Wikipedia and Gender Inequality

A Black woman, Wjhite woman, Asian woman and White man are reading their phones

I was interviewed by LiveScience about how sexism on Wikipedia connects with broader issues of sexism in science and technology.

Less than 10% of Wikipedia’s editors are women and yet Wikipedia is the world’s sixth most-frequently visited website. Here’s the part featuring what I said:

“Men want to shape the type of discussions that we want to have about technology, and then women’s concerns become drowned out by the idea that it’s not important,” said Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist and head of Social Science Insights in Australia, who has written about Wikipedia and gender in the past.

Zevallos pointed to a current online controversy called Gamergate, which began when the ex-boyfriend of a video game developer claimed that she had a romantic relationship with a video game journalist. On Twitter and other sites, the conflict quickly turned complicated and ugly, with death and rape threats leveled at female game developers and journalists…

“There is an overly aggressive editing of women’s pages,” Zevallos said, referring to pages that deal with issues of interest to women. Even the Wikipedia page for the word “woman” itself has a history of controversial edits and far more conflict on its “talk” page, where editors discuss changes, than the Wikipedia article on the word “man.” Debates range from arguments over bias and feminism to the appropriate weight for women pictured as representative illustrations in the article.

“Women just get tired,” Zevallos said.

Read the rest:  

3 thoughts on “Wikipedia and Gender Inequality

  1. Hi Polaron Wikipedia’s policies need to change, to address aggressive over-policing of women’s pages, with stronger moderation of contentious pages by people trained on gender diversity and inclusion. More generally, programs like the Royal Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Science which establish “edit-at-thons” also help. They organise a day where groups of women can come together to edit pages, with hands-on help by trained editors and with support from Wikipedia staff. More general drives to get women experts to write on Wikipedia would help, especially if women see that Wikipedia are serious about eradicating sexism.


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