The Wikipedian gender gap

According to Wikipedia’s own figures, 91% of editors are male. According to another set of their figures, it’s 90%, with 9% women and 1% transgender.

Why is there such a bias towards males?

Stereotype threat doesn’t seem a very good fit for explaining – it’s a fairly anonymous system on the internet, and they only know what gender you are based on the answer you choose to give in the editor’s survey. Not to mention that the Foundation itself is dominated by women – Sue Gardner is Executive Director of the Wikipedia Foundation and Kat Walsh is the Chair of the Board.

The New York Times caused quite a stir when they wrote about it, quoting Jane Margolis who suggests “women are less willing to assert their opinions in public”. Meanwhile Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, writing in Business Insider, suggests that would upset many existing editors if they were discriminated against by pro-female initiatives.

Many people have weighed in on the debate too and Sue Gardner has done an excellent job of rounding up the opinions on her blog.

Indeed, opinions are so varied, that perhaps the message we can take from it is that more research needs to be done on the subject. It’s interesting to note that while women are very unrepresented, transgender people are actually over represented (1% of Wikipedia compared to 0.3% in the general population), so suggestions of it being a patriarchal problem wouldn’t seem to stand up.

In the meantime, you can always take some positive action and begin contributing to Wikipedia.



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This entry was posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 7:34 am and is filed under Religion & Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.