Wikipedia is a man's game

Wikipedia is 10 years old now and the largest source of knowledge in the land. Available in more than 250 languages and with over 3.5 million articles in English, there is no arguing that Wikipedia is popular among everyone. Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia, though this becomes an argument against its accuracy. A recent survey suggests that Wikipedia is another male dominated environment. 

The March 2010 survey by Wikipedia found that only 13 percent of the contributors were female. Today, however, the figures are a little nicer. 15 percent of contributors are female, and that number has now climbed a mere two percent.

The executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Gardner, has set a goal: To get 25 percent of contributors to be female by 2015. However, she is going up against the typical stereotype in the computer world that women find it a difficult and uncomfortable environment. 

This isn't diversity for the sake of being diverse, though. Gardner has said in an interview,

This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be, The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.

Traditionally, women have lagged behind men in adoption of Internet technologies. However, it seems that this is changing, and Wikipedia wants to encourage that change.

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20 Comments

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To me, I don't care what the anatomy is of the writer, I care about how well they put the article together.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but whether the writer has a Y chromosome or not is irrelevant. therefore, I don't care if Wikipedia's female writers make up 1% or 90% of the total.

What other figures can we look at that have no bearing on the quality of someone's writing? The religions of contributors? Race? Age? Sexual orientation? Height? Favorote colors?

The goal should be the highest quality articles regardless of gender. Not a certian portion of articles from men with no regard to quality. Let's get the priorities straight here. What's next, requiring a certain portion of articles from senior citizens?

C_Guy said,
What other figures can we look at that have no bearing on the quality of someone's writing? The religions of contributors? Race? Age? Sexual orientation? Height? Favorote colors?

Well stated overall.

Right, this news item is not an invitation for hateful and sexist remarks and I've just cleaned up a bunch of nasty comments.

We do have female readers and they won't appreciate commenters acting like the place is a boy's club - it isn't.

Show some respect or go elsewhere.

Men tend to be more confident of their knowledge and ability. Overly so at times. I wonder if that causes some disparity?

Laura said,
Men tend to be more confident of their knowledge and ability. Overly so at times. I wonder if that causes some disparity?
Coming as a product developer of a site which is currently trying to improve the number of female readers - this is something we've noticed. It's not so much an issue of willingness, as how it is presented. Comment threads are really low barrier and low cost (to the user) and seem to perform much better with women compared to something high barrier (source code editing) and high potential cost (getting you edit reverted and being complained at).

Wikipedia is not a men game but a nerd/geek game, almost every single editor is a nerd or a geek. So, it is not strange how they scare women and other users.

Personally i think that women (in general) they like to share but, they are enough smart to avoid sites where she will be harassed for free.

Magallanes said,
Wikipedia is not a men game but a nerd/geek game, almost every single editor is a nerd or a geek.
Source?

Wikipedia users and contributors are really educated and sensible. So i really dont think there is anything alarming for any one thinking about participation % of female gender.

No information given in wiki is till date found to be biased about any gender or in anyway any specific gender is been over looked.

So doesn't matter about % of gender in contributors

Choto Cheeta said,
Wikipedia users and contributors are really educated and sensible. So i really dont think there is anything alarming for any one thinking about participation % of female gender.

No information given in wiki is till date found to be biased about any gender or in anyway any specific gender is been over looked.

So doesn't matter about % of gender in contributors

Agreed. A lot of people harp on about equality, but I am a believer that the person taken on should be the best person available for the job, regardless of their gender, race, sexual preference, or religious belief.

Subject Delta said,

Agreed. A lot of people harp on about equality, but I am a believer that the person taken on should be the best person available for the job, regardless of their gender, race, sexual preference, or religious belief.

That is what equality is about. You take on the best person regardless of those things, not because of, or in spite of.

Some of the affirmative action goes a long way toward making up for the privilege white men get just for being white men, but it's hard to get the balance right and fair. If only those same white men would actually help stamp out racism and sexim forever (they are the ones in power afterall).

As a woman who has not lagged behind anyone in adopting internet technologies, I don't like Wikipedia that much, other than to just quickly browse it occasionally to find out what the common wisdom is on a topic. I find the wiki-wars to be for people who like to nit-pick and carry on never-ending arguments over details that become more and more meaningless as the conversation drags on. I'll leave it to others to decide which gender is more prone to that behavior. ;-)

capr said,
maybe women in general don't like to share what they know..... anyone think of that? lol
As an example, recipes sites are incredibly popular with women ... you can't generalize that women don't like to share knowledge.

Kirkburn said,
As an example, recipes sites are incredibly popular with women ... you can't generalize that women don't like to share knowledge.
+1 for the "a woman's place is in the kitchen" stereotype?

StarLion said,
+1 for the "a woman's place is in the kitchen" stereotype?

omg...lol. Its hard not to laugh due to the irony of the post.

Shadrack said,

omg...lol. Its hard not to laugh due to the irony of the post.

haha couldnt think of a better example?

Recipes sites *are* popular with women - I didn't say all women like recipes sites. Similar for fashion and celeb gossip sites. And I'm willing to bet a lot of women comment on those sites. Being willing to share knowledge is a different thing to holding specific interests.

I assume this data is just from some sample set consisting only of contributors who have disclosed their true identities.
You don't specify a gender when you sign-up on to Wikipedia.
Edit: I missed the survey part.

figgy said,
I assume this data is just from some sample set consisting only of contributors who have disclosed their true identities.
You don't specify a gender when you sign-up on to Wikipedia.
Edit: I missed the survey part.

And as a woman you're usually better off hiding your gender on the web.