Wiki Gender Gap to Be Discussed in Morgantown

Mar 3, 2015

Credit By File:We_Can_Do_It!.jpg: J. Howard Miller, artist employed by Westinghouse, poster used by the War Production Co-ordinating Committee derivative work: Tom Morris (This file was derived from: We Can Do It!.jpg:) [Public domain] / Wikimedia Commons

Where Are All the Women? Wikipedia’s Gender Gap” That’s the name of a panel discussion that will be hosted at West Virginia University. 


Wikipedia. It’s the free, online encyclopedia that taps into the wellspring of public knowledge; it’s designed to be written and edited … by the public.

“That’s kind of the amazing thing about Wikipedia — it’s the end result of human curiosity,” said Wiki Education Foundation spokesperson Eryk Salvaggio.  

But here’s the thing: 90 percent of contributors to the online encyclopedia are men. That’s according to Salvaggio and several sources. In fact, it’s a well-documented conundrum. 

In a New York Times article last year Kat Stoeffel wrote that “Wikipedia famously bears one of the starkest gender gaps in contemporary culture.”

[Wikipedia] is a lopsided, Axe-scented version of the world, one where Sex and the City has fewer citations than a single character from Grand Theft Auto. - Kat Stoeffel/New York Times

“When mostly men are contributing to Wikipedia,” Salvaggio said, “it tends to make a lot of strong, quality articles on things that men traditionally are interested in. So for example military history is great on Wikipedia.”

But women authors? Female scientists? Biographies? Articles on these subjects are shorter, or altogether absent. 

The problem with this picture is that about 15 million internet users turn to Wikipedia EACH DAY. 450 million users a month. Most assuredly less than 90 percent of them are men. Why such a gap?

“Well you’d have to ask a woman who doesn’t edit Wikipedia,” Salvaggio said.

It’s the million dollar question being discussed this week in Morgantown.

EVENT DETAILS

The free and public event is sponsored by the Reed College of Media, and WVU Libraries.

The panel will discuss what can be done to bridge the gap. Join in the conversation on twitter: #WikiGenderGap  

Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 pm G20 Ming Hsieh Hall, WVU, Morgantown, West Virginia

Panelists:

  • Adeline Koh — Co-founder of The Rewriting Wikipedia Project (@adelinekoh)
  • Jami Mathewson — Educational Partnerships Manager at the Wiki Education Foundation
  • Sydney Poore — Wikipedian-in-Residence at Cochrane Collaboration (@SydneyPoore)
  • Frank Schulenburg — Executive Director of the Wiki Education Foundation (@fschulenburg)