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Wikipedia faces a serious gender gap: the majority of its volunteer editors are male, and women have a minority voice. Many of the female editors say they face discrimination from male editors because of their gender.
On March 4 and 5, 2015, West Virginia University's Reed College of Media and the WVU Libraries co-sponsored a panel discussion and faculty workshop to discuss the lack of Wikipedia’s women editors and what can be done to bridge the gender gap. The discussion is archived here. Also look for #WikiGenderGap on Twitter for tweets associated with the discussion.
I thought this was a terrific example of addressing a lack of diversity in some virtual volunteering programs. But it's interesting that it wasn't a discussion hosted by Wikipedia itself. Most of the virtual volunteering programs I've studied in the USA have actually had more women than men.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
jcravens42Many of the female editors say they face discrimination from male editors because of their gender.
Very interesting. I'd be curious to know what kind of issues these females face from the male Wikipedia editors.It's fact that a major gender gap exists on Wikipedia since the vast majority of editors (about 80%-90%) are men. I'm willing to accept that women could be facing a certain amount of discrimination from male editors.
But I have to question if discrimination from male editors is the key obstacle that keeps most females from contributing to Wikipedia. Let's not be too quick to conclude that many adult female editors have a minority voice due to cyberbullying by males.
Discrimination could exist but I have no doubt that we are missing more critical pieces to this gender gap puzzle. For example, compared to men, maybe women are not as motivated to post new entries on Wikipedia due to having other interests. Maybe many women are too busy to update topics. Maybe women prefer spending their time reading than editing entries, and so on. There are probably many key factors at play here that affect women and men in different ways.
No matter what the reasons are for this gender gap, I would not be surprised if the gender discrimination card keeps being played by certain groups to blame the male race for Wikipedia's lack of female editors.
That being said, I hope Wikipedia is monitoring the situation closely and taking steps to encourage more females to contribute.
TechSoup Community ModeratorDigital Marketing ConsultantYTConsulting.com@yanntol
Hope you will listen to the panel discussion and read the Twitter thread - it's detailed regarding what kind of discrimination women editors at Wikipedia face.
"For example, compared to men, maybe women are not as motivated to post new entries on Wikipedia due to having other interests. Maybe many women are too busy to update topics. "
What a strange statement! Could you please cite your source that women are busier than men, please?
And for what it's worth - there are more women than men that volunteer - including volunteering online. Happy to link to the studies that show this.
Wikipedia is an interesting phenomenon. I know of organizations whose page applications have been rejected by Wikipedia editors due to lack of "legitimate" outside sources (mentions or testimonials) - meaning not enough information appears in the mainstream press. I'd say this approach preserves the status quo and established power structure well.
But curious - is it gender "discrimination" or "misrepresentation"? Meaning, is the disenfranchisement women face at Wikipedia due to targeted discriminatory acts or is it just an unfortunate (not trivializing it) byproduct of gender-imbalanced influence (i.e. more male editors means more issues important to men, more male mindsets, more male representation means greater potential for female alienation)? And if so, should Wikipedia adopt an "affirmative action" doctrine of sorts, to ensure an even balance of gender?
From ‘Coding Like a Girl’ by sailor mercury on Medium:
(this was originally given as a talk at AlterConf in Oakland. this talk only addresses gender diversity and was given in the context of other talks addressing racism, disability, classism, and many other topics.)Heartbreakingly, at some age, we become convinced that doing anything like a girl means that you are doing it ineffectively, wimpily, and in a way that can’t be taken seriously at all. What then, does this mean for women and non-binary people who work in technology and present as feminine? What does it mean for those of us who code like girls?I want to share with you some of my experiences during my 20 years of presenting as feminine and being a programmer along with similar experiences shared by some women I’ve talked to. I’ll also talk about some actionable things that we can do to make tech and games a place where people can feel comfortable presenting as any gender.
jcravens42"For example, compared to men, maybe women are not as motivated to post new entries on Wikipedia due to having other interests. Maybe many women are too busy to update topics. "What a strange statement! Could you please cite your source that women are busier than men, please?
Jayne, I forgot to reply to your post until now.
Many gender differences have been documented regarding the various online activities that men and women engage in. What I provided are only a few possible examples (not evidence) of differences that could exist between men and women to explain how they use (or don't use) Wikipedia.
Although my previous comments seem strange to you, I believe that others would consider these possible gender differences to be worthy of further scientific exploration. I know I do.
In fact, I know several studies that looked at the role of gender differences in Wikipedia use. One study by Lim and Kwon (2010) showed that male and female college students have different attitudes and behaviors towards Wikipedia. Two interesting findings in their study caught my attention:1) Females had a much more negative perception of the quality of the information that exists on Wikipedia.2) Females showed less confidence in their ability to evaluate Wikipedia's information.You can argue this study has limitations because it only looked at college students. But there are other studies that looked at Wikipedia use in the general population. A few of these studies highlighted several additional factors at play in maintaining the gender gap:1) Females have a greater tendency than men to avoid conflict situations and critical environments. On Wikipedia your work is always subject to being judged and scrutinized by others each time you contribute. This can often create an atmosphere of conflict and disagreement between editors. Because women are more likely to avoid getting into conflict situations, they tend to avoid this kind of environment. This is believed to be one of the reasons why Wikipedia has a low number of female editors.2) Another reason is that females tend to get discouraged more easily than males when their edits get deleted by other editors. This could also explain why females are less likely to contribute to Wikipedia on a regular basis.3) A third factor has to do with how men and women feel about editing the work of other contributors. Some researchers argue that females tend to dislike editing the work of other contributors (whereas this is something that males feel more comfortable doing).I am by no means an expert in this area, but the research I find interesting. The trend I'm seeing from the few studies I looked at is that multiple non-discrimination factors are involved in this gender gap. Furthermore, some of these factors are at work in more subtle and complex ways than others.
The key point I wanted to make is that the gender disparity is being maintained by numerous factors, and there is strong evidence to suggest that factors related to gender differences are playing a key role. I'm not at all trying to minimize any of the problems faced by female editors. But it would be wrong to conclude that discrimination-based factors are responsible for the shortage of female editors. This is not an accurate argument because it does not explain the whole story, and more importantly it ignores the existence of these other contributing factors and their impact.
Clearly, more research is needed. I'd love to have all the pieces of this puzzle and understand how they all fit together.
Since this thread from a few years ago, the articles and research about the discrimination that leads to the gender gap among editors on Wikipedia have been frequent, and they are easy to find, so I won't repeat those.
But the good news is that, at last, the WIkimedia foundation, which operates Wikipedia, will launch its first global code of conduct on Tuesday, seeking to address criticism that it has failed to combat harassment and suffers from a lack of diversity. Wikimedia said more than 1,500 Wikipedia volunteers from five continents and 30 languages participated in the creation of the new rules after the board of trustees voted in May last year to develop new binding standards.
“We need to be much more inclusive,” said María Sefidari, the chair of board of trustees for the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. “We are missing a lot of voices, we’re missing women, we’re missing marginalized groups.”
The new code of conduct bans harassment on and off the site, barring behaviors like hate speech, the use of slurs, stereotypes or attacks based on personal characteristics, as well as threats of physical violence and ‘hounding,’ or following someone across different articles to critique their work. It also bans deliberately introducing false or biased information into content.
Wikimedia said the next phase of the project would be working on the rules’ enforcement.
More info: https://www.reuters.com/article/wikipedia-rules-int-idUSKBN2A2181
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