Behind Wikipedia's Millions of Articles: Mostly Men

Just 13% of its contributors are woman; it wants to boost that to 25%
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2011 12:06 PM CST
Behind Wikipedia's Millions of Articles: Mostly Men

Wikipedia is one of the Internet's biggest success stories, with more than 3.5 million articles in English, and millions more in some 250 languages. The one thing it seems to be missing? Women. A study by the Wikimedia Foundation discovered that just 13% of the online encyclopedia's contributors are women—and it wants to boost that number to 25% by 2015. But Wikipedia is running into a few barriers in its quest to do so, such as the fact that the computer world tends to be male-dominated, reports the New York Times.

The Times notes that the disproportion is noticeable: Topics generally associated with women, like friendship bracelets or Jimmy Choo, are only a few paragraphs long, while ones on, say, toy soldiers are quite long. Even the entry for Sex and the City is nowhere near as thorough as that of The Sopranos. " The big problem is that the current Wikipedia community is what came about by letting things develop naturally—trying to influence it in another direction is no longer the easiest path, and requires conscious effort to change," observes one Wikimedia board member. So for now, Wikimedia is concentrating on boosting female participation through outreach efforts, rather than by emphasizing quotas or recruitment tactics. (Read more Wikipedia stories.)

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