Male editors dramatically outnumber female ones on Wikipedia and that could be dramatically influencing the online encyclopedia's content, according to a new study
There was a time when the internet was dominated by men but in recent years that gap has dissolved. ... So what's wrong with Wikipedia? Last year, the New York Times pointed out that women make up just 13 per cent of those who contribute to Wikipedia, despite making up almost half the readers. And a few months ago, a study of these gender differences said they hinted at a culture at Wikipedia that is resistant to female participation.
Today, Pablo Aragon and buddies at the Barcelona Media Foundation in Spain suggest that the problem is seriously influencing Wikipedia's content. These guys have studied the biographies of the best connected individuals on 15 different Wikipedia language sites. They chose the best connected individuals by downloading all the biographies and then constructing a network in which individuals with Wikipedia biographies are nodes. They then drew links between nodes if that person's Wikipedia biography contained a link to another individual.
Finally, they drew up a list of the best connected people.The table above shows the top five for each of the 15 language sites.
... That's a puzzling disparity and one for which Aragon and co point to an obvious possibility--that the gender gap among editors directly leads to the gender gap among best connected individuals.
Of course, that's only speculation but Aragaon and co call it "an intriguing subject for future investigation." We'll be watching to see how that pans out.
In the meantime, the Wikimedia Foundation has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of female contributors to 25 per cent by 2015, a step in the right direction but still an embarrassing blot on the landscape of collaborative endeavour.
In other words, to rectify this disparity, women should do more work for no pay. And, perhaps, invade Poland.