You’ve got Male: Amazon’s Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene

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Ladies, the Men of Seattle Are Waiting for You

Update: I’ve posted a summary of the media coverage from this post.

The gender imbalance in San Francisco is so bad that a startup recently proposed flying women in from New York City for dates. But, if you’re a straight male thinking of moving to Seattle to work in technology, think again. Seattle’s gender ratio is more imbalanced than San Francisco’s and it’s about to get much worse for men.

Gender Distribution of Major Cities (U.S. Census)

Gender Distribution of Major Cities (U.S. Census)

Amazon gets blamed for a lot of things: overworking employees, not paying taxes, killing bookstores, cannibalizing the publishing industry and here in Seattle, increasing construction, traffic and rents; and, it turns out that the company’s rapid growth here is also having a big impact on the straight dating scene in Seattle.

Over the past two years, I’ve personally found dating in Seattle has become increasingly difficult. It’s less common to meet single women in person and online dating is more difficult. It’s not that I can’t get dates but it’s harder to find women that are a good match for me. Online, it’s been harder to catch women’s attention, harder to get them to schedule a date and they cancel dates more frequently. When we do meet in person, it’s been harder to capture their interest and nearly impossible to find one interested in a relationship. The women here seem more distracted than ever before and at times, I’ve felt like a number to them. Turns out, the statistics back up my qualitative experience.

The presence of Microsoft and Boeing have always made dating challenging in Seattle but lately, I’ve wondered whether my experiences were a side-effect of Amazon’s rapid growth in Seattle. I decided to look into census data and what we know about Amazon’s hiring spree and its gender mix.

Using U.S. Census data for the ages 25 to 44 for Seattle and other cities, I calculated counts of single males and females using reporting by sex and marital status within each age category (no adjustments were made for the prevalence and impact of homosexuality – which likely affects both sexes relatively equally nor Seattle’s bisexual and polyamorous communities).

Based on the 2010 census data, Seattle has 119 single men for every 100 single women, slightly better than San Francisco at 121 – but equal if you add in the impact from nearby Bellevue, which is an awful 144.

amazon-buildoutYou can’t miss Amazon’s growth if you’ve been in Seattle the past few years. The city’s Lake Union neighborhood is a giant construction zone. In 2013, the company reported adding 420,000 square feet of new headquarters space and “broke ground on what will become four city blocks and several million square feet of new construction.” The company reported adding 28,900 employees worldwide in 2013 for a total of 117,300. While it doesn’t break out its Seattle headcount – I estimated using numbers from an August 2013 New York Times report. According to the report, Amazon had about 15,000 employees in Seattle and is building capacity for 30,000, approximately five percent of the city population!

Using this report and the rough assumption that its overall percentage of Seattle employees to worldwide headcount has been constant the past few years, I came up with the following numbers:

amazon-headcount

Amazon: Number of Employees in Seattle and Worldwide

Amazon is on a hiring tear. I estimate the company has hired 15,026 employees in Seattle since the April 2010 census was taken. Halfway through 2014, its website shows 4,055 open positions in Seattle. The company may hire as many as 6,000 new employees in Seattle this year.

But, according to Payscale.com, Amazon’s gender distribution is 75% male – so the impact of this hiring on the gender ratio is significant. Microsoft’s self-reported USA gender ratio is about the same. However, both could have higher ratios in their local Puget Sound technology headquarters, where male engineers tend to be more prevalent.

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Using all of this data, I estimated the current  gender ratio in Seattle and ahead to the end of 2014. Again, these are my own estimates – and the hardest part was figuring Amazon’s hiring rates by age group (Payscale reports Amazon’s median age is 31) then reducing this by the appropriate census marriage rates for Seattle. Unfortunately for guys, Seattle’s gender ratio seems to have passed a tipping point and Amazon’s rapid hiring is making it quickly worse.

Correction: I’ve updated the EOY 2014 estimate to 130 single males per 100 single females, and the resulting gap below the chart.

Estimated Male to Female Ratio in Seattle

Estimated Male to Female Ratio in Seattle

Note: Seattle’s gender imbalance was worse in 2000 than in 2010, likely because the census count coincided with the peak of the Internet technology bubble.

By December, I estimate there will be 86,098 single males in this age range but only 66,273 females – a gap of 19,825; a lot for a relatively small city. I think it’s also safe to assume that the overabundance of men in Bellevue add pressure on the Seattle scene.

Last month, the Guardian reported that only 18 of Amazon’s 120 most senior managers are women (15%). My estimates used PayScales gender ratio, but it’s possible that Amazon’s local hiring is worse. If for example Amazon’s hiring  80% men in the city, then Seattle currently has 126 single males per hundred single women, will have 129 by December and 133 by the end of 2015.

Culturally, men tend to be more aggressive pursuers, which can magnify the impact of a gender imbalance. For example, women who use OKCupid tell me they typically receive between 15 and 50 emails weekly here in Seattle. Many say they regularly get exhausted just trying to keep up with the inflow. But it’s not all positive for women, some I’ve met say things like “sure there’s a lot of guys, but they’re all tech guys – they’re all kind of the same.” Overall though, if you’re a straight single woman in Seattle, these are pretty good times.

If you’re a straight single woman outside of Seattle, this might be a great time to move here. Seriously, please move here. Amazon’s hiring.

  • Holly

    Oh give me a fucking break.

    • SeattleMike5

      Really? That’s all you’ve got?

    • Kevin Chang

      I’m not too sure about the correlation with Amazon, but I will admit the dating scene in Seattle is horrible. I’ve tried being the “nice guy” so many women claim to want – I’ve never been rejected so much in my life (about 99%). Then, I tried being the “cool, unreliable jerk”. That’s helped a little, but I still have a rejection rate of about 95%. I’ve tried both those styles and everything in between on: skinny girls, average girls, even overweight girls, whites, blacks, Asians, hispanics, blondes, brunettes, redheads, liberals, conservatives, religious, non-religious…just about every demographic you can think of. After having the “it’s the victim’s fault” mentality shoved down my throat and thinking “It’s me, I must not be doing something right”, I’m finally beginning to realize, well, it’s NOT me. It’s these ball busting bitches in Seattle, those that give the exact kind of response you just gave. Nice going Holly, what a thoughtful, intelligent, and productive comment. And that’s exactly why I’m moving.

      • Reflects On Life

        That’s not “ball busting bitches”… what you’ve just encountered is called “The Seattle Freeze”. The typical tag line of those who claim The Freeze doesn’t exist is “Be someone who people would like!” People of both genders experience its curse, no matter what demo they try to date in, try being nice/mean/flaky/reliable/whatever, and finally they move. As a single female, I experienced the same thing from men as you did from women – “The Seattle Freeze” does not discriminate based on gender – and I moved, too. The difference is night & day, even here in Man Jose!

        • WSSNW

          I hate to say it but…you’re right. After 10 years here I find myself giving people the freeze. Kids listen up, get out while your still can.

      • http://www.mellzah.com/ DirtyRobot

        Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, “nice guy”.

    • Laurice Tatum

      Holly name the day and time and I’ll gladly that you up on your request.
      It’s a date!!!!! :)

  • shocked

    Quality, not Quantity.

  • welltemperedwriter

    Ironically, I worked for Amazon when I was single…14 years ago. They laid me off.

  • Zoe

    What are all these young men going to do when they realize Amazon sucks to work for and leave or get fired? I feel so sorry for all these people moving to Seattle to work for Amazon. Hope they know what they’re getting into…. (average tenure at Amazon is 1 year).

    • PNW_TX

      no kidding. looooong hours, weekend work, and no women to date…. but you make $$$. until you get burned out or laid-off

  • Shannon Yost

    I disagree. As a single female, in the tech industry no less, I don’t think the ratios of men to women are to blame for the Seattle dating scene. Although there may be more men according to your stats, that doesn’t translate into more or even better dates for us women. In fact it is just as hard to capture and keep attention of someone you are interested in without experiencing the instant fade-away. Internet dating has given everyone the feeling there are more options available and that window shopping is a sport.

    • http://wp.jeffreifman.com/consulting Jeff Reifman

      Well said Shannon – I agree online dating resembles e-commerce a lot, why wouldn’t you wait to buy the best thing? and has made us all feel a bit more disposable.

    • RKHS

      If there are 140 guys for every 100 girls and you cannot keep the attention of the men you are interested in, then you are aiming too high. Every single women believes they deserves a man in the top 5% of men, but with so many options available, its fade-away for women who do not bring anything to the table.

      The men in the bottom 95% receive little interest from women and every women feels they are entitled to the top 5%. They would rather be single than date less than what they “deserve” and feel entitled to by television. Meanwhile, most women have little hope in retaining those men.

    • Emma Coulson

      Great response, you’re right on Shannon!

  • SusannaDW

    A wise friend once told me “The odds are good, but the goods are odd”. I haven’t been on a date with a Seattle man in over two years. I feel totally invisible in this city in a way I never feel elsewhere. Another wise friend said “You either have to import your own or export yourself.” I’m ready to settle down. After ten years in Seattle, I’m exporting myself.

    • SingleMom

      Ditto. When I turned 38, after 8 years of living and dating in Seattle, I gave up on the dating scene and knocked myself up. I’m a happy single mama now, almost 2 years later, and working at Microsoft for the last 7 years. I don’t work with any single men. They’re all married. Not sure what’s “to blame” (in all fairness, maybe me?), but I also feel invisible in Seattle. Went on vacation to Napa a few months ago, and now I’m getting to know a guy I met there, doing the long-distance thing. He brought me a glass of wine and started talking politics with me — it was great. I’ve NEVER had that happen here in Seattle.

  • Whit

    So throw every single guy in a room and i’ll mini date all of them. Bwhahah…actually it’s not a bad idea.

  • PNW_TX

    A few word: Seattle dating is the absolute worst among MOST larger cities in the country (aside from Alaska). Maybe San Jose (Man Jose) is up there … but that’s about it:

    -Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and IT startups hire over-proportionally MEN … so most people moving to the area are male
    – JBLM down South isn’t doing wonders for the dating scene in the Southern part either
    – Many local girls meet their significant other during undergrad years at UW / Seattle University
    – Many female college grad move “South” to Cali
    – lots of crunchy granola women who don’t believe in shaving and would have zero chances in a city with a more evenly distributed men:female ratio

    So abundance of well educated men making six-figures and lack of desirable women leads to the “Alaska 10, Seattle 8, San Francisco 6, Atlanta 4, SoCal 2″ scale…

    Solution: move away! plenty of good cities out there with nice & pretty girls and cost of living are lower as well…

  • ATM

    I do fail to see how Amazon can be importing straight from Austria. Are they hiring just out-of-town single sausage? Wouldn’t the hiring of men include the married type as well? And is just the hiring bringing in that large of a population to just Amazon?

    I think that you have stumbled upon something and you don’t know it. Women are more distracted. It seems that they have a lofty ideal mate, but then settle on something that they can’t even be proud of telling their friends.

    Love the online profiles that say they are looking for someone who is “Financially Secure” and “Goal Oriented.”

    What?!

    Financially secure in my dictionary is, “Living off the interest.”
    Goal oriented could mean any sort of thing, including but not limited to: “Finish the day without having to toke up,” “Stay out of jail tonight,” and “Pass this STD to as many people as possible.”

    As a part of the Blue-Collar work force, I found it difficult to find women who were not looking for their next meal-ticket. I was, and am, making good money, but the “romance” of someone who doesn’t wear a tie (anymore, thank goodness) just isn’t in it for a lot of these women.

    I thank the heavens each day that my wife and I met. She was what I had been looking for, a beautiful, smart, hard-working, take-no-nonsense woman that loves to ride motorcycles.

    Enough of my rant, good article, Jeff.

  • David

    I’d wager that this has also been the case in just about every area that has ever had a booming economy in a society where workers were free to relocate. The situation is actually probably better nowadays, because women can actually relocate and take some of the same jobs. In the past, it was only men who were moving to this city in order to become lumberjacks, gold miners, fishermen, etc. Back then, the only available women were prostitu…err seamstresses.

  • Ronald

    newsflash, hipster tech worker upset there are too many people like him in city

    • crazygemini12

      I love you.

  • nm

    >a startup recently proposed flying women in from New York City

    ….aaaand no one suggests that maybe to fix the problem, big tech should be hiring more women?? no, just fly us in like produce, amirite guys.

    • thatangela

      Bring in the whores! They’re here to do a man’s bidding!

    • Kevin

      You seriously think they with 4000 open positions, that they are discriminating against women? Any woman with even the most rudimentary technical skills would be hired on the spot if they bothered to apply.

      Don’t confuse a lack of supply with a lack of demand.

  • thatangela

    Tip: If you think women don’t find you interesting, maybe you aren’t. Be more interesting.

    • Kevin Chang

      Classic. Blame the victim.

      • val86

        victim?

      • thatangela

        Victim? LOL. Sweetie, you need to learn about what a victim is.

    • RKHS

      The reality is depressing. Men are forced to entertain women. To be interesting to a women, you just let them talk about themselves, compliment them and make them feel like the special snowflake they always wanted to feel like.

      The men moving into Seattle to work at these companies are in the top 1% for work ethic and intelligence. The women merely average. When the average tech employee meets the average women, they are dealing with someone who probably owns a television, watches reality TV and has 50 less IQ points (the average tech worker is two standard deviations above mean and the average women on street is exactly at the mean).

      There is a massive culture gap. There simplify are not as many women at the same level, moving in to the area. To make it worse, many engineers love what they do and believe it is the most interesting thing in the world. They could talk about it all day, but it is absolutely boring and irrelevant to the average women you meet in a bar.

      Many tech men are forced to entertain women and pretend to be interested in people who are often very boring, just so they can have a sex life. Men have many more obligations than women and its not something many women understand or sympathetic to.

      A women can be attractive and have no other positive attributes and men will fawn over her. To be attractive to women, men have to work out, have to be popular, entertaining, fun, well dressed and able to make people feel like the special snowflakes the “love yourself” culture tells them they deserve to feel like.

      In some sense, I feel like dating consists of exchanging the psychological validation and emotional feel goodies that women want, for sexual services. Men and women have become so remote from each other, that they would not speak to each other if it were not for sex.

      • soccerteesandplaydoh

        I’m so glad I live in the real world and not on your desolate, emotionally stunted, misogynistic planet.

        PS. You sound nice.

        • RKHS

          Women approach me, because I work out and I am well dressed. They continue talking to me because I am interesting.

          Some of them are hunting for a guy to marry and want to suck the money out of my penis. When they realized they cannot get money out of me, they get frustrated and cause drama and try force me to resolve the artificial drama they created with some kind of compromise. I dont respond and they break up with me.

          Then they keep sleeping with me because I am great in bed.

          Dating advice
          1> Be hot
          2> Be amazing in bed (most important thing)
          3> Dont take shit

          It is so much more satisfying to be in a relationship, with a women who wants to sleep with you for the sex, rather than a women who is sleeping with you because she wants your money, wants to be entertained.

          Being fun and flirty is a huge amount of work. It takes years of practice for men to become good at it. Many man do not even understand that talking about their work does make women wet.

          • soccerteesandplaydoh

            a) There is a whole world out there of male/female relationships that don’t hinge on sex. Women can be loyal, funny, supportive, generous, entertaining, kind, and everything else you would hope for from a friend, all while keeping their legs together.

            b) If you don’t find a woman genuinely interesting and have to FAKE your interest in order to sleep with her, you’re doing a pretty fucked up thing for you and for her. Let her find someone who appreciates her for herself, since you aren’t capable of it.

            c) Women like sex just as much as men do. Not just the “good feelings” of gifts, compliments, and attention.

            d) Believe me, there are plenty of women in every city on the planet who are a lot smarter than you. God forbid you should have to step out of your comfort zone to find that out. But seeing as contempt for women oozes from your post, I’m doubtful that you’ll make the effort.

          • RKHS

            I dont judge people on their gender. In my experience, modern women have a harem.
            – they have guys that entertain them
            – they have “friends with benefits” they sleep with in between “relationships”
            – they have guys that pamper them and do things for them (slaves basicly), who probably want to sleep with them
            – they have guys they are “serious” about

            Women today, have extremely compartmentalized dating lifes. Men are behind women by thirty years in terms of understanding how dating has changed. Many men still expect a traditional relationship, which comes with the “Whole package”, but that is not what women want and men are disappointed and frustrated.

            There is book, “The Gaggle” that explains the modern dating life of women. Women have so many books and so much advice from media and friends for navigating the dating market, but men are lost.

            You just have to read the books women are reading on dating and how they live and then look at what media tells men to do and you see a massive divide.

            For many men, its better to be entertaining and have a light relationship or have a purely sexual friends with benefits relationship, than the type of relationship that men think women want.

            If you work in software industry and love software and spend all your free time talking to friends about software, you will have a very difficult time finding a women who is as excited about it as you are. Men need to re-evaluate their relationships and begin compartmentalizing like women have.

            Men love talking about their work and about money, but its absolutely boring to 90% of women that are dating prospects. Most women have a different focus in life.

          • soccerteesandplaydoh

            Cognitive dissonance much? “I dont judge people on their gender” /= to the entire rest of your post.

            Neither men nor women are a monolithic whole that reads the books you think they read or want what you think they want.

            The only part of your post that comes close to making sense is the last two paragraphs. It is difficult, yes, to find people you find attractive who are interested in exactly what you are and want to talk about it all the time. That goes for women and men, all of us. That is why so many books and movies are about this process, because it is difficult.

            This is why a good conversation and a relationship are about sharing and taking turns and having a GENUINE interest in what the other person is all about. Not faking it so you can get laid.

  • PNW_TX

    I hear you… move away… I can highly recommend Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas

    • William Lawn

      Yeah, Atlanta. Just was there. Filthy, decaying downtown. Bums everywhere.

      But you MIGHT find someone. If you push away the newspaper blankets.

      • PNW_TX

        Lol… DT Atlanta…. Buckhead my friend… Buckhead…

      • PNW_TX

        I guess there are no bums in DT Seattle. right? And it’s not filthy either…

        • William Lawn

          Downtown Seattle? Not filthy at all. Just spent the day there. The Market, an excellent lunch at Matt’s, a stroll on the waterfront, a ride on the ferris wheel, then the water taxi to West Seattle, then home.

          As far as the bums go, there seemed less. Didn’t get panhandled once. The park down by the market was packed. Just not many bums.

          Frankly, I was a little surprised. I’d heard a lot of whining how they had taken over that park. I think that is it. Just whining.

          Don’t like Seattle politics and suddenly it is dangerous, dirty and filled with bums.

          It isn’t. Beautiful city and I’ve been to many, all over the world.

  • val86

    so which ones do and do not deserve the things they want? you tell me

  • Reflects On Life

    One huge factor that the author doesn’t account for: In the Bay Area and the greater Seattle metros, a huge % of those high-tech single men are actually recent immigrants (moved to the US in the last 15 yrs) who only plan to marry women from back home, even import them with very little prior contact if necessary.
    So I would empirically hazard a guess that if these metros have 120 single men : 100 single women, then when you factor out those single immigrant men, you are left with 80 or 90 single men : 100 single women. So I believe the men still have the home-court advantage due to all the away players, KWIM?

    • WSSNW

      Its a factor but not as much as you might think. Even if every single one of those H1 imports were single it would still only drop the ratio from 120 to 118 to 100.

  • janet

    here in the Bay Area/SF – I have heard my male friends say that ‘women are a distraction’ to their goals to be the next internet mogul. It’s true, but if only these men knew that a strong woman and a fulfilling relationship and seeing women as human beings, as partners in each other’s journey (hey, women want to reach startup stardom too) is what you want. Don’t put off what you can have now.

  • Joseph Palmer

    Whatever happened to, be yourself? I can just imagine most people don’t know what that means, because when a moment is taken to explore just who the fuck they are inside, they come out with not so good answers and hence have to be the “nice” guy or whatever. Start looking inside yourselves, if you have to be single, then so be it.

  • Erin

    I am a single female who has been working at Amazon for 2 years. While I do work mostly with men, I can’t think of one that is unmarried. As for the dating scene, like many Amazonians I don’t have much time to date. My limited free time is spent catching up on much-needed sleep. Perhaps that dynamic is more to blame for the lackluster dating scene here?

  • gregoryabutler

    Bro, maybe women aren’t dating you because you suck at math.

    There are 634,000 people in Seattle, Washington, and 2 million people in King County (the Seattle metro area) as a whole.

    1,975,000 of those people don’t work for Amazon.

    Perhaps the problem is that the 317,000 women in Seattle and the
    million women in the metro Seattle area don’t think that you are sexually attractive or likeable.

    Maybe they’re right.

    Try again, son

    • WSSNW

      Did you do that math? Amazon is just a latest in long line of Seattle companies that have a skewed (not saying intentionally) to male hiring practice that happen to be in the Seattle area. Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, Nintendo, Google (yes, there here now too) that’s off the top of my head.

  • aikimoe

    This is demonstrably untrue. I don’t know where it started, or why it persists, but there are lots and lots of folks who don’t love themselves, who are perfectly capable of loving others. Hell, I know people who hate themselves, but who love other people in perfectly normal, healthy ways.

  • ExAmazonienne

    Oh, swoon! More unbathed, emotionally distant, poorly dressed
    man-children who haven’t been properly socialized around women and can’t passionately discuss anything other than Ruby on Rails treating my body like another computer program that needs to be
    debugged.
    -Long-time female Amazonian preparing to flee Seattle after 9
    years and exhume her sex drive

  • WSSNW

    Maybe you just attract jackasses. I mean that is your argument right? The numbers don’t matter, that it’s all his fault. Then its your fault that your seem to be a jackass magnet.

  • WSSNW

    This is not a correlation causality argument. But you get points for repeating something you read on the back of Starbucks cup.

  • WSSNW

    Statically insignificant

  • belinda

    jeff, call muse&co. we’re a personal matchmakers, and also about to launch a concept that groups like minded, quality singles for dinner (3 men & 3 women, of the same “ilk”). we want to help tamp out the title “seattle freeze!” here we go!

  • bay_born

    But then there’s the question: are these “extra” men dateable? I live in the SF Bay Area and most of my female friends complain of the dating culture there: Technology seems to have hampered everyday social skills. Men don’t approach women, can’t make eye contact, and can’t commit. The attitude is one of “always looking for something better to come along”.

  • Kim Garland

    Oh this is good news :) Thanks for this very encouraging article! I have been to the online dating sites and have lasted no more than 24 hours because I get inundated with responses. I have felt like a freshly filleted fish thrown into a shark infested body of water. I get overwhelmed and quickly cancel my account. As a single woman I have been disillusioned with the online dating sites and have decided to take it to the streets and meet the old fashioned way – a personal face to face interaction. With that in mind, I started a “google” search on where to find single men in Seattle and hence found this article. So I’d like to pose some questions to the author and his readers, do these men leave the office? Do they go to gyms? Coffee shops? Where do they go for fun? I don’t mind approaching, I’m not a wall flower and can get beyond the stereotypical social obstacles many techy guys face.

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