Monash University’s podcast, What Happens Next?, has published a two-part exploration of influencer culture, parasocial relationships and feminised labour featuring notable content creators and academic experts.
The meteoric rise of influencer culture has taken over social media, television screens, and even the big screen. But what's happening behind the selfie stick, and how does it relate to gender dynamics?
In these thought-provoking episodes hosted by academic and commentator Dr Susan Carland, listeners explore the not-so-shallow world of influencers, learning to challenge gender biases both online and offline.
The podcast series features a lineup of influential guests, including Instagram influencer and content creator Olivia White, and veteran radio broadcaster and comedian Jo Stanley, a Monash alumna who is the co-founder and CEO of Broad Radio, an organisation promoting women's representation in media. Dr Kate Fitch, a senior lecturer in Monash University's School of Media, Film, and Journalism, adds her expertise as a leading scholar in feminised labour and public relations.
Influencer culture is not just a hobby; it's a billion-dollar industry primarily powered by women. Despite this, male influencers are paid approximately 30 per cent more than their female counterparts.
Dr Fitch explains that the gender pay gap is just the tip of the iceberg in this precarious line of work, marked by gender inequity.
Ms Stanley highlights the high level of skill required in content creation across various platforms, including social media and radio, emphasising influencers' ability to understand and convey stories that genuinely resonate with their audiences.
Moreover, she points out that traditional media has been slow to include female voices, possibly due to unconscious bias. The rise of the internet has allowed female creators to carve out digital spaces for themselves, democratising content creation.
Ms White, a former “mummy blogger” turned social media influencer, offers insights into the struggle to balance authenticity with privacy in her content. She discusses the behind-the-scenes work that goes into brand partnerships, the ethics of sharing personal information online as a parent and the threats of cancel culture and algorithm changes that all influencers face.
This What Happens Next? series is not just about influencers – it's about challenging gender biases and expectations that persist both on- and offline. It highlights the urgent need to recognise gender biases and stereotypes and to promote gender equity in all spheres.
- “Although it's useful to understand the shifting dynamics around work afforded by social media platforms, it's a fairly precarious business model, where you're reliant on corporate social media entities that can introduce changes overnight that fundamentally change the user experience, or where a tweak to the algorithms might result in lower engagement. So there's great precarity in this kind of work.” – Dr Kate Fitch
- “In radio, particularly commercial radio, of the voices we hear, only 27 per cent are females. So we are still battling with a message and a reflection of society that's completely skewed. …It's the subliminal that you don't notice, I think. Who do we go for as experts when we talk finance, when we talk sport, when we talk economics of any kind, science, STEM? Are we going to women very often? Statistics show that in radio, only about 35 per cent of the people who are quoted in those areas are women.” – Jo Stanley
- “Of course I want to be in a space where I'm effectively my own boss, where I can create the opportunities for myself and I'm not answering to anybody. Because no one was giving me the opportunities, no one was giving me the chance. So create the door.” – Olivia White
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What Happens Next? explores some of the biggest challenges of the day. Dr Susan Carland steps through the sliding doors with global experts and thought leaders to find out what could happen if we don’t change, and what the world could look like if we do.
It is a two-time winner of gold awards, and the winner of both a bronze award and a listener’s choice award, in the global Signal Awards, alongside other high-profile podcast creators including Michelle Obama, Oprah, Netflix and media powerhouses such as the New York Times, Bloomberg and the ABC.
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Dr Susan Carland, Lecturer of Language, Literature, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University
Dr Kate Fitch, Senior Lecturer, Communication and Media Studies, Monash University
T: +61 (0) 3 9903 4840
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