Women Know Less Than Men—That Is, If You’re Asking Wikipedia

Humility, reticence, and self-doubt: unfortunately sought-after qualities in a traditionally feminine woman, but terribly inconvenient when hunting for female experts. This is the problem currently facing Wikipedia, the go-to reference site and bane of professors everywhere. Out of “hundreds of thousands” of contributors, fewer than 15% are women. In fact, there is a larger percentage of female justices on the Supreme Court, which isn’t exactly known as a shining example of gender equality.

The NY Times article discussing the lack of female contributions among the 3.5 million entries explains that such unequal participation is common—according to the OpEd project, a NYC-based research firm that “monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to ‘public thought-leadership forums,’” (they have a company for everything now, don’t they?), an 85%-to-15% man-to-woman ratio is common. According to its founder, women are in this position because of a lack of confidence and an overabundance of self-doubt.

We spend the vast majority of our time listening to women… and they know their own minds. Think about your own experience: the formidability of Mom when she’s crossed. Your girlfriend’s dogged pursuit of the perfect outfit for New Year’s Eve. The exact specifications of your niece’s tree house. Do you doubt the women in your life? Remember that the female half of the population controls around 80% of household spending—women are speaking with their money instead of their voices, which is great news for advertisers, but less encouraging for the greater good.

We’ll leave you with a point from the article that struck home: Encouraging women to contribute to the internet’s favorite knowledge base isn’t some noble pursuit of “diversity for diversity’s sake.” Instead, Wikipedia’s executive director is looking to make the encyclopedia as good as it can be. “Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table,” she said. “If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.” We know you know what you want, and we know you have opinions. The question is: Are you at the table?

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Is the Iphone for Girls

Jenna Goudreau at Forbes.com says yes. In fact, her post “Is the Iphone for Girls” points out that new research  from Nielsen finds that women show a greater preference for the iPhone while men show a stronger interest in Motorola’s Droid. 

Now, I’m an Iphone junkie. Before getting it, my cell phone was a paper weight in my bag, but now, it is always charged. For me, it’s all about the apps and the functionality of the phone. I have no idea whether the Droid is as good but quite frankly, I don’t want to think about it because “if it’s not broke…”  I think a lot of women feel that way.  Once we find something we love that works, we stick with. We tend to be more brand loyal unless there is a reason not to be.

But of course it is about getting her first. Looking at the Nielsen data, while 30.9% of women say that their next Smartphone will be an Iphone, 23.8% are still undecided (compared to 14.9% of men who aren’t sure which one they want).  This tells me that there are still people to persuade and marketing and applications will be the key to her heart.

Jenna also asks whether the next debate will be between Kindle and the IPad. The Kindle has done a great job creating ads that are clearly targeted to women.

But are they looking at how women are actually using these products and marketing to her that way?  I know in our house, my Iphone is shared by me and my daughter who is 18 months old – there are just as many apps for her on there as there are for me and she is a wiz at turning it on and sliding her finger across the screen to get it to do what she wants. As a mom, I couldn’t live without it.  Now take the IPad, I know the IPad would act the same way – we would use it for movies and games and entertainment and I’d use it to catch up on favorite magazines and books. Can the Kindle do that? The brand that shows women how it can easily fit into their lifestyle and justify the price, will be the one who wins their wallet share.

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Boomers get Fiit for the holidays

I’m so sad the new Christmas campaign for Wii Fit is not airing in the US. The UK Telegraph reports that Helen Mirren is one of the new endorsers for the gaming consol.

Dawn Paine, Marketing Director at Nintendo UK, mentions that, “we will be helping the nation play together and have fun whatever their age.” Usually we say everything cannot be for everyone, but this is a great example of smart boomer marketing. Perhaps she’ll buy Wii Fit in the hopes of playing with their grandkids, spouse or friends? And who tends to splurge on gifts around the holidays and has the disposable income to do so?

It’s about time to acknowledge women’s presence in the gaming industry where female gamers total 40% of players.

I’m interested to see how the campaign is received, but I’m happy that Nintendo is paying attention to the power of the consumer when usually boomers are an afterthought. Thanks for putting her front and center, does this mean I can get abs like Dame Mirren?

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drum roll…women spend more time on their cellphones than men

22% more time, to be exact.
The CNN post reports, “The Nielsen report on the survey, conducted from April 2009 to March 2010, did not offer any possible explanations for the findings.”
I have one, women speak on average 7,000 words a day compared to men’s 2,000.
What else could explain these findings?

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(More Polished) Thoughts About BlogHer

Thank you to Adweek.com for publishing my OpEd to Marketers about BlogHer10. The original ranting about this also on this blog.

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Give A Little, Get A LOT

Half Truth: I’m too busy to volunteer

Whole Truth: It’s easier to give money, yet less always feels less rewarding, until now- DonorsChoose.org

Excluding my Saturday mornings at the senior citizen’s home in New Jersey back in the ’90s, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been crap at volunteering.  However, last year I heard about an amazingly personal website, DonorsChoose.org, that’s made my monetary donations feel like I’m really making a difference.

On the website you select your location and review proposals written by teachers that need help with their classrooms, everything from science experiments to gym equipment. Each proposal has a page where they post pictures and a summary of their situations and needs. You can donate any amount towards a project and you’re also able to write a little message about why you chose to donate.

After entering my credit card number is about the time I usually forget I gave $25 to my friend running that race, but not with DonorsChoose. After donating you receive hand written thank you letters in the mail to make you feel extra special. Last night I got invited to play volleyball with the students whom I purchased a new net and balls for. I also got to hear all about Tupac’s journey (who knew there was a rapper’s biography appropriate for a 7th grade girls book club, but reading is reading, right?)

Besides making you feel ridiculously good about giving some money, DonorsChoose is organized and easy. In December I received a letter in the mail from the organization with a summary, for tax purposes, of all the money I donated over the year (thank you for not making me go back thru my bank statements), as well as a $25 gift card to use towards a future donation. Last night I received another $25 gift card that they asked me to pass onto a friend, family member or colleague to help spread the word.

I thought blogging would spread the word to a few more ears. DonorsChoose.org–an amazing way to donate!

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Prescription to Listen

An article by Rich Thomaselli in this week’s Ad Age observes that drug-makers are finally starting to see the benefit of listening to their consumers, thanks in part to the recent increase in patient-focused social networking sites. 

One such site, Patients Like Me, is an online community where people can gather to share information about their respective illnesses, as well as provide support and opinions on treatment options.  Co-founder and president Ben Heywood says of the site, “the challenge with health care is that it’s always been very individual, very personalized…[Patients] have different things going on, different needs, different problems they want to talk about. You need to solve those problems specific to that person…”

We saw this need for personal support and validation during research we have done on conditions like Fibromyalgia, incontinence, menopause, menoraghia—complicated conditions that can present differently in each case, making it difficult to diagnose and to treat.  These are also diseases that can carry a stigma (thanks to their ever changing laundry lists of symptoms), with some physicians dismissing the symptoms as purely psychological which can result in incomplete or incorrect treatment.  When we spoke to patients with these conditions, the universal wish was to be heard.  They wanted to know that their doctors were listening to them, believing them.  That their disease was real and they weren’t alone.  That validation was almost as important as physical relief. 

Patients Like Me gives patients a chance to be heard by the people that can make a difference.  Talk about transparency, they let their posters know that the information they exchange on the site will be sold to pharma companies—with the purpose of enhancing care and creating better solutions.  After all, how is a drug company supposed to know how to sell their products to a patient if they don’t understand what she wants or what she worries about? How will a physician know how to diagnose if they don’t know what to listen for—they need to learn to speak her language, because chances are she doesn’t speak like a textbook.  Bravo for making the effort to listen to real women!

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Finally a Way to Communicate Sarcasm in Emails

So I am thrilled to finally hear this news (first from Mashable and then today in The Wall Street Journal) that there is actually an emoticon called the SarcMark  that I can buy that will tell humorless readers of my emails that I am being sarcastic.  So if I insert this handy dandy thing (available for $1.99) I won’t have to risk ticking someone off (I really did love your new haircut!)  or having someone take me literally (I didn’t mean that I actually wanted to see your vacation pictures again).  It is definitely more sophisticated looking than silly smiley faces or winks cobbled together with punctuation which I’m morally opposed to just on principal that adults shouldn’t need to add them to sentences.

On a larger note, this should help women like me tell the Whole Truth and actually be understood versus misinterpreted.

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Whole Truth: I am Neither Your Friend Nor Your Family

I love a good discount even more than the next gal.  I use Lucky Mag Rewards to get Cash Back, read Bargain Babe religiously and have a coupon app for my iPhone.  I never order anything online without searching for a promotional code.My office likes to tease me because I can’t just say thank you to a compliment I have to tell you how much I saved when I bought it.  (My husband likes to remind me that we can still go broke one dollar at a time when I proudly tell of my bargain prowess.)  

All this in mind why does it annoy me when I get an email from The Gap offering me a Friends & Family from my dear, dear friend Lindsey Mcadams?  Maybe because I don’t know Lindsey Mcadams. I’ve never heard of her.  We didn’t go to high school together or work together. She’s not on my LinkedIn or my Facebook.  I even called my mom to see if she remembered this name.  It’s real nice of her to offer me 30% off but to call me her friend? Her family? Now that is a bit presumptious. 

Offering discounts is lovely, especially juice ones for 30%+ but the Whole Truth is you don’t have to pretend to be related to me to extend me a deal.

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Sample Cafes Target Trendmakers in Tokyo


I’ve always known that Japanese women in their 20s are infinitely cooler than I am.  Even at my coolest I couldn’t compete with their unbelievable braveness when it came to starting and growing trends.  This article in the Wall Street Journal last week has reminded me that these women are enabled in their quest for cool by innovative marketers and outlandish ideas.  In a nutshell there are a group of “cafes” called Sample Labs or Lcafe that offer new brand experiences and sampling to their target audience of cool, young Japanese early adopters. 

 “Once registered, the customers get tokens based on the amount of food or drink they ordered. Those tokens are then brought to a brightly lit “sample bar” where customers redeem the tokens for samples. After being open less than two months, the café has more than 2,000 registered members.”

Women register via mobile phone (is this the future of the screener?) and can come to these cafes (that serve liquor) from 10am until 4:30am!  Men are allowed but are outnumbered 9 to 1.  Interestingly men aren’t allowed in after midnight, “dubbed Cinderella Time” which I think is a genius name.

In Tokyo the cost to execute this is ridiculously low for marketers and I can’t imagine that being a reality if there were American interpretations of this.  But the marketers get awesome exposure, grassroots research and tracking abilities.  I know that NYC always has a pop up store popping up but they tend to be unfocused and visited by throngs of tourists waiting to grab as many samples as they can. 

Could you imagine this here?

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Go There

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