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Wikipedia Works To Close Gender Gap 376

Posted by samzenpus
from the wiki-suffrage dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Wikimedia Foundation collaborated on a study of Wikipedia's contributor base last year and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women and set a goal to bring it up to 25 percent by 2015. But now the NY Times (reg. may be required) reports that progress in reaching that goal is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. 'The big problem is that the current Wikipedia community is what came about by letting things develop naturally,' says Kat Walsh, a member of the Wikimedia board. 'Trying to influence it in another direction is no longer the easiest path, and requires conscious effort to change.' Joseph Reagle says that Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd including an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women. Adopting openness means being 'open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,' adds Reagle, 'so you have to have a huge argument about whether there is the problem.'"
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Wikipedia Works To Close Gender Gap

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  • by Rotworm (649729) * on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:14PM (#35119664) Homepage Journal
    Seems a statement of suspicious sketch. As long as I've been paying attention to Wikipedia there've been rules and guidelines to promote particular behaviours and dissuade others, from writing styles to definitions of what counts as evidence. Is the author saying the hackerish Wikipedia base will co-operate with other guidelines, but not ones promoting diversity? Suspect.
    Futher, "adopting openness means being 'open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,'" also seems to be non-intuitive. I wonder what evidence drew those conclusions. If it was a Wikipedia article, at least I could follow the citation.

    A bonus disagree comes from

    "According to the OpEd Project, an organization based in New York that monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to “public thought-leadership forums,” a participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common — whether members of Congress, or writers on The New York Times and Washington Post Op-Ed pages.

    It would seem to be an irony that Wikipedia, where the amateur contributor is celebrated, is experiencing the same problem as forums that require expertise."

    I don't think that's ironic at all. 85% of experts wear black socks, ironically 85% of the population also wears black socks.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:20PM (#35119678)

    Being "open" also means being open to people who might not want to participate. What difference does it make?

    • by Suiggy (1544213) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:26PM (#35119728)

      I agree with you. I don't think there is a problem. The goal of Wikipedia should be to aggregate facts and develop well-written, unbiased comprehensive treatments on various subjects. Focusing on anything else only detracts from that. It should be run like a meritocracy. In the likeliness of open source where the best code wins, may the best prose win.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Rotworm (649729) *
        Wikipedia thinks having diverse contributors helps develop well-written, unbiased comprehensive treatments on various subjects. In this case, the argument goes, topics of typically male interest tend to receive more attention from the larger male contributor base, whereas topics of typical female interest receive less.
        • by yndrd1984 (730475) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:06PM (#35120004)

          Wikipedia thinks having diverse contributors helps develop well-written, unbiased comprehensive treatments on various subjects. In this case, the argument goes, topics of typically male interest tend to receive more attention from the larger male contributor base, whereas topics of typical female interest receive less.

          Which would be a good reason to recruit women, but I rarely see campaigns to add the views of senior citizens, Mennonites, or third-world people to most websites. Because of that, I suspect that their motivation has more to do with bowing to social pressure and a desire to look good than to actually add diverse viewpoints.

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:08PM (#35120028)
          If women consider that to be a problem, they should contribute to articles on topics of interest to them. If they are not willing to do that, then they can put up with the situation. There are plenty of articles that I have come across that I would have liked to see more detail on, and I have contributed to some.

          There is nothing -- nothing -- that actually stops women from contributing. If they do not want to do so, then so what?
        • They're tackling the wrong problem. It's not that the ratio of men to women is too high, it's that the ratio of asshats to everyone else is too high. Reduce the asshat proportion of Wikipedians, and it becomes much easier to recruit new contributors from any segment of the population.
      • by kdemetter (965669) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:51PM (#35119910)

        I actually wonder how they can know the sex of all the contributors. I don't recall having to fill this in , and i just looked at my preferences , i don't see it there.

        So how can do they know this 13% ? If they did a poll , that may only mean women are less likely to fill in polls.

        Personally , if more women want to join wikipedia , they are welcome , if they don't want to , we should respect that too.

        The idea that you need to change wikipedia , so it attracts more women, implies that you do not respect women enough to allow them to make up there own mind about whether to join or not ( as you already assume that they won't like it, before they had a chance to voice their opinion ).

        • by causality (777677) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:23PM (#35120156)

          The idea that you need to change wikipedia , so it attracts more women, implies that you do not respect women enough to allow them to make up there [sic] own mind about whether to join or not ( as you already assume that they won't like it, before they had a chance to voice their opinion ).

          The message it sends is that women are not self-determined and able to decide for themselves, but rather, are some kind of commodity to be traded or prize to be won. For some reason this is celebrated with lofty talk about diversity and such... I don't understand why so few see it as the insult that it really is. It can be phrased as "we know what you women want even better than you do and clearly your failure to recognize that is why our percentage of women is so low."

          Garden-variety arrogance is obviously condescending and is intended to be. The refined, concentrated kind is very good at disguising itself as some kind of noble impulse. The people who perpetrate it are not really liars. They're true believers because they don't see the hypocrisy of their position. It doesn't help that so many naive people thoughtlessly give automatic support to anything that sounds like it has good intentions.

          Now if there are women who make good contributions to Wikipedia who are getting shunned for no reason except that they are women, by all means this needs to be stopped. There's no good reason to do that to anyone who follows the rules and makes useful contributions. But once that's accomplished, stop telling people what they should want to do and how many of them should want to do it, especially on the basis of some group identity.

          • Completely agreed. I'm a male feminist (not to be confused with effeminate) but I'm completely against gender quotas and similar measures. The result is often is places like Berlusconi's party, where women are chosen by their looks instead of merit.

          • This idea that women as a group don't want to contribute to Wikipedia is an interesting one. Certainly that could explain the incredibly small representation of a group that makes up more than half of the world. And, if this is the case, then it strikes me as a particularly difficult problem for a relatively small enterprise like Wikipedia to resolve. However, there are alternative possibilities that you don't seem to be considering.

            For example, what if the problem is that Wikipedia's procedures/culture/

            • by causality (777677)

              For example, what if the problem is that Wikipedia's procedures/culture/approach do not appeal to women? Then that means that Wikipedia is missing out on a very large group of potential contributors (contributors being the lifeblood of Wikipedia). In that case, relatively straightforward changes might make a vast difference in women's participation.

              Very few institutional/organization procedures, cultures, and approaches appeal to me. I find large hierarchies to be cumbersome, tedious, boring, and full of

        • by bbtom (581232) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:38PM (#35120258) Homepage Journal

          Gender IS in preferences. You can choose between male, female and unspecified. This is to customise UI on the site so it has the appropriate pronouns. You can do this all over the place, like this:

          {{gender:Jimbo Wales|man|woman|person}}

          (replacing Jimbo Wales with your WP username (or a template that substitutes the current user's name) and the words man, woman and person with wikitext that you want returned)

          This is used quite a bit for Userboxes so that they can make it text in the userbox switch dynamically between "This user lives in London and [they like/he likes/she likes] travelling on the Underground" or whatever.

          The problem with the preferences route is unspecified may be because you haven't set it or it may be because you don't want to set it (or you don't fall into male/female because you are transgendered or whatever).

          There have been polls and studies done though. You can read about them on http://enwp.org/WP:BIAS [enwp.org] or http://enwp.org/WP:ACST [enwp.org]

      • Wait I disagree with this. There is no such thing as unbiased. We are all biased towards something.

        Let me explain. Take any moment in life, and try to describe it. We can't describe every facet of it, since that would result in information overflow. Thus we narrow it down to a subset. And here is the rub. What subset will it be narrowed down to? Answer, to the subset that the individual thinks is the true answer. Hence we let our biases guide what we think are facts.

        Thus while we write "unbiased" and only f

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:40PM (#35119830) Journal
      If your project depends entirely on the effort of participants, trying to determine why some people don't want to participate, and then figuring out what non-participants can be converted without causing other damage, is pretty much the most important job the leadership has.

      I don't think that focusing on the male/female ratio is all that productive in itself, a change that doubles the number of useful contributors but leaves the ratio untouched would be more useful than one that attracts a few more females to bump their numbers up to 25%, for instance; but it can be diagnostically useful.

      If your numbers are 85/15, this suggests that there is something about your project that is leaving a number of potential contributors on the table. What is that? Are there changes we can make that would bring them in to the project? Would there be costs associated with doing so?

      Since not all contributors are equally useful, not all changes that increase absolute numbers are good; but constantly trying to identify under-tapped potential contributors and figure out if they can be brought in in a useful way is a vital exercise. For a fairly mature project like wikipedia(everybody knows about them, they have more pagerank than god, ignorance is unlikely to be the reason behind most non-contributors), focusing on anomalies in your contributor statistics is a good way of identifying potential issues that might be standing in the way of your growth.

      For J Random OSS project, it is easy(and often correct) to just say "obscurity is the problem" and go from there; but wikipedia is about as far from obscure as any entity without a 500million TV advertising budget can be. If they want new blood, their analysis will have to be more subtle...
    • by westlake (615356)

      Being "open" also means being open to people who might not want to participate. What difference does it make?

      It makes a difference when the essays published in your encyclopedia have an unmistakable gender bias. It makes a difference when women are unwilling to contribute to your project or recommend it to others.

      • Does it make a difference that women have not made any attempt to create something better? The software that runs Wikipedia is available to anyone who wants to start their own project. That is precisely what the people who started Conservopedia did when they felt that Wikipedia did not represent their worldview. If women feel left out, let them go ahead and make their own version of Wikipedia, which less "biased" (or perhaps one that is biased toward their own view of the world?).
    • by Seumas (6865)

      There's no barrier to contributing to Wikipedia. If women want to contribute more, they will. They have internet connections and keyboards, just like everyone else.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I also wonder what would it take to bring more women to wikipedia ?

      The more I read about feminism and the equality between men and women, the more I believe that the current cause of inequality is not caused by men refusing to give rights to women but more with women refusing to take them.

      Honestly, the fight to make men recognize they don't have more rights than women has been won but the fight to make women accept that they have the same rights has still to be fought.
  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sixthousand (676886) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:23PM (#35119696)
    Or is imposed diversity actually more sexist than a natural gender imbalance?
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:36PM (#35119802)

      That depends on whether the gender imbalance is really natural, or if it is caused by a culture of misogyny. In the case of Wikipedia, my guess is that it is indeed a natural imbalance - the people who edit it tend to be obsessive and may have minor autism spectrum disorders. Since autism is generally 3-4 times as common in men as in women, that would explain most of the imbalance.

      However, there are other cases where the imbalance is legitimately caused by cultures which are hostile towards women. Whether it's internet forums with near constant sexist jokes ranging from sandwich-making to rape, or corporate good old boys getting together at strip clubs, it does happen, and often. So don't always dismiss imposed diversity as sexism, because it's not.

      • So clearly the solution is to increase the commonality of autism in women such that it's more gender neutral and let everything else fall into place. I kid of course, but this does raise a good example of natural gender imbalance. Genetic disease. I don't imagine that anyone whose lives are affected by autism would waste their time consulting the ACLU.

        In regard to imbalance resulting from a culture of bias, I can't help but feel like imposing artificial equalizers does more harm than good by simply perpetua

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Imposed diversity in terms of gender is definitely sexism. You can encourage women to enter a field by cleaning up the misogyny and change rules to be equitable in that dimension which is definitely not sexist. However compelling parity without concern for why there is a difference in the future is a dangerous point to be in.

        Also your argument that men make those sorts of sexist remarks more than women really requires some sort of a citation. Sure women tend not to be as vulgar about those sorts of subjects

      • by sznupi (719324)
        Such people might also easily discourage contributions, easily create somewhat hostile culture. Even if only in types of article topics which are valued more than the "girly" ones...

        Focusing on Wikipedia, vs. Wikimedia, might be generally a wrong approach. The latter, as a whole, might easily provide more conductive grounds, where more "girly" perspective might easily be an advantage (no reason for the "correction" to be homogeneous across subprojects).

        The Wikimedia - involvement in actions of the fou
    • There's a corollary in Major LEague BAseball. Various people have noticed that the fraction of Black ballplayers has fallen dramatically since the 70s. They want to institute programs to change this. Why? Maybe black people have something better to do. It's not like there are not opportunities, or that there is anything that is structurally preventing it.

           

      • Various people have noticed that the fraction of Black ballplayers [in Major League Baseball] has fallen dramatically since the 70s. They want to institute programs to change this. Why? Maybe black people have something better to do.

        Of course they have something better to do. I think it's called NBA.

      • It's not like there are not opportunities, or that there is anything that is structurally preventing it.

        That's the question: are there opportunities? Is there something structurally preventing it?

        In the case of baseball, it may (I do not say that it is, I only speculate) be the case that youth baseball programs are less available to black kids. If so it would be entirely appropriate for MLB to say, "hey, let's support inner city Little League teams." Or if it was found that there was (again, just specula

    • by clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:37PM (#35120238)
      Women dominate in certain fields of endeavor and it is generally accepted that the female brain is wired for social interaction. Men routinely dominate Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions. Perhaps there is something in the wiring of the male brain that favors the accumulation of arcane bits of knowledge. If so, then forcing gender balance in Wkipedia makes about as much sense as forcing gender balance in the LaLeche League. [wikipedia.org]
      • by k8to (9046)

        making statements about "the female brain" and the "the male brain" being wired in categorically different ways may not be a representation of sexism, but it does encourage it.

        The fact is individual variance is far far larger than normative gender gaps. Any environment which is so highly polarized (13%) is not going to be from natural causes, but rather some other issue. There are many possible such other issues. For example the lack of trash-women (sanitation engineers) is probably for different causes

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          The fact is individual variance is far far larger than normative gender gaps.

          Find an eight-year-old kid and try telling them that boys and girls think the same; they'll probably just laugh at you. Believing that men and women are the same takes a great deal of practice at ignoring reality.

          There are certainly very 'masculine' women and very 'feminine' men, but the reality is that men tend to be at one end of the scale and women at the other, and the number who are at the opposite end of the psychological scale from their natural position is pretty small. And there's nothing wrong wit

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:25PM (#35119710)
    Not to be sexist, but does it really matter? Is there some reason that having a larger percentage of women contributors would make Wikipedia a better place? If not, there's no reason to go out of the way to increase the contributions from women, especially if it degrades the quality of Wikipedia in the process.

    If it's a problem of members being sexist or misogynistic, take steps to fix that. Trying to force some quota probably isn't the best solution to this problem, if it even is a problem.
    • Re:Does it matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crath (80215) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @05:19PM (#35120624) Homepage

      I am a Wikipedia (WP) contributor. The biggest problem I have observed with WP contributions is that there is a hard core of WP members who call themselves editors and who's primary contribution to WP is to delete contributions that do not conform to their WP code of contribution. These wikideletionists / wikipolice discourage newcomers instead of coaching and encouraging them.

      One page I monitor was recently updated by a new contributor; but, because the newcomer hadn't provided any attribution for the new information one of the wikipolice reverted the edit with a comment that no attribution had been provided -- instead of simply sending the newcomer a message pointing out that the attribution was necessary. The newcomer didn't return to resubmit their info.; they simply gave up and went away... another potential contributor was alienated.

      Bad WP behaviour is tolerated by WP leadership. This is very sad. Even more discouraging is that the leadership has identified a lack of women contributors as an issue, when the real problem is the bad behaviour of a small minority.

  • Could be useful... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:26PM (#35119724) Journal
    I don't see that trying to bump the percentage, in itself, would be wildly useful to the project(trying to bump the absolute numbers, certainly; but the ratio, less obviously)...

    However, efforts to modify the current situation might well have broader benefits. Criticism of wikipedia(aside from that of sniffy old media types, which is rarely all that interesting) largely focuses on the perception, sometimes the reality, that swaths of it tend to fall under the most obsessive rules-lawyering assholes with sufficiently long attention spans. On the plus side, these types are something of a bulwark against pure chaos and obvious troll-edits. On the minus side, as anybody who has ever played a tabletop RPG with an obsessive, rules-lawyering asshole can attest, such people are hell to work with and can crush the enthusiasm and patience of virtually anybody by sheer force of persistent pedantry.

    If they want more female contributors, they'll have to do something about that. If successful, they will probably end up with more contributors across the board.
  • Real Problem (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:28PM (#35119738)

    Wikipedia is full of jerks obsessed with rules, with dominance and penis waving.

    Women see this and take off, because it's jut not appealing to most of them. So do a lot of men. What's left is the aggressive types who further escalate the problem every step of the way.

    Oddly it's much like Congress.

    • I agree.

      I used to "edit" quite a bit, but after being banned by some penis waiver, I just edit anon (with IP).

      It's not really a "community" I want to be a part of.
    • by keeboo (724305)

      Wikipedia is full of jerks obsessed with rules, with dominance and penis waving.

      Looks like Academia to me.

  • Sort of ironic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:31PM (#35119762)

    ... that when writing an the article about a gender gap at Wikipedia the author hardly talks to any female Wikipedians and then completely ignores the position of the only one he does talk to when her comments don't agree with his pet theory [mindspillage.org]. Meanwhile the author, and slashdot, quote extensively from some dude who's never really used Wikipedia and who's primary qualification is writing a book on about Wikipedia based mostly on his own weakly researched but confidently stated opinions.

    I guess the intention was to inform people about the wikipedia gender gap by demonstrating how it comes into being: The woman of considerable expertise gives a polite, considered, and conservatively stated opinion-- while the man of no particular qualification gives an exaggerated and speculative answer... and the reporter responds be deemphasizing the woman's qualifications, ignoring her position, and running with whichever view is most aggressively promoted or fitting his preconceived notions. Kinda like how Wikipedia works. Women are systematically excluded not because they're women, but because the entire process promotes assholes and women are flaming assholes a little less often.

  • They just need to publicize all the great anime information that's available on Wikipedia.

    Chicks dig anime, right?

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:41PM (#35119836) Homepage

    Easy way to get women to correct more Wikipedia articles: change the template so that every article starts out with "Your husband says that..."

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:43PM (#35119844)
    I've always found computers, coding and gaming to be a social experience, and indeed any online community is exactly that, a social group. I pretty much got into computers when I found other kids at school who were into them also. Any partiuclar hobby or career may have it's clique, and such social groups tend to recruit new members as they grow.

    This may explain gender imbalance, once the social group becomes predominantly one sex or even one demographic, it makes it harder for the other to enter.

    So the solution is... well I don't know, but knowing the above, that gives some idea on how to make change? Get high profile women involved, who can encourage others?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:45PM (#35119858) Homepage

    It's not as if women are doing nothing while being blocked from doing things that are more open to men. Women are doing whatever it is women do and most of the time, it's whatever they WANT to do. It just so happens that what women want to do is often different from that which men want to do. Why is that wrong?

    Equal participation and equal access are not the same. There is already equal access. My internet connection doesn't check for a penis before letting me route traffic. So what's the REAL issue here? What's the real goal?

    There are many things where men aren't expected and aren't exactly welcome. I rarely... actually, NEVER hear about that. Women are not the "under-privileged sex." Why do we have to keep acting as if they are?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635)

      It's not as if women are doing nothing while being blocked from doing things that are more open to men. Women are doing whatever it is women do and most of the time, it's whatever they WANT to do. It just so happens that what women want to do is often different from that which men want to do. Why is that wrong?

      Equal participation and equal access are not the same. There is already equal access. My internet connection doesn't check for a penis before letting me route traffic. So what's the REAL issue here? What's the real goal?

      The real goal is some sort of imaginary "equality". A few people suffer from the delusion that increasing the number of women will somehow magically make Wikipedia better. Sorry, but there are just as many stupid women as there are stupid men. Actually, there are probably more stupid women since women out number men.

      The only thing Wikipedia should be concerned with is "are these articles any good". Period.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Actually, there are probably more stupid women since women out number men.

        But from what I've read on the subject men seem to have greater IQ variance than women, so the percentage of really stupid men is larger than the percentage of really stupid women (but so is the percentage of really smart men).

      • by Tailhook (98486)

        A few people suffer from the delusion that increasing the number of women will somehow magically make Wikipedia better.

        It isn't a delusion. For the people you have in mind balancing the ratio will improve Wikipedia regardless of any actual consequence for Wikipedia and its content. The consequences will be portrayed as positive in any case.

        Failing to understand this demonstrates the naivety of typical western misogynist bigots; having never suffered discrimination, subtle or overt, it doesn't occur to you that 'others' live with a carefully nurtured chip on their shoulder and quantify everything in terms of gender, race,

    • by Tailhook (98486)

      Why do we need to care about a gender gap?

      We don't 'need' to but it is fun. We're members of the most staggeringly wealthy class of people in the history of our species and have solved most of the actual problems suffered by our ancestors. As such, we must invent new 'problems' to indulge.

      As for why Wikipedia doesn't attract women, the reason is obvious when you take off the rose-color glasses through which we've decided to view all things Wikipedia. Wikipedia is competitive and its participants are highly critical, even hostile. Fewer women th

    • by Velex (120469) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:35PM (#35120226) Journal

      There are many things where men aren't expected and aren't exactly welcome.

      And lord have mercy on any transsexual that gets clocked in one of those places. Females are far more sexist and closed-minded than any male I know.

      Let me share my experience with both genders when caught as the other gender in a place I shouldn't be as that gender.

      There's a reason I use the men's bathroom at bars, even if I'm passing. It's just not worth the drama to use the bathroom of the gender I'm presenting as.

      A guy who sees someone apparently female in the men's room is sometimes surprised or shocked. Sometimes the man will become angry, especially if he's older. But yet, at the end of the day, I have not had a single serious problem with being apparently female, even fixing my hair or something, in the men's room. No police, not a ton of drama.

      Now, I don't know myself what it's like to be a guy caught in the women's room, but from what I understand, it involves the police, drama, screaming, more drama, and signs that get posted at clubs saying that "crossdressers" must use the men's room. Then you have to show your papers and make sure you always have that letter from the psychologist that says you may use the women's room. Even though that really carries no legal weight and you're still getting your ass escorted out of the bar anyway.

      No, females are not the under-privileged sex anymore, if they ever were.

      I rarely... actually, NEVER hear about that.

      How many guys do you know who want to be in on a baby shower?

      Why do we have to keep acting as if they are?

      Because nobody understands exactly how men and women are different. It's frustrating trying to relate to a society that believes men and women are different, but in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons.

      Once people learn to be as indifferent to a starving woman with 3 starving kids as a man who's failed to provide his family with food, once people learn that those two situations are the same thing, then we might get some true gender equality going on.

      Women should not need to be coddled little children. Men and women are different, but women are certainly not weak. They do not need to be coddled. There aren't enough women contributing to wikipedia? What the hell is a man going to do about that? Anything a man does is, by definition, a man contributing to the project. He can't force women to participate.

      Look into the drama surrounding a transsexual in an abusive relationship who tries to get into a battered women's shelter, and the truth shall set ye free.

      It's a chauvinism designed to keep women irresponsible little children. The worst part is that, for the most part, its women who are propagating it. Women want to be able to walk through the door to the male side, but they don't want to let anyone in from the other side.

      A woman just has to sit back and let her body just do its animal functions, because there will always be a man to rush in and save her whether personally or by proxy of government assistance. There will always be someone to feel sorry for her. A woman has no need for something like wikipedia. Wikipedia has man-knowledge, things that men write down so the next generation can build upon it. Woman-knowledge, on the other hand, is always about transient, animal things, like their period or their pregnancy, things they feel in the moment. Woman-knowledge is always renewed, but yet stagnant. Woman-knowledge is not knowledge for building and improving, like man-knowledge is.

      But hey, if you had that deal, would you want to give it up?

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Wow. What an interesting response!

        I like babies... baby showers? Not so much -- I think it is making babies into accessories and toys which need more accessories and toys. Still, I like babies -- they are just like little people but without all the things I hate about people and they are far easier to forgive when they throw up on you.

      • No, females are not the under-privileged sex anymore

        While I agree with your post in general, that's not true.
        Salary gender gap still exists (women get 77% of a man's salary, in average), for example.

        if they ever were.

        Oh, come on, that's just trolling.

      • This is nicely reflected in statistics on domestic violence. If you'd ask friends or colleagues what the statistics are on men at the receiving end of domestic violence, they'd probably laugh.

        Fact is, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States [usdoj.gov]. It's not like the 95%/5% distribution that most people think about.

      • by KillerBob (217953)

        I logged into an account I promised myself I would never use again, just to avoid undoing mod points to reply to this. I was sorely tempted to simply moderate you down, but I think that somebody needs to point out a few home truths to you instead.

        And lord have mercy on any transsexual that gets clocked in one of those places. Females are far more sexist and closed-minded than any male I know.

        Let me share my experience with both genders when caught as the other gender in a place I shouldn't be as that gender

    • by lennier (44736)

      My internet connection doesn't check for a penis before letting me route traffic.

      Oh! So the USB socket isn't for... well, now I feel stupid.

  • ... an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men ...

    Now, where have I heard that before . . . ?

  • by xkr (786629) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @03:59PM (#35119946)

    I was a teacher for a while, while my daughter was in an all-women college. The fact is that women find group participation harder than men. We saw it in the classroom all the time. Teachers had to gently restrain over-eager boys while calmly encouraging the girls to speak up. But surveys at the end of the term ALWAYS showed that both the boys and girls said they "got more out of" classes that had mixed gender participation. Why would the wikipedia environment be any different?

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Many males are dominated by the urge to be the "alpha male", and this turns it into a battle wills. That's just the nature of most male mammals and has been for hundreds of millions of years. Females typically avoid the center of contention and use the quiet periods in-between confrontation to subtlety work their influence.

      Perhaps they may feel more comfortable focusing on ignored or low-profile topics rather than just jump into the center of the pile. There's plenty of topics that need attention.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        women do the same kind of thing, just with things men don't tend to care about. Want examples? Flip on the tv and watch some soaps like 'desperate housewives' and 'jersey shore.' Women get off on that shit, that's why there's so much of it.

    • I suspect many people here and on Wikipedia value unrestricted free speech as an intrinsic moral principle more than they value diversity as a goal or even more than they value having a good encyclopedia as a goal. If the consequence of allowing everyone people to participate as much as they want is that there are more men than women or that the encyclopedia isn't quite as good as it could be, then that's just the way things have to be, unfortunately.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      It depends on the class, in general I prefer to have a mix of women and men. I have however come to the conclusion that discussions about sexism that involve women are completely worthless. The bullying that goes on and the inability to point out that men hardly have a corner on the sexism market goes a long ways towards preventing it from becoming a frank and honest discussion of the topic. I had to sit through a class a few weeks back where they were covering it and it was basically bash on men day. I was

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      But surveys at the end of the term ALWAYS showed that both the boys and girls said they "got more out of" classes that had mixed gender participation.

      But, uh, the only actual scientific studies I'm aware of show that both boys and girls do better in single-sex classes than mixed.

  • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet.hotmail@com> on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:15PM (#35120084) Journal
    I am amused that the Slashdot crowd is trying to give advice on how to encourage the greater participation of women in an online community.

    Just sayin'.

  • statstically more men are drawn to math/science/technology than women. Big surprise there. that's why most people who post to wiki are male. However, I am sure there are articles written by women on subjects they're interested in. Does anyone here even wonder about the gender of the author when they're looking something up? I highly doubt it. Why? Because gender in this case is an irrelevant attribute. The article is sound or it is not.. Another example of 'initiatives' like this is when colleges fall ov

  • by Pranadevil2k (687232) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @04:20PM (#35120134)

    Okay, so we have an organization that invites everyone to join in and write stuff. There is no discrimination, as long as you follow the guidelines which are perfectly reasonable for keeping Wikipedia a useful and informative source of information. Years pass. Then some analyst comes along and says there aren't enough women contributors at Wikipedia... Well, it isn't like there was a sign that said 'no girls allowed.' There was nothing barring women from joining the community at all, except possibly their own personal decisions not to.

    Wikipedia is 'equal opportunity' in just about every sense of the term. If they start incentivising or somehow attempting to skew the population of contributors to get more women, they become LESS so, not more. This is like the manager of a McDonalds seeing he only has white employees so he posts a sign that says "Black help wanted." It's completely batshit crazy. Maybe women who use the site just don't want to become contributors; maybe the majority of users of the site are men; maybe people in general don't know how to become contributors (which is at least somewhat more of a legitimate issue).

    There could be any number of reasons for the shortage of female contributors, but as long as there are no restrictions on women joining and putting up their information I don't see this as any problem. I'd be saying the exact same thing if they said only 13% of the wikipedia contributors are men, or black, or jewish, or whatever denomination. It really doesn't matter when they haven't prevented anyone from joining.

  • by mwvdlee (775178)

    I though Wikipedia was supposed to be objective facts; neutral point of view.
    Unless some pages of Wikipedia are misogynist, gender diversity won't improve Wikipedia.

  • Look, I don't care if women are more involved in programming, IT or whatever. I never discourage any that I know from entering the field or any that I work with. My mother-in-law was, in fact, an old school assembly and punch card type programmer for IBM and still works in management there. It's cool. I think it's great.

    However, there is no great wall keeping women out of IT or out of Wikipedia for that matter. Why the fuck should we try to entice people to do something they're clearly not interested in? I'

  • by turing_m (1030530) on Sunday February 06, 2011 @06:03PM (#35121056)
    ... is that 85% of the allegedly female 13% are also male too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 06, 2011 @11:59PM (#35123154)

    I am one of the (relatively) small number of women in the IT industry who regularly reads Slashdot. However, as with Wikipedia, I rarely contribute. Is that part of my nature? I am not sure. But I do not feel compelled to contribute, unless I am riled, as now.

    There is nothing stopping me from contributing, least of all my sex. I am fully aware that most of the contributors are men, but I like men, mostly, and that doesn't bother me.

    Now, the article as I understood it seemed to imply that some special measures needed to be taken to boost the numbers of women contributors. This is a form of reverse discrimination, and I have a real problem with that. I have suffered as a woman from the fallout of badly handled attempts at "affirmative action". The only system that works is a meritocracy. Any time you make special exceptions, in the end, you create injustice and unintended consequences.

    The article discussed some of what we were "missing out on" by not being more "inclusive" of women contributors - apparently we don't have enough gender/political diatribes and excrutiating feminist biographies. Please, spare me the navel-gazing "Women's Studies" tripe. I read that stuff as a young woman struggling to make it in a man's world as a software engineer. Up to a point, it can be empowering. Beyond that point and it's poison. The worst of it encourages an impractical sense of natural entitlement, based on specious, gender-specific propoganda. It often leaves women socially isolated, embittered and unemployable, unable to function in an imperfect world.

    Most times, when I see an organization like Wikipedia suddenly bent double in self-reproach that they are not "doing enough for women" it often comes down to a small number of very vocal feminist activists targeting that organization for very specific political purposes. Wikipedia has a lot of influence on the Internet. If you write an article defining "rape" in Wikipedia, no matter how crazy it is, that definition will appear in the first page of results in Google Search every time. So it's just a good PR strategy to try and bludgeon your way into Wikipedia if you can. You have to admire the chutzpah.

    That's what I suspect this is really all about.

    Wikipedia needs to be very careful here - in the interests of science and objectivity, Wikipedia needs to preserve it's culture of meritocracy, flawed though it may be. To potentially create a clique of writers who cannot be criticized or disciplined because it's "too politically sensitive" is a recipe for disaster. It would not be long before that small group ended up vetting the entire Wikipedia on the basis of feminist orthodoxy. At that point, you might as well just surrender.

    The idea that "women" are being excluded from Wikipedia is nonsense. The idea that "women" need special allowances made because we are somehow "not capable" of making it in the male-dominated culture of Wikipedia is both absurd and highly insulting. Be very clear, these women do not represent all "women". They do not represent me. They do not represent the majority of the women I know. But then the only women I tend to hang out with are strong, assertive, feminine IT professionals like the women I work with every day. They, we, have no need of any phony "help", thanks very much for nothing.

    Wikipedia will lose its reputation as a source of impartial knowledge if it succombs to this pressure. Don't fall for it Jim.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday February 07, 2011 @10:22AM (#35125766) Journal

    Anyone think it was ironic that I was going to read this to my wife, while she was on her computer finishing the month-end reporting for our business (just before she went downstairs to get some housework done)?

    If you think about it for a second, perhaps you'll see why more men than women post on Wikipedia.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

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