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.
Sexism on Wikipedia: Why the #YesAllWomen Edits Matter
New on my blog: the Wikipedia page for #YesAllWomen, a record of an anti-sexism protest movement on Twitter, is being edited to make it “less misandrist.” This Wiki page documents the hashtag that is being used internationally by women to share their experiences of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination following the Isla Vista mass shooting in America.
The Wiki edits matter because Wikipedia has a massive problem with sexism. Only 13% of Wikipedia editors are women and many of them have spoken out about how their entries are often edited by men in malicious ways. Wikipedia sexism is also reflected in the lack of entries on women professionals and historical figures, including women scientists. I supported the Royal Society’s Wikipedia hack-a-thon, which highlighted the lack of Wikipedia articles about notable women scientists (http://goo.gl/5BuQ0E).
The issue with this latest edit is further evidence of so-called “reverse sexism,” which I wrote about recently in reference to the “not all man” defence (http://goo.gl/SH3qMh). Women speaking out about sexism is not an act of sexism. The #YesAllWomen tag is about creating safe spaces for women. The Wikipedia page on this movement documents this global conversation. Acts of gender violence reflect power. Men who are editing this page say they want to use “more neutral” language. In actuality, they are simply defending their own social privilege on a platform that already favours men.
Read more on the research on Wikipedia gender dynamics on my blog: http://buff.ly/1kOfnqw #sociology #feminism #socialscience #wikipedia #women
The Wikipedia page for #YesAllWomen, a record of an anti-sexism online protest movement, is being edited to make it “less misandrist.” This Wiki page documents the Twitter hashtag that is being used internationally by women to share their experiences of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination following the Isla Vista mass shooting in America. Some men are using this tag to listen and support women, but predictably, others are abusing it to hurt women and argue that the hashtag is “sexist against men.” The Wiki edits matter because Wikipedia has a massive problem with sexism. These edits reflect the very issues of gender violence, intimidation and power that the #YesAllWomen hashtag is trying to address. Continue reading Sexism on Wikipedia: Why the #YesAllWomen Edits Matter