Social Media as a Tool for Engaging Participants in Research: Experiences of Gender Inequality in Journalism

Abstract

This case study relates to my PhD research that I undertook at the University of the West of Scotland between 2009 and 2013. My thesis analysed the expectations and experiences of gender inequality for women in journalism from 1970 onwards. It commenced with the year legislation to address inequality for women in the workplace was first introduced in the United Kingdom. The aim was to capture and compare women journalists' experiences of gender inequality and their perspectives of the impact of the legislation during the time period. A mixed-methods approach to data collection was used that included an online survey, face-to-face interviews and autobiographical reflective writing. This case study shows how social media was used first to identify female journalists of varied ages and backgrounds willing to be involved in the study and second to direct them to the first stage of the data collection. The outcome reveals that social media has the potential to be a successful tool in terms of ensuring wide and inclusive coverage from a representative sample of the target population; however, there are challenges in terms of controlling the sample and therefore of calculating response rates.

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