Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Encourage More Women Participation in Wikipedia

As an active female Wikipedian I'm quite aware of the gender differences in editors and contributors - as many Wikipedians are and this was before the studies and the front page of the New York Times. However, it took the study and the NYT to make the rest of the world aware and for Wikipedians to finally decide to take action. A Gendergap mailing list was started for Wikipedians to discuss these issues, led by Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Conversations on the list vary from the gender bias via Wikipedia that take place outside of the US to sexuality articles that are chock full of "pictures of hot chicks" but no men. It's been fascinating, and I'm waiting for the revolution to really heat up - the task forces, the next steps, the outreach. This morning I woke up to a Top 10 list about why more women should participate in Wikipedia by Sandra Ordonez.

Perhaps it will motivate you or someone you know..

1) Improve the quality of information. Information is shaped by perspective, regardless of how NPOV you aim to be, and perspective is shaped by experience. When you experience the world in a certain perspective, you see things that others don't see. A Chinese immigrant in the United States may notice things that a American born may not see, just like it is very likely that a female may notice things their male counterparts don't see.

2) Open doors to more groups. The inclusion of women might have a domino affect, and open doors for other groups, particularly those that are traditionally dis-empowered, such as people of color in the United States. (You can include whatever other group you want here..I can only speak to the US).

3) Improved processes and systems. Collaboration is improved by diversity - everyone in this group (sic: mailing list) knows this. More female participation may result in better collaborative brainstorming and problem solving.

4) Better organization. Studies reveal that women tend to be great multitaskers. IMHO, women are great multitaskers because they also plan their world to be more "efficient" for multitasking. I can totally see a group of women helping improve the organization of Wikipedia's rules, background knowledge, presentation, etc.

5) Stronger community. Reports are also showing that more women than men are on social media. This is because women tend to focus on creating community. A larger, more sophisticated Wikipedian community is so powerful, I'm not even sure how to describe its potential in words. However, it would have the ability to help the projects but bring change worldwide.

6) Better image. Organizations that are ethical are usually favored and respected by society, which increase's an org's success. I am not talking "left vs right," and this is not a philosophical question, it is a public relations one. Talk to any PR practitioner and they can share why this works, and examples of organizations taking this PR strategy. And, at a minimum, I can guarantee it will increase how many women worldwide see the project, which btw are 50% of the world's population.

7) Better parties and possibly more Wikilove! As corny as it sounds, I am quite positive that more women will improve the festivities in any wiki get together, and possibly result in more wikilove :) lolol Why not!! What a perfect place to meet someone that shares your interest, and better parties are usually always welcomed.

8) A better world society. Wikipedia has this ability to affect the world and start revolutions in what seems to be very silent but effective ways. I really believe that the inclusion of women will have amazing revolutionary affects on the world, and make it better. Channeling Jeff Bridges, "information is really power, man." And maybe we have come to take for granted that the world is informed/educated through Wikipedia on a daily basis. This has an effect.

9) It's the right thing to do. Wikipedia has always gone against the grain, even though at times it ruffled society's feathers b/c transparency in knowledge sharing is more important than the agenda of any group. Its part of the free culture movement, dedicated to empowering people worldwide, and has done much in that area. Why wouldn't it come together now to improve on this systematic problem that affects not only the project, but humans at large.

10) Who else is going to do it? No one has the ability to look and tackle this complex issue like Wikipedian community. No other community has the strength in numbers, intellect, and structure to address an issue like this. I guarantee that other groups will embrace any solutions the community finds, b/c its not Wikipedia is not only a pioneer, but its a "best-in-breed" virtual project that comes up with "best-in-breed" solutions.


So there you go! I think it's simply put and rather empowering. But, I've been contributing for years - if I can get a few more women to contribute, I'd be happy.

What are your interests? What do you want to edit in Wikipedia? Have you edited? Do you still?

I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. I hear you! I officially commit to a Wikipedia contribution (well-researched, annotated, sustainability and museum-focused) within four weeks. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. Hi Sarah! Yeah! That rocks. I can't wait to see what you contribute - let me know if I can be of any help to you at all!

    Also check out GLAM - http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/GLAM - it'd be great to share your "green" sustainable museum contributions!