Gender Pay Gap at Google and the Wages of YouTube Twerking

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Got Hired at UAlbany

Been a long time since my last post. Been hard at work and landed myself a new position at the University of Albany. I will be returning to a music department where I will teach Black American Music and a new course on Music and Interactive Media. My primary focus however will be my new research on race, gender, and technology in online musical spaces and information from YouTube to Wikipedia.

This past week, I began working on a new article about the sexploitation of tween girls in YouTube twerking videos that were uploaded from 2009 to 2014 (just a year after the Miley twerk-a-thon at the VMAs).

I was about to head out to take care of some chores when I read info about a pattern of gender discrimination against women at Google on the NASDAQ website It was reported from Zach’s investing firm yesterday.  It seems the gender pay gap and systematic discrimination in the area of compensation is something that plagues the culture of YouTube’s parent company Google. Think patriarchal oppression. But they’d never write that into the copy.

YouTube videos and gender demographics

When I first began researching twerking videos on YouTube, I remember there was a FAQ section on their help site that asked why females 13-17 were dominating traffic to popular videos, as if that was a personal problem not a form of public praise, and the answer that was provided stunned me. “We don’t know.”

They may have genuinely not known but that seems queer given when we know about the analytics of the social web. They know just about everything quantitatively and with predictive analytics and metrics they know quite about each user qualitatively. What users buy, where they go after visiting the site, their demographics which is bigger than the public demographics general users see–age, gender, and sometimes nation.

YouTube meets Billboard June 2013

Back in the old days you could see details about individual users and you could see the breakdown by age, gender and nation for every video. That public info was privatized around the same time that YouTube, Billboard, and Nielson began to treat YouTube views as viewable impressions for monetization and currency purposes.

I was just reading a wonderful quote about W.E.B. DuBois who in 1899 (r1999) “asserted that Black are not a social problem and that their condition and behaviors, are instead symptomatic of a larger system of oppression” (Hunter, Guerrero, and Cohen in Black Sexualities 2010, p. 377). What’s happening with women inside Google is another social problem that has structural explanations in the ways women are discriminated against. Read more…

Gender Inequality at Google

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has made a sweeping statement that it had “found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce” and DOL Regional Director Janette Wipper said the agency had received “compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters.

In a detailed response to the allegation, Google’s VP of people operations, Eileen Naughton said that the claims had been made “without any supporting data or methodology.” She also explained the salary analysis system Google currently employs:

“Each year, we suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation (consisting of base salary, bonus and equity) based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings…The analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees’ gender data. An employee’s manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.” The model then measures individual salary calculations against those received by their peers, which is done to eliminate “statistically significant differences between men’s and women’s compensation”. Naughton also said that Google’s methodology is available to other businesses if they want to test their own compensation practices for equal pay.

This has been going on since Sep 2016, after which a case was filed in January, asking for Google’s compensation data. Things came to a head after Google failed to comply with a routine audit.

Females as Content Creators on YouTube & Hip-hop Videos

“In a time of destruction, create something.”
Maxine Hong Kingston

This summer statistics got me. YouTube decided to stop allowing you to see the statistics on videos for age and sex which totally effed up my research agenda this summer.

This happened in the middle of my summer session courses. The final week was planned around gathering data for music videos viewed by Female 13-17 as a top demographic for VEVO videos by Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. These are not subjects of hip-hop I really would have ever wanted to study but because my earlier work in on girls and hip-hop, I went there.

It was intriguing to me that girls 13-17 could be counted on, literally, to view videos with lyrics like “Love Me” by Lil Wayne with Drake and Future. This is a cut-n-paste from RapGenius.com so you can also see what fans are saying about the lyrics line-by-line:

[Hook: Future and Drake]
I’m on that good kush and alcohol
I got some down bitches I can call
I don’t know what I would do without y’all
I’mma ball til the day I fall

Yeah, long as my bitches love me (yeah, yeah)
I can give a fuck ’bout no hater
Long as my bitches love me
I can give a fuck ’bout no niggas
Long as these bitches love me

[Verse 1: Lil Wayne]
Uh, pussy ass nigga stop hating
Lil Tunechi got that fire
And these ho’s love me like Satan, maaaan!

Fuck with me and get bodied
And all she eat is dick
She’s on a strict diet,
that’s my baby
With no makeup she a ten
And she the best with that head
Even better then Karrine

She don’t want money
She want the time that we could spend

She said “Cause I really need somebody
So tell me you’re that somebody”

Girl, I fuck who I want and fuck who I don’t
Got that A1 credit, that’s that filet mignon
She said “I never want to make you mad
I just want to make you proud”
I said “Baby just make me cum
Then don’t make a sound”

Boys 13-17 are not watching these kind of videos. 18 and up yes but not the youngest male demographic.

Students in both my sections were invited into my research exploration in girls and hip-hop videos on YouTube. Yesterday we watched what looked like a 10 year old white kid lip-syncing to “(Long as my bitches) Love Me” from his bedroom. 13 is the youngest you can be to have a YouTube account but it was clear from this video that smart digital natives have work arounds. The students and I have been talking about the ethics of young people on YouTube as a vulnerable demographic esp. under 13 but also 13-17 given the nature of the lyrical and visual content of rap videos (not to mention other nudity, vulgarity and obscenity found on YouTube even the Yasin Bey Guardian video is not appropriate for young people without parental guidance). More on that in another post.

It’s been a fascinating inquiry with 30+ undergraduate students ranging from 19 – 30. I challenged them to do participant observation after 5 weeks of studying and testing. Become a creator on  YouTube. Create a 2-4 minute video broadcasting yourself. Do what you want. Can be related to the class or not. They were also asked to watch 10 TED Talks, TEDx talks or TED-ED talks of their choosing.  The final project was to create a YouTube playlist that began with their created content + at least 3 TED talks which they had to go public with and share with at least 3 people.

All the students have been amazing themselves becoming creators and we’ve been able to talk about the multi-local sites of YouTube in ways we couldn’t before this week.

One student named Caroline got affected by the video of Yasin Bey electing to subject himself to the force feeding that Guantanamo Bay detainees on hunger strikes are being subjected to twice daily. I watched it Monday and shared about it in class.

Today, she came with a really remarkable video of her own with the help of her friends back in Lexington, Kentucky. I love the power of participatory social media and her video exemplified this. It was brave. Provocative. Collaborative. Engaging. Real!

I wanted to share it and I could say so much more but I gotta run to finish my essay for a book on Obama, Change and Hip-hop that started all this mess and rich study for me. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Caroline wants to meet and interview Mos Def aka Yasin Bey as a budding actress and a committed social activist in the making. This is the first time she’s EVER done anything like this or gotten involved. If you can pass this on, please do SHARE THIS!

We ended by talking about how young girls are not commonly content creators around hip-hop culture and on YouTube compared to young males. Caroline’s video though she is not in it herself is a kind of power a woman can wield from behind the scenes if she so chooses and she did!

Share this video below along with the Guardian video featuring Yasin Bey. The link is featured in Caroline’s playlist here and don’t forget to leave her a comment so she can learn the impact of her work in my class! Thank you!

Curiosity works! The access is through the unspoken. Voice it!

Kyra