Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related content is quite popular on YouTube but, as researchers from the Australian National University discovered, there is a "conspicuous absence" of female communicators. They set out to find out why. The assumption would be that this simply reflects the under-representation of women in STEM across the board.
An analysis of 450 videos from 90 different YouTube channels found that female-hosted channels tended to receive more comments per view than male-hosted channels. In addition to this, there were significantly higher proportions of comments on the female hosts’ appearance as well as significantly more hostile, critical, negative and sexist or sexual commentary. The lack of women in STEM on YouTube, therefore, could be explained in part by the chilling effect of uncivil commenters.
“Despite progress towards greater equality in STEM, female science communicators on YouTube continue to face bias and social discrimination, impacting their popularity and reception among viewers,” concluded the researchers.