Submissions/Knowledge, democracy, and the Wikipedian gender gap

From Wikimania

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2017.

Submission no. 2099 - C4
Title of the submission
Knowledge, democracy and the Wikipedian Gender Gap
Type of submission (lecture, panel, tutorial/workshop, roundtable discussion, lightning talk, poster, birds of a feather discussion)
Author of the submission
Steve Jankowski
Language of presentation
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
York University
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (up to 300 words to describe your proposal)

Wikipedia's gender gap can be understood as part of encyclopedism's historical approach to knowledge. This connection has often been overlooked and it is the purpose of this presentation to bring Wikipedia into contact with this context.

Since it was first reported in 2011, Wikipedia has made a concerted effort to address the site's gender gap. Jimmy Wales has said that some of the gender gap issues "can be addressed with a better interface and user experience, but the culture must also change". It is on this second charge that has proven the most difficult. How does one change Wikipedia's culture and know which direction should it occur? To answer this question, a number of studies have both looked at the gendered content of Wikipedia as well as the gendered nature of its collaboration. Additionally it has been argued that the necessary changes may be difficult considering that Wikipedia's policy, software, and logical infrastructures are a major source of disparity. In this study by Ford & Wajcman, the authors argued that while Wikipedia "has inherited some of the biases" from modern encyclopedias, Wikipedia's biases are unique to the project (p.2).

In contrast to these studies, my presentation suggests that if Wikipedia's gender gap is to be reduced, we must consider how these biases have existed historically as part of the culture and design of encyclopedias. Building off of my dissertation research, I argue that general encyclopedias have often rationalized their editorial and design decisions by providing better access, comprehensiveness, authority, and geographic diversity. Unsurprisingly, it is much rarer to see this egalitarian commitment based on gender diversity. In covering some of the Encyclopedia Britannica's historical encounters with women I will illustrate the political background that informs encyclopedism's gendered history.

What will attendees take away from this session?
The goal of this session is encourage discussion about what steps are required to close Wikipedia's gender gap. In particular, it suggests that discussion should revolve around re-conceptualizing how gender and processes of democratizing knowledge interact on the encyclopedia.
Theme of presentation
WikiCulture & Community
For workshops and discussions, what level is the intended audience?
Length of session (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
Is this Submission a Draft or Final?

Interested attendees

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  1. --Nattes à chat (talk) 02:08, 11 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  2. --JGerlach (WMF) (talk) 16:54, 11 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  3. LaMèreVeille (talk) 16:24, 12 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  4. GastelEtzwane (talk) 18:03, 3 May 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Ovedc (talk) 07:20, 4 June 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  6. IsabelDalhousie 17:53, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
  7. Monikasj (talk) 17:55, 21 July 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  8. אומנות (talk) 14:06, 12 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Michelle Boon (talk) 15:14, 12 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  10. -Another Believer (talk) 16:14, 12 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]