes.

Perhaps that number won't quell concerns that the new service is skewed towards guys, but I'm not sure it matters as much as some people suggest. Pew research has found that no major social network is actually gender balanced. Not one! And every service except for LinkedIn actually skews female. Does it make Twitter a failure that perhaps 64 percent of its users are female?

But even if we did think that the ratio of males-to-females on a social network is a significant indicator of the service's success or failure, give G+ some time. The site only has a few more than 10 million users. Given the number of people who use Facebook (not to mention other networks including Google's other services), we're looking at a tiny proportion of the overall number of users that could end up on G+.

What we can say is that the seed group of users reflects the lack of women in Silicon Valley, which is a very real and serious problem. Google had a *goal* a few years back of having women form just 25 percent of its technical staff. So, the seed group of users, rippling out from Google's male-dominated technical workforce, was overwhelmingly male. But as that initial bias gets diluted over the months, will G+ end up dominated by dudes? I don't think we can say for sure. Allen says that the site is trending increasingly female, but I don't think anyone knows if or when that will stop or reverse.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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