Tweeting publicly about sexism could improve a woman’s wellbeing as it has the potential to let them express themselves in ways they feel can make a difference, a new study suggests.
The study examined whether using Twitter to respond to sexism could be done in a public way without any negative effects to their wellbeing.
“We know women can be badly affected by experiences of sexism and that responding publicly can be stressful and risky,” said Dr Mindi Foster from the Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.
A total of 93 female undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions regarding tweeting over a three day period.
All participants received information over the three days regarding topical issues around sexism in politics, the media and in universities for them to tweet about.
One group was required to tweet publicly, another privately and the third group did not tweet at all. They received no instructions regarding the number or the content of tweets they should undertake.
All participants completed mood questionnaires and wellbeing measures after they tweeted. Tweets were also analysed for linguistic and emotional content.
Emotions identified were: anger, discontent, sarcastic, shocked, surprise and sadness. The most common combination was surprise and discontent.
Analysis showed that the group of women who tweeted publicly displayed feelings of increased wellbeing by the third day. Neither of the other two groups showed any changes in wellbeing.
“We know that popular online campaigns such as EverydaySexism have empowered women to speak out and share their experiences. However, this study demonstrates how tweeting publicly has the potential to improve women’s wellbeing,” Foster said.
“More research is required to understand whether this form of collective action has any further health benefits,” Foster added.
The study was published in the British Journal of Social Psychology.