Why Don't Women Contribute to Wikipedia?

So I had been thinking about my issues of otherness, feminism, and identity formation/voice and started thinking about who has a right to speak? Who has the “right” to write history?

From there I began to dig through the research on the gender disparity in Wikipedia, and came across the following bits of evidence.

I’ll be posting my blog post soon under Activity 2 :smile:

  • Where are the Women in Wikipedia? The New York Times

Yet despite the site’s openness, surveys suggest that less than 15 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are women. The Wikipedia Foundation has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015.

The common characteristics of average Wikipedians inevitably color the content of Wikipedia. The average Wikipedian on the English Wikipedia is (1) a male, (2) technically inclined, (3) formally educated, (4) an English speaker (native or non-native), (5) aged 15–49, (6) from a majority-Christian country, (7) from a developed nation, (8) from the Northern Hemisphere, and (9) likely employed as a white-collar worker or enrolled as a student rather than employed as a blue-collar worker.[2]

Research suggests that the gender gap has a detrimental effect on content coverage: articles with particular interest to women tend to be shorter, even when controlling for variables that affect article length.[5] Women typically perceive Wikipedia to be of lower quality than men do.[6]

“When you look around the world at large, you see in public forums that men’s voices dominate the conversation,” she says. “We do see women needing more encouragement and invitation to voice their knowledge and expertise than men do. Men feel more confident doing that without the extra encouragement.”

However, men tended to assert their opinions as “facts,” whereas women tended to phrase their informative messages as suggestions, offers, and other non-assertive acts. In other words, the gender difference was in their communication styles, not in the actual informativeness of their contributions.

Wikipedia, however, doesn’t allow for the non-assertive style preferred by many women. Rather, it enforces a “neutral point of view” policy, which favors a more masculine style of communication — just the facts, ma’am. And of course the creation and editing of knowledge repositories, as evidenced in the tradition of print encyclopedias, has always been dominated by men.

Wow, fascinatingly nuanced thought. I always felt a general uneasiness about communities that are created online by its users because of how niche the group of people are that use/contribute to the Internet. But this data gives me some good, concrete information about who is doing what and what the means.

I also find that it relates to what we’re trying to do here at CU, since we all have very different levels of comfort and knowledge about how exactly to use this thing (P2P platform).

Looky looky! I just found this article @vanessa from Tracy here at CU for what I’m trying to do with learning management systems. It’s about twisting a MOOC into a DOCC (distributed online collaborative course) in accordance and about feminist principles. There’s a section in it that talks about one of the class’s efforts to “storm Wikipedia” and do just what you are describing.

The course is happening this semester.

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oh and here is a link to the FemTech commons, with what looks like a bunch of artifacts for use in “cyberfeminism” as they call it


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We <3 the FEMTECHNET folks. I should ask them for their feedback on this idea!

Good find, @Tyler!

@vanssa thank you! For posting this. I never even thought about how woman didn’t have a voice for decades. History has always been the voice of males, but that is changing. Is interesting to see how far back woman voices was not being recorded.

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