Exploring the gender gap in Wikipedia editors

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Exploring the gender gap in Wikipedia editors

Exploring the gender gap in Wikipedia editors


Wikipedia is probably the biggest
resource that people turn to now for information. It’s based on a model of
open editing as in anyone anywhere can edit it. About 80% of the editors are male. I didn’t realize this statistic was quite that bad. There is a huge gender
gap in terms of who controls information. And if it’s really focused
on only one kind of person’s perspective then you’re missing a lot of information. My name is Amanda Menking. I’ve been researching the gender gap on Wikipedia –
gender gap in participation – for about the last five years. It was interesting
to me because the studies kind of position the gender gap is a woman
problem. So women don’t like criticism, women don’t like conflict, women don’t
have the technical skills to edit. And I remember reading those studies and
thinking this doesn’t sound quite right because there are obviously women in the
community who are editing and I wonder how they perceive things? I’ve been a Wikipedia editor since 2007. I’ve been a volunteer for Wikipedia since
2005. I’ve done some work in it, five years maybe. People can get harassed when
they’re editing content in Wikipedia. Simple things of their edits being what
they call ‘reverted’, receiving unwanted sexual advances, stalking them at these
offline events, it goes beyond trolling – different platforms like Twitter for
example, because of things that took place on Wikipedia. I hate to say it’s common, but it does happen. If you’re
constantly getting negative feedback for doing something, how often are you going
to do it? Women on the english-language Wikipedia
don’t all feel the same way about this. Some women that we talked to you said, I
don’t consider a gender to be a factor, it doesn’t impact me. So I think that
people are becoming a little more aware of some of the challenges – how to make it
safer for people in ways that keeps their identity more secure that
notices when there’s harassment going on and potentially intervening. Two the big
initiatives that are going to be happening this next year – one of them is
writing a universal code of conduct, and the second one is us making a new user
reporting system. It does matter who writes history, who writes knowledge,
who writes information. If you say that you are the sum of all human knowledge
then you need representative humans contributing that information.It’s
really essential.

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