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
- 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 Average Wikipedian, “Systemic Bias” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Systemic_bias
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.
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. Women typically perceive Wikipedia to be of lower quality than men do.
- How Can Wikipedia Woo Female Editors, BBC, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26828726
“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.”
- Communication Styles Make a Difference, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/02/where-are-the-women-in-wikipedia/communication-styles-make-a-difference
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.