New York Times exposes Wikipedia's gender gap

Who's afraid of Wikipedia? According to the New York Times, women are.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely thirteen-percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-twenties, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University.

Because I know you're wondering, United Nations University is in Tokyo and has a killer football team. Anyway, Wikimedia is striving to close the gender gap. “Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table,” said Executive Director Sue Gardner. “If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.”

So which crumbs are missing? Examples trotted out include an entry for a noted female British author, which was five times shorter than the entry for a fictional man from the video game Grand Theft Auto IV; episode summaries for Sex and the City, which are less comprehensive that those of The Sopranos; and "friendship bracelet," which has fewer paragraphs than "baseball card." 

The prevailing wisdom is that "Wikipedia is experiencing the same problems of the offline world, where women are less willing to assert their opinions in public." So ladies, stop weaving that friendship bracelet and start contributing to Wikipedia. The internet needs you.

Commentarium (10 Comments)

Jan 31 11 - 12:21pm
Moops

Women are less willing to assert their opinions? Really? I've never known women to be reticent about their opinions. And if they were, so what? It's their own responsibility.

Jan 31 11 - 12:31pm
Nick

Agreed, I'm not sure what kind of women you hang out with Ray, but the ones I know do not fit the stereotype of the meek woman afraid to share her opinions of the 1950's

Jan 31 11 - 2:05pm
teh

The strange priorities of the wikipedia userbase has been noted for a while. There a game called wikigroaning where you contrast two articles, one on something relevant, and one on something nerdy and inconsequential, but with far more information written. http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/wikigroaning.php

Jan 31 11 - 3:10pm
el

Probably because women don't give a fuck about friendship bracelets past the age of 13, but grown men still care about baseball cards.

Jan 31 11 - 7:40pm
WeeKee

13% women isn't enough - what % would be enough? What should be the average age of Wiki contributors, and how do they know the contributors' ages and genders in the first place?

Jan 31 11 - 10:56pm
RM

Who the hell has time to write up crap for Wikipedia? I'm busy bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. If I had time to write, I'd be writing the great American novel.

Feb 03 11 - 12:14pm
thinkywritey

In my experience, women are less interested in "being right." This is why we don't "assert."

Feb 21 11 - 3:07am
Feminista

Several years ago I tried to write an entry for Wikipedia and found it immediately deleted by the mods who later explained all sorts of various rules that hadn't been posted anywhere that a newbie could see. I later tried to conform to the rules only to find what I wrote deleted over and over again. A female mod tried to defend what I had written, but at that point it was too late. It had already become obvious to me that it was a circle jerk of men on there and I didn't bother with posting anymore. If other women have had the same experience I had, there's your answer why no women are writing for Wikipedia.

Jun 15 11 - 9:18pm
han

I'm with el. LOL

Aug 25 11 - 5:49pm
erin

I know someone who edits, or used to edit, on wikipedia. I believe he was a super editor, or a grand poobah editor, or something: he contributed a large amount of content. Nice guy, fun to talk to, knew a lot about a lot and loved to research. Um, he also liked to spend a lot, a LOT, of time alone, at home, in front of his computer. I kind of get the feeling that a lot of wiki editors match that profile, which is similar to the guy. I know quite a few guys who live like that, and no girls who do. Now, 'people I know,' is not a big enough sample, sure: but what's the research on the gendering of this behavior? Do I just know more active women? Do women disproportionately have more demands on their time? Or is there something about men that makes them more likely than women to cave dwell, and if yes, why?