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Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia 579

Andreas Kolbe writes Wikipedia is well known to have a very large gender imbalance, with survey-based estimates of women contributors ranging from 8.5% to around 16%. This is a more extreme gender imbalance than even that of Reddit, the most male-dominated major social media platform, and it has a palpable effect on Wikipedia content. Moreover, Wikipedia editor survey data indicate that only 1 in 50 respondents is a mother – a good proportion of female contributors are in fact minors, with women in their twenties less likely to contribute to Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation efforts to address this "gender gap" have so far remained fruitless. Wikipedia's demographic pattern stands in marked contrast to female-dominated social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, where women aged 18 to 34 are particularly strongly represented. It indicates that it isn't lack of time or family commitments that keep women from contributing to Wikipedia – women simply find other sites more attractive. Wikipedia's user interface and its culture of anonymity may be among the factors leading women to spend their online time elsewhere.
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Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:31AM (#47781719)

    Yes i am aware of the irony of posting this AC. Though i prefer to think it makes my point.

    Any time someone attacks anonymity, ask what they stand to gain by it. Ask what the platform that is promoting their article or post has to gain by it.

    Read this, it'll open your eyes.

  • by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:33AM (#47781733)

    Wikimedia Foundation efforts to address this "gender gap" have so far remained fruitless.

    Why must everything be gender balanced? Why not let women do what they want instead of trying to force them in to places that aren't necessarily their thing?

    If women are actors instead of objects, they can make their own damn choices and do what they want to do without requiring others to try to sweeten the deal specifically for them to try to entice them.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:35AM (#47781745)

    Its not bias against women. its women choosing not to participate. End of argument.

  • Re:Discrimination (Score:5, Insightful)

    by craigminah ( 1885846 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:39AM (#47781759)
    How about we admit men and women are different, with different interests, and desires? Who gives a crap if men and women do the same thing as long as nothing stopping them from trying? Eliminate discrimination from the selection process and I bet women still don't give a crap about Wikipedia or many other "male-dominated" fields...why must we force equal distribution of gender/race/etc in everything? Again, make sure the selection process is fair and let things be.
  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:51AM (#47781807)

    What do you mean by gender bias? Does wikipedia need to do something special to attract girl? That would be gender bias. The way it works now is gender equality, and it's nobody's fault that women have other interests in mind.
    But nevermind me, let me hear your suggestions on making this site better suited to women!

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:56AM (#47781829)

    Yep, that's what I was thinking. Also a seemingly inherent need to pontificate about any random philosophy, statistics, or trivia they may or may not actually be experts on.

    Really, this should have been completely obvious to anyone who posts on slashdot (not to mention the gender gap here makes Wikipedia look like a bridal shower in comparison).

  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @12:58AM (#47781845)

    I like that - "actors instead of objects". That's a great turn of phrase.

    And it emphasizes that any sort of gender/race/sexual orientation re-balancing is at its essence *objectifying* people. It's asserting that they must be defined by some label, and must obey some sort of normal distribution because of that label.

    No doubt, history is filled with all kinds of evil misogyny, racism, and homophobia...and large swaths of the planet still have those problems, especially in the islamic world. But we lose sight of the truth, that people are individual *actors*, not *objects*, all too often. Fighting the scourges of discrimination of various sorts doesn't lead to some predetermined statistical balance, it gives individual actors the *freedom* to make the choices they'd like. Sometimes, those free choices are lopsided, and that's *okay*.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:04AM (#47781865)

    How do you ensure NPOV, when entire demographic group(s) self-select out?

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:38AM (#47781971)

    Or maybe "pedantic bullshit" is the only way to manage a project like Wikipedia, and choosing not to take part in that also means choosing not to contribute.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:50AM (#47782009) Homepage

    Why must everything be gender balanced? Why not let women do what they want instead of trying to force them in to places that aren't necessarily their thing?

    When a huge chunk of the human race chooses en masse not to participate in something when there's no particular reason they shouldn't - the intelligent person wonders why and tries to correct the problem. Folks like you just ask vapid questions and perpetuate ignorance and bias.

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:50AM (#47782011) Journal
    What should they be doing to "attract women"? For that matter, what are they doing to "attract men"? Could it be perhaps that the nature of encyclopedic editing appeals more to men? No, that'd be too easy and go against what feminists and their cohorts have been beating into me for decades... must continue with forcing "equality" through perverse incentives instead of promoting equal opportunity and cooperation between men and women...
  • by sjwt ( 161428 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @01:51AM (#47782013)

    Excuse me,

    honestly I am not trying to be insulting with the usual 'have you ever been laid' crap that gets thrown around on geek sight because..

    Man? Have you ever dated?? Women are the single most argumentative, must be right, cant change their minds, NEEDS AN APOLOGY EVEN WHEN PROVEN WRONG group out their.

  • by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @02:07AM (#47782061)

    the intelligent person wonders why

    I have no problem with this, it's always helpful to try to figure out how something came to be.

    and tries to correct the problem.

    This can be problematic. We can try to figure out what influences the male muscovy duck to hold the female down and force copulation for example, but why is it a "problem"? and why should it be "fixed"?

    Since when is people choosing what they want a "problem" that deserves "fixing" with indue influence?

    Science is a tool used to try to figure out how things are, it doesn't judge them as morally good or bad.

  • by Fred Mitchell ( 3717323 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @02:11AM (#47782071) Homepage
    There are obvious differences in general in how men and women tend to socialize. We should own up to these differences and stop pretending they do not exist.

    It's not like there is anyone out there telling women that they cannot contribute to Wikipedia or Open Source projects or even Redis. If you want to participate, then just DO it already.

    And so, I find the attempts to "attract women" just so we can continue to hide our heads in the sand about the natural skew of participation due to NO ONE'S FAULT to be a wash.

    I welcome women, of course, but don't believe in these rather condescending "outreach" programs. They always fail because they all are about ignoring the hard realities of human nature.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Friday August 29, 2014 @02:28AM (#47782125) Homepage

    Why must everything be gender balanced?

    Because the "social justice warriors" tell you it must be. And if they don't get their way, they'll whine, cry, and call it rape.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:16AM (#47782279)

    Hi there. 21/F who has contributed to Wikipedia in various ways since high school. I know there's no way to believe that, and the proof of burden relies on me, but I'll just have to ask for your benefit of the doubt.

    The gender gap question is something that always used to pop into my mind while in high school, a time when the media wasn't too concerned about reporting on gender drama and the internet. Now that I'm older, and I've settled the difference within myself and everyone around me, it seems to be the fetishized topic of every formerly apathetic or neutral website I go to.

    I have settled on the fact that it is a combination of mostly nature with a little nurture added in that produces this gap in demography. I think males are more naturally inclined to want to collect facts, devote themselves slavishly to organizing things and work without human interference. That is to say, the quite low incidence of these common traits ['nerdyness'] is lower in females than it is in males, but it's still uncommon across the board.

    This is where the nurture part comes in. Contemporarly American culture seems to be absent of the cultural tropes and stereotypes of a bookwormish, nerdy female -- the kind that would be perfect devoting their time to Wikipedia. I know the cultural trope exists in other cultures like Japan [Sheska from FMA:B, or Princess Jellyfish even? anyone?] in stronger form, and that leads me to think that the already small number of female nerds would be disinclined to practice their dominant mental attribute because they don't see it emulated anywhere around.

    This is also why you'll hear a lot of ranting and raving about women being 40-60% of the gaming population, but events like EVO and Awesome Games Done Quick are still shining sausagefests. Or why women technically use computers as much as men, but FOSS projects are still entirely wholly staffed by males. Few men and even fewer women are inclined to do repetitive, emotionless tasks, and those fewer women who might be inclined to do so are sometimes or usually driven out by either toxic male culture or toxic female culture.

    I dunno. I only got shit for being 'nerdy', playing video games, and loving computers by other women. It's a self-perpetuating culture, and amongst females, the tendency is to seek validation and conformity as opposed to 'going your own way' -- despite what individualist American culture tells us.

  • by thephydes ( 727739 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:50AM (#47782621)
    As a teacher with 35 years under his belt, I posit that men and women are different. In my - admittedly limited and anecdotal, and restricted to younger that 18yrs - experience there is a different communication mindset with girls compared to boys (women compared to men?) . I constantly see girls in groups of 8 or so with often one queen bee, and lots of conversation, whereas boys are generally in smaller groups and are quite happy to insult each other, throw a punch and grunt. Facebook emulates what I see in the yard with girls, Wiki-whatever emulates what I see in the yard with boys. Shoot me down if you feel the need to do so.
  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:02AM (#47782653)

    I mean, face it, men are just more willing to be the trolls and make life miserable for each other.

    WAT?! You ever see what happens when you get a group of women together?

    Sheesh. Asking a slashdotter for his insights about women is like asking a Mormon about his favorite microbrews.

  • by Ellie K ( 1804464 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:03AM (#47782655) Homepage Journal

    I am FeralOink on WP (shhhhhhhhhh ;o) I have Commons open on my adjacent browser tab right now!

    I haven't been run off when editing articles about most topics of interest to me. This is even true for controversial articles e.g. Edward Snowden, AIG, Reptilians, Freedom Fries, cryptocurrency, Ambassador Chris Stevens, David E. Shaw, Codex Alimentarius, MongoDB and brassiere. Some articles are emotionally sensitive to other editors, e.g. Murray Rothbard, Ven currency, so I avoid them. It is easy to discern the situation. I have even made some horrific mistakes, deleting a huge chunk of Gen. Ghaddaffi's article was the worst, yet I was amazed that once I explained and apologized (I had also broken a genuine WP rule), the regulars on the article were very understanding. The only incidents of truly rude encounters and massive reverts of hours of my work has been for female-relevant articles. Both pertained to cunnilingus. I am still seething with irritation at the use of crappy references (Cengage Learning books instead of CDC or reputable websites), bare links, sloppy Google books citation without templates and bizarrely tangential content. Also... well, enough.

    Wikipedia does omit a lot due to male PoV, even if unintentional. Here's an example. John Nash's sister wasn't mentioned at all in his bio, and his pre-university education was incorrectly modernized. Also, his wife is a graduate of MIT, a physics major in the class of 1956 or so. That's when Nash met her. His bio didn't mention that, but instead dwelt on her father "being of Argentine extraction"!

    There are lots of little cliques that I sense, infer, and camaraderie. It would be great to be a part of that.

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:28AM (#47782745) Journal


    I am.

    Have you ever dated??


    Women are the single most argumentative, must be right, cant change their minds, NEEDS AN APOLOGY EVEN WHEN PROVEN WRONG group out their.

    Once you move into the realm of "all women are X" for some attribute like that you're essentially engaging in textbook sexism. All women are not like that. Some are, some aren't. Some men are, some aren't. There are plenty of tales of (male) bosses at work who must always be right no matter what.

  • Re:Obvious Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylikcat ( 1578365 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:39AM (#47783165)

    I'm a woman, I've edited wikipedia. But not frequently.

    If I happen to run across something that I know is incorrect and which I can find the sources for fairly quickly, I probably will again. I do recall another female wikipedia editor, a colleague when I was still in computational biochemistry, who avoided our particular area on wikipedia because she'd gotten tired of the acrimony. (I was really working more on the computational side, where she was a far better biochemist, but she didn't correct mischaracterizations about the feasibility of the work we were doing and had been doing for many years because the people who frequented that area were too "mean". And she wasn't exactly your shrinking violet; more, I think, that it met it less something she was willing to invest time into.)

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:46AM (#47783203)

    Absolute truth. Women as a group tend to be more emotionally mature, and apt to avoid senseless conflict.

    I've been on the board of a non-profit which whose members are predominately women, usually middle aged women. I also run a company where about 3/4 of the employees are women. Furthermore I grew up in a household where I was the only male most of the time. I can assure you that women are as a group absolutely not more (or less) emotionally mature than men and if anything women are more likely to engage in senseless conflict. HOW they fight is very different. More passive-aggressive, backbiting, alliance building, etc. It's like watching some crappy reality vote-the-other-guy-off-the-island show. In some ways women's conflict tactics are even nastier than the ones men typically employ. Guys might actually try to beat the crap out of each other (physically or verbally) but women will try to exile each other from social groups.

    Anyone who thinks women's average level of maturity is higher than men's has either been watching too many sitcoms or never been around actual women for any meaningful period of time. Women tend to react to conflict differently but that doesn't mean they are any more mature about it. Men are no better but they aren't any worse either.

  • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:33AM (#47783463) Homepage
    My theory is they don't go into STEM because of asshats like you. When they do, they go into fields where asshats like you aren't welcome. For example, my workplace has a firm "no asshats" policy, and, guess what, lots of STEM women.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:53AM (#47783543)

    Can anyone tell me why I don't see more articles about the gender gap in elementary eduction? There is a HUGE 87% to 13% gender imbalance there that hasn't changed in decades. And yet I don't ever seem to see any articles about it anywhere. All I see are tons of articles about much smaller imbalances in the STEM fields.

    Someone? Anyone?

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik