Social 4 December 2018 | 12:49

The gender pay gap extends to YouTube, even within its beauty community

04 December 2018 12:49

There are probably a lot of people who would argue that 2018 has been a pretty bleak year, what with the never-ending Brexit circus and, you know, Trump. But, likely blissfully unaware of the world’s political crises, a 7-year-old YouTuber named Ryan has had a great year: he’s spent it playing with free toys on the internet and has earned $22 million while doing so. It looks like his family are going to have a very merry Christmas, although Santa will have to get creative with his gifting this year – PRs have essentially stolen his job.

With 17 million followers, Ryan takes the number one spot on Forbes’s list of this year’s top ten highest paid YouTubers, ahead of both Jake and Logan Paul, beauty guru Jeffree Star and PewDiePie. The list probably has most baffled by the fact it’s topped by a child, but the most shocking thing about it to me is the stark absence of women amongst the platform’s top earners.

Up until now, I had naively assumed that YouTube was one of the few industries where women played on a level field with men. The site’s beauty community, for instance, is a global phenomenon that has irrevocably changed the way that the cosmetic industry both markets and manufactures products. New eyeliners, lipsticks, mascaras and eyebrow pencils are being launched on a weekly basis to satisfy fans of the community’s most prolific vloggers, whose reviews and makeup tutorials are viewed by over 50 million people each month. Zoella, the UK’s most famous beauty and lifestyle YouTuber, has published two books, won multiple Teen’s Choice Awards, featured in 2014’s Band Aid 30 single, and even released an advent calendar last year. How is she making less money than boys filming prank videos and toy unboxings?

Some may argue that female centric content could simply be less popular on the site, but this point is made redundant by Jeffree Star’s presence on the list, who earnt $18 million this year. Yes, he does have his own makeup line, which probably bolsters his earnings significantly, but so have many other YouTube beauty gurus, including Zoella. This disparity leads me to believe that, somewhere down the line, women are getting paid less for brand deals and sponsorships than men, even when the products being promoted are marketed at females. It’s yet another bleak revelation for 2018. Let’s hope something changes next year.