Wikipedia is believed, by many, to be a democratic model of content creation because of it’s design which allows anyone to create/edit content. While listening to CBC Radio’s Spark, I (Pooja) learned that Wikipedia suffers from a severe gender gap. In fact, a study in 2011 conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation, found that only 13% of Wikipedia contributors were women, making men the overwhelming contributors to Wikipedia.
Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, uses comments posted by women on articles related to the wiki gender gap to explain reasons women do not contribute more to Wikipedia:
1) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because the editing interface isn’t sufficiently user-friendly.
2) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they are too busy.
3) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they aren’t sufficiently self-confident, and editing Wikipedia requires a lot of self-confidence.
4) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes fighty culture.
5) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because the information they bring to Wikipedia is too likely to be reverted or deleted.
6) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because they find its overall atmosphere misogynist.
7) Some women find Wikipedia culture to be sexual in ways they find off-putting.
8) Some women whose primary language has grammatical gender find being addressed by Wikipedia as male off-putting.
9) Some women don’t edit Wikipedia because social relationships and a welcoming tone are important to them, and Wikipedia offers fewer opportunities for that than other sites.
Like many, when I want to learn the basics about anything, Wikipedia is often the first place I go. However, before listening to the Spark radio show on Sunday, it never crossed my mind to edit or contribute to a Wikipedia page. Some of the reasons Gardner presented resonate with me, while others not at all. So what is it that’s keeping me (and you) from Wiki’ing?
Listen to CBC Radio Spark on the Wikipedia Gender Gap:
Read Sue Gardner’s blog here:
3 thoughts on “The Wikipedia Gender Gap”
For me, it isn’t an interest of mine to contribute to Wikipedia. That being said, I think #3 is a reason worth exploring – reminds me of a TEDx call that came out a couple years back, where they found women were significantly less likely to come forward as ‘experts’ on any subject compared to men. Generalization, but in my experience I think men tend to be over confident, while women tend to lack confidence in being ‘experts’ or taking decisive action.
Some of the other reasons strike me as odd (#7 for example).
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