Research proves gender imbalance on Wikipedia

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Research proves gender imbalance on Wikipedia

Research proves gender imbalance on Wikipedia


[John Riedl] And so
we wanted to think, well how would you approach this
question of the gender imbalance in Wikipedia if you
wanted to approach it from a very rigorous standpoint? [If you] really wanted to
look at hundreds of thousands of editors and you wanted to
look at them across a sampling of all the articles
on Wikipedia? And so, we put together
a team here in the GroupLens research group
at the University of Minnesota to try to address these
questions, and we had a lot of fun just exploring all of the different ways you can
get information about the gender of editors on Wikipedia,
and then the kinds of work that they do and the
effect that that has on different articles
in the encyclopedia. [Tony Lam] Of editors
that joined Wikipedia in 2009 we found that
just 16% of them said that they were female. But we found that things
are, perhaps, worse than just that kind of top-level
one in six editors. When we looked a little deeper, we saw that these females
were leaving Wikipedia sooner. They were doing less work. Um, to the extent
that of the edits made by these editors
joining in 2009, females only accounted
for 9% of them. So, 16% female editors,
but 9% edits. [John Riedl] One of the sort
of fun reactions I’ve gotten, mostly from the women that I
know is they’ve said, “Well, of course, women are too busy to waste their time editing
something like Wikipedia.” But, the thing that scares
me about these data is that we’re finding that
this information resource which everyone agrees
is becoming one of the most important
information resources of our time… I mean its not something that
you use as a scholarly resource, but its something that you
use to go and get an idea of a subject, get a first look
at something, maybe get ideas of where you should go next if you’re doing a
scholarly investigation. And everyone agrees this
is incredibly important and yet its being dominated by
just half the population and that really concerns me. That seems like something
that’s unhealthy. And if there were, if
we were able to show that there was a bias there in
the coverage of articles based on these gender differences
then that would be really scary. And so, we looked very hard
to try to tease out the extent to which some articles
tended to be articles that women were more
interested in and then did those
articles suffer because there are fewer
woman editors on Wikipedia? And the answers to both of
those questions are yes, there are some good ways we
can find articles that tend to be more female-oriented
and yes, those articles are significantly
lower quality than the articles that are more male-oriented.

6 thoughts on Research proves gender imbalance on Wikipedia

  1. What is the composition of the team that investigated this issue. What "tools" did you use or did you roll your own. How long was the investigation?

  2. @raftjm They won't tell you all that in an interview. You'll have to look at the publication/s that followed their research.

    Still, his last words in there were the most gratifying to me as a man i.e. "articles edited by women…were of significantly lower quality". Yeah, men rock!

  3. @BelligerentPacifist Listen again, he didn't say the articles edited by women were of lower quality, he said the articles that were of more interest to women were of lower quality. that may indicate that men still contributed more to them but due to their lack of interest the quality was worse. Compare this to studies about open software that is maintained by a community. I can recall studies that men tended to dominate, and in fact bully the women, to the point that women eventually gave up.

  4. @vlchristensen His definition of 'female-oriented' appears to mean 'written by women', and hence my reading of his statement. Any of us could be right, and if the author of the study concurs with you, I'd defer to your opinion. Happy youtubing!

  5. He's actually referring to articles that are written about content of interest or relation to women. Whether about "films" about women, artists, or topics related to women's interests. Not necessarily by women writers.

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