Blog post

The changing role of women online

#MeToo and #TimesUp have been two global movements that have brought women’s equality and their role in today’s society to attention.

By Annmarie Hanlon - 8 March 2018

Annmarie Hanlon, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at the University of Derby, talks about the changing role of women online and how these movements are raising awareness against sexual harassment.

The origin of #MeToo

Less than five months’ ago, a new hashtag took Twitter by storm: #MeToo.

It all started with revelations about the misconduct by American film producer Harvey Weinstein of actresses and it gained momentum with over two million tweets in more than 85 countries. #MeToo now has its own Wikipedia page and women who previously didn’t speak out about abuse have now joined the conversation.

Originally, #MeToo was started by equality campaigner Tarana Burke back in 2006, but it didn’t get the same traction as it does now. Today, a Google search for #MeToo brings up over 28 million results with cases of abuse in every aspect of life from entertainment to the military and politics to sports. There’s a bigger issue here surrounding equality and respect for women.

The impact of Twitter

So what’s changed? Twitter numbers have grown and amplified the conversation globally. The growth in those sharing #MeToo experiences has supported those too scared to discuss the issue previously. However you look at it, it’s still an unequal world. Women in Kuwait only gained the right to vote in 2005, around 17% of all biographies on Wikipedia are women, and fewer than 20% of all professors in the UK are women.

The new clarion call is #TimesUp but do we need an alternative that focuses on positive female role models? These recent months have changed people’s perceptions on the serious issues about women that before, would have been ignored. #MeToo and #TimesUp are movements that women can use as support mechanisms to help them feel equal and also safe in their place of work.

The female voice

In honour of International Women’s Day, the University of Derby is hosting a range of activities that recognise women all over the world. We will be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon where staff and students will be contributing to the Wikipedia Women in Red project’s list of missing articles to make ‘red links’ into ‘blue links’.

The University has also created content from staff and students that involves them talking about why they are celebrating International Women’s Day and what women they are inspired by.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at or call 01332 593953.

About the author

Annmarie Hanlon
Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing

Annmarie Hanlon is a consultant and lecturer in digital marketing and social media. Starting in 1999, when she worked in ‘internet marketing’, she has worked on digital marketing strategy and planning projects in sectors including legal and financial services, software and IT, communications, advertising, media, health and leisure.