Hey! Where’s My Google+ Invite? Oh, But You’re A Girl

Everyone is trying to get an invite to Google+ so they can jump on the new social networking platform by Google.

Could it be true the insidious “old boys network” could include Google, limiting early access to web apps, social networks and geek toys?

Invites were sent out first to Google employees, ex Googlers and influential people in tech and social media.  In turn, they were offered the ability to invite people  but on Wednesday, the invite link was shut down  due to heavy server loads at approx 8pm PST.  What if you really wanted an invite but didn’t know someone who worked at Google?

Are Women Getting Shortchanged On Google+ Invites?

I read an article shared by +Lynne d Johnson in my Google+ stream that said there was a gender disparity in Google+.  The author, Quentin Hardy who writes a technology column over at Forbes, wrote there were more men than women using Google+ using the service than women.  He attributed this on the gender makeup of developers at Google saying,

The gender skew isn’t too surprising, considering how Google+ is rolling out. Google launched it to 43 languages – an impressive geographical and linguistic reach – but it did so through Google people, who are mostly young male software engineers. They know people like themselves, and have invited them in. And, stop the presses: Guys who write a lot of code tend to know more guys than women.

Is that even accurate? Are most of the developers at Google guys?  Even with that said, were they only inviting other men to join?

Gina Trapani started a thread on diversity on Google+ and I chimed in there as well.

I will share my experience  joining the Gmail beta in 2004 and Google+ “limited field trial” last week to counter this assumption.

Interview With My Google Invite Connections

At first I was going to respond with a reactionary video detailing my experiences in getting early beta invites to Google products including Gmail, Grand Central/Google Voice, Google Wave and Google+ but I decided to instead interview two males who invited me to two different betas and share their stories.

I asked both Alex and Jonathan to tell me why they invited me and if they thought about gender at all when inviting people.

Alex Braunstein

Invited me to Google+  June 29th, 2011

  • Skill set: Statistician
  • Current employer: Chomp, mobile app search and aggregation across iTunes, Android and open marketplaces
  • How I know him: roommate and friend
  • What we talk about: Social media, Startups, Google

Alex said he invited me because he thought I’d want to try out the new network.  He’s knows I’m into social media, am a huge fan of Google products plus I have a preference for open social networks like Twitter, YouTube and Flickr over Facebook and LinkedIN which require registration to view content.

I asked him if he had invited any other women besides me and he had; nearly half of his invites went to the ladies!  He invited his mom and sister plus several female co-workers.  See, Alex works at a startup so pretty much everyone there is about early adoption.  They need to be on top of new developments and technology that could benefit their product.  Since all of Google has been focusing on social, Alex’s role at Google supported the development of the Google+ platform.

Jonathan Geremia

Invited me to Gmail June 10th, 2004

  • Skill set: Technology geek
  • Current Employer: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Accounting and professionals services firm
  • How I know him: co-worker and friend
  • What we talked about: Browsers, OS wars, breaking technology news

Jonathan said he invited me because he thought I’d find it interesting.  I still remember the day because I got a pop up notice in my ICQ telling me to come over and take a look at something at his desk.  Sure enough, he’d found a way to get some super exclusive Gmail invites and wanted to know if I was on board.  There were all were, huddled around his desk and I told him I was in!

We played with our new Gmail accounts to no end; much like people have been doing this week with Google+ and every time we’d find out a new function, we’d share it over ICQ or run over to point it out.

Just Kidding, We Think You’re Smart, If You’re Not Our Mom

Female geeks both on Google+ and off were upset with Robert Scoble’s recent blog post title, Why yo momma won’t use Google+ (and why that thrills me to no end), because it implies that women are born with deficiency to understand technology.

Let’s not forget all the women during the world wars who took to the factories to weld, worked in military positions and developed computer programming languages.

A good example is this awesome credit to Grace Murry Hopper in Wikipedia who whipped COBOL into shape:

The COBOL specification was created by a committee of researchers from private industry, universities, and government during the second half of 1959. The specifications were to a great extent inspired by the FLOW-MATIC language invented by Grace Hopper – commonly referred to as “the mother of the COBOL language.”

How To Get Invited To Betas (Even If You’re A Girl)

Now I thought if gender affected one’s ability to get in on Google+ beta invites and betas in general.  I looked at my own Google+ circles.  I thought about who I’d invited during that short window on Wednesday and if gender had played a role.  I thought about the previous betas including being a Windows 98 beta tester (don’t blame me for it being crappy!)

And the answer I came up with was a big, clear: No.

Without scrolling, I can see 71 contacts in Google+

16 are women.

55 are men.

That puts me at 23% for women and 77% for men.

I invited at least 4 women before the invites closed down.  Not because they were of the female persuasion but because I knew they would like early access, I wanted to test the network with them or they directly asked.  Women also added me.  Some I knew from other networks, some I don’t know.  This same logic applies to the men here as well.

In the end, numbers don’t matter because regardless of gender, value matters.

The way to get early access to awesome, new technology is based on showing your interest and enthusiasm for something…and knowing the right people at the right time.  If you don’t know someone but you have the excitement about the software, blog about it, search on Twitter and Google for discussions on the service and attend local events in your city where other enthusiasts will be.  By building your network and spending time around people who share you’re passion, your name will come to mind when there’s an opportunity, regardless of your gender.

It’s true the more you give the more you get. I was giving away Google Voice invites on Twitter and through my website and the whole time, others continued to contact me, offering up their Google Voice invites for me to give away as well!

When you are invited, remember acknowledgement and appreciation are important. Say thank you.  Add them back on the network.  Write a blog post.  Create a video.  Encourage others to follow them or introduce them to people.  It will make them feel good and valued for taking the effort and most likely they will invite you to future opportunities.

Now, I also understand that Google+ crosses several paths including geeks, social media “gurus”, business people, bloggers, developers, Google employees, technology journalists and pundits.  That’s a long list of people to connect with but try to begin to think about your connections as being multi-faceted.  Don’t pigeonhole and label people, writing them off as “only knows XYZ” because Gary Vaynerchuk is a perfect example of a wine promoting business owner transformed into a social media whatever-you-call-him-now.

How the two sexes are using Google+ is a whole other blog post but I wanted to capture my thoughts on Google beta invite discrepancies based on gender.


I strongly feel it’s essential you build a network with positive people who influence you to reach beyond your comfort zone.  A network who congratulates you on a job well done but also delivers the truth when you fall short.

This network will be one that supports your goals and will actively seek out opportunities to help you get there.  It’s your job to build this network, keep people in the loop and thank them when they come through for you.  It can be scary to ask for help or access and I know this first hand but I can assure you, it’s completely worth it and people will respect drive and motivation.

Technology beta invites happen through networks.

  • Did you get into Google+?
  • Did you invite people to join you?
  • Think of someone in your network you could have asked for an invite.  Did you ask them?
This entry was posted in Google, Google+, Women + Technology on by .

About Adria Richards

Adria Richards is a developer and entrepreneur focused on digital equality. She has worked in the tech industry since 1998 solving big problems for companies of all sizes. Embracing her inner nerd, Adria moved moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue her passion for technology. Previously she has worked in technical and training roles for enterprise, nonprofits and startups; from Apple to Zendesk. Adria is a popular speaker and gives talks about culture, communication and diversity. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, yoga and bacon; not necessarily at that order. Her Twitter account is followed by President @BarackObama.