Regardless of which women we choose to model ourselves after, feedback from our ongoing survey on “Women Role Models in the Digital Age” indicates that digital media is key for learning about, keeping informed about and staying in touch with the women who inspire us and who we consider “role models”.
As you might recall from our previous post on the subject, the vast majority of respondents to our survey inform us that the women they most look up to are real, living women — from their families (75%), circle of friends (68.8%), school and civic communities (31.3% and 18.8% respectively), and professional environments (31.3%). At the same time, 59.4% of respondents say that their role models also include “Celebrity or Public Figures.”
From further analysis, it is clear that — whether personal, celebrity, real or fictional — digital media play a pivotal role in allowing us to learn about, contact, and keep informed about our female role models.
Based upon feedback we received from the 70 people from around the world who took our survey (69 of whom are women), the following was revealed:
Email is the most popular way for us to keep in contact with our real, living and personal role models. This channel is followed closely by direct, personal contact (i.e. “face-to-face meetings“), and phone calls.
Where celebrities and public figures are concerned, we get most of our news, not surprisingly, from newspapers and magazines, although almost half of our survey-takers say they also get news about the “famous” women who inspire and/or mentor them via digital media like online-news websites, email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These same digital channels are used in much greater intensity (i.e., 24% to 36.4% depending on the medium) to keep in touch with real, female role models — mothers, sisters, friends, professional mentors, etc.
Extrapolating these findings to the digital public at large, we might conclude then that:
- digital media have become an essential channel for having and maintaining contact with female role models from our various personal communities;
- digital media provide important channels for keeping informed about female role models who are celebrities and public figures, and
- digital media are a key way to become aware of and inspired by fictional female role models too.
As such, exploited to the fullest, digital media could play a potentially valuable role in the following:
- building and promoting women role models to other women, including girls and young women, and to the public-at-large;
- reinforcing natural and physical women’s networks around the world in order to contribute to solving issues of interest to women and the rest of society; and
- giving women a better standing in society and improving the status of women overall.
In this sense, the connection of Women with Digital Media can be seen as something clearly beneficial and even potentially very powerful, if harnessed to its fullest extent.
When asked directly, survey respondents echoed this sentiment: 80.9% think digital media presents an opportunity for building and promoting female role models of all kinds to society-at-large. An even greater percentage, 92.6%, believe that more women role models is something that we all, and young girls in particular, really need.
Update 7 June 2011:
What can I say? Great minds think alike! Look at the International Women’s Day post by Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, Responsible for the Digital Agenda — a great role model, and the women behind this very initiative! It’s entitled — and please believe me when I say I had not seen the blog post though I heard Ms. Kroes’ speech on that day –“Every Woman Digital.” Fabulous. 🙂