Wiki Community/Women


Women Community/Women is a page about womens presence in the Davis Wiki community. See also 2005 Wiki Demographics to compare with previous data and [wikipedia]Wiki Project Gender Studies to see what another community has found.

  1. Questions raised about women's presence on the wiki
    1. 1) Is there an issue with the Davis Wiki in regards to how incorporated women are in this community? If yes, why? If no, why not?
    2. 2) Do any women feel that the fact that the majority of the wiki edits are by men has dissuaded them from editing more?
    3. 3) Do any people feel that the majority of the wiki edits, as they are made by users identifying as men, have an effect on the topics and content of the wiki?
    4. 4) How can we get more women to join and contribute to the wiki? (What is the Davis Wiki doing to integrate/not integrate women? What can be done to integrate women more?)
  2. Possible indicators that there is a need for discussion to take place
    1. Number of edits by women
    2. Davis Wiki pages
    3. Number of women in the wiki's IRC
    4. Number of women attending the Wiki BBQ Summer 2007
    5. Reaction(s) towards this page
      1. Negative
      2. Positive
    6. Fresh statistics
  3. Use of Gender Neutral Language
  4. Additional Thoughts

Questions raised about women's presence on the wiki

1) Is there an issue with the Davis Wiki in regards to how incorporated women are in this community? If yes, why? If no, why not?

2) Do any women feel that the fact that the majority of the wiki edits are by men has dissuaded them from editing more?

3) Do any people feel that the majority of the wiki edits, as they are made by users identifying as men, have an effect on the topics and content of the wiki?

4) How can we get more women to join and contribute to the wiki? (What is the Davis Wiki doing to integrate/not integrate women? What can be done to integrate women more?)

Possible indicators that there is a need for discussion to take place

Note: sex/gender was based on same method used in 2005 study. In cases where pronoun was not used, JessicaRockwell almost always assumed female, so these numbers are conflated in favor of there being a larger presence of women than there may truly be. JessicaRockwell encourages more people to analyze the data to control for stereotypes/prejudices/inaccuracies she may have.

Number of edits by women

Davis Wiki pages

Number of women in the wiki's IRC

The IRC is shown to have an effect on the involvement of members in the wiki community. The mentioning of this page in the chatroom has gotten people to discuss this page, both on here and in the chatroom.

Number of women attending the Wiki BBQ Summer 2007

Reaction(s) towards this page

Fresh statistics

Allow me to add some fresh statistics. I just coded the gender of 874 wiki editors who've contributed more than 25 edits. From this group, I subtracted 87 people whose genders aren't obvious from their name, some people who's allegiance is primarily on other wikis, spammers, and the top wiki 15 gnomes because they skew the results dramatically. From the resulting 771 people, I removed those with edit counts more than 4 standard deviations from the mean, leaving 757 total people (235 women=31%)). I then ran a regression analysis to see how #of edits was affected by (1) gender, (2) pages created, (3) files contributed, (4) time between joining and one's last edit, (5) and how gender interacts with each of these variables. According to the analysis (R2 = .60), women and men do not make a different number of edits (p=.35). However women do tend to submit fewer files than men do (p=.03). Gender did not relate to time spent on the wiki or to the frequency of creating pages. These results seem to match intuition, and suggest that, while there are fewer women on the wiki, they do the same things here that men do. Wiki gnomes, as mentioned above, are an exception and I do often wonder if gnomage affects intimidates new users, and women more than men. Oh, an addendum: I looked at the gender of the top 30 users (>340 edits) from Nov. 1st 2005. There was one unknown and 7 females (23%). In the past two years, 38 other people have crossed 340 edit border. 11 are female (29%), 1 is unknown, 26 are male. For gnomes, that's a 6 percent increase in people who have female names or call themselves "she." Especially given the arbitrary 30 edit threshold chosen, a statistical analysis will likely, as Karl notes below, attribute that increase to chance. —CraigBrozinsky

Use of Gender Neutral Language

As a result of this being a large discussion, it has been moved to Wiki Community/Pronouns.

Additional Thoughts


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I want to mention that I, being a male editor, doubled the content for the President Sara Henry article. While I see the statistics listed as interesting I also find it irrelevant. It is seemingly implied that the Davis Wiki must go out of its way to recruit female editors, which I believe is contrary to the idea of anyone being able to freely edit what they want. I also think that any restriction on male editors in favor of advancing female editors is unproductive. This page also implies that there is a male bias in the Davis Wiki which may be true, but one cannot generalize the content of the Wiki, it must be done so in a case by case basis. Even if there is a bias, female editors always have the freedom to add their own biases. I also wouldn't consider the edit numbers to be valuable indicators of how the Davis Wiki is shaped. For example I am the 9th highest editor. —SteveOstrowski

This is a very interesting page, and I find the reactions to this page very instructive. Let me add a few thoughts on this subject. There are multiple factors involved, obviously, from social factors affecting the interests (career and otherwise) of men and women, to the demographics of the population and the users, to the social environment in the Davis Wiki community.

It sounds like the people using the wiki to look up information are evenly split between the genders - so this doesn't appear to be a significant factor. Also, it seems that Craig has offered up some statistics that the number of edits does not vary significantly between the genders on a per-person basis. (In case not everyone is fluent in Statistics, the p=.35 value means that the difference between the number of edits for each gender has a 35% probability of being due to chance alone - not very significant. The p=0.03 means that the difference between the number of files uploaded has a 3% probability of being due to chance - very significant difference!) So we have a difference in the number of people in each gender, and not the amount that they each contribute on the whole.

The wiki format is incredibly easy to learn. That is one of the really great things about it. It could be that some women are intimidated by the concept of web editing, something that they are pushed away from socially, but the ease of wiki editing argues against that. I've had Ariela looking over my shoulder and correcting my wiki formatting code - and she's not very technically inclined to start with!

Instead, I think there are a few things that the Davis Wiki community may be doing that is discouraging women from participating in editing.

Editing/Flame wars have been brought up. Check out which editors are contributing the most to these types of conflicts over content? Are they primarily men? Are these back-and-forth conflicts giving the wrong impression of what the wiki is supposed to be?

Perhaps the content of some of the pages may also be a factor. Let me bring up a page, post-mortem, the ["Abortion Debate"] page. I would like to note that on a page devoted to debating the issues surrounding a procedure performed on women, there were almost always just men commenting on it, myself included. I have heard in reference to that page, very harsh criticisms of the social fact that men feel they have something to say about something they will never directly experience. This was followed sometimes by me being thanked for wading into the muck on that page to defend them.

Another point to consider, is how the wiki was put together. Several of the top editors are close friends, who recruited others, on down until the wiki was well-publicized. Or, perhaps other factors led to an early mostly-men ratio. This could have led to a "frozen accident" - a gender ratio that self-perpetuates. If it seems like it is male-dominated, perhaps that continues to discourage?

No one is arguing that there are physical barriers of any kind to editing the wiki, nor that physical barriers should be imposed in the reverse - comments suggesting either of those are missing the mark. The point is, that social factors are in play, and what can we do about them? Finally, there may also be social factors outside our control, which we may never know about unless someone conducts a study of the population and tries to pin down those factors from that side.

But the question really is, what can be done to make the Davis Wiki community more socially appealing toward women who might be inclined to edit but who are not currently?

I seem to remember some years ago, a big discussion on the wiki about how to get more older folks to contribute to the wiki - to keep it from being student/young adult dominated. I remember that when discussing this issue of appealing to a wider age demographic, people approached it calmly, sanely, and with enthusiasm for making the wiki more inclusive. No one childly accused anyone of trying to institute "age quotas" or "restriction on young editors in favor of advancing old editors" or called anyone a "youth-hater". These kinds of responses further suggest that there is a problem. - KarlMogel

In response to Karl's comment about me not being a tech-savvy person, I'd like for it to go on the record that I am not tech-savvy, not because I am a Woman, no, it is because I am Mexican! Dammnit, get the two right. Hahaha. Anyways, I would like to point out, as someone who has a degree in Sociology, that as people like Covert Professor have pointed out, just the fact that Jessica even asked a friggin' question makes her a "man-hater," and that she is calling for gender quotas (what the f**k?) really elucidates the fact that a lot of people, especially male people, will get very angry, defensive, and downright illogical when you ask a question about certain social phenomenon. It is interesting to note that any effort to equalize a playing field is seen as "affirmative action." Too bad equalizing something makes people so defensive and angry, it just shows how bigoted a lot of us really are. —ArielaHaro

2007-07-09 15:16:35   Interesting thoughts. In my general anecdotal internet expierence the Daviswiki has way more self identified women involved in a high-ish profile way than nearly any other site trying to have a community. I'm surprized that some people seem to have taken this discussion so negatively. —RocksandDirt

2007-07-10 09:41:42   Just as another random note, many edits made are simply comments or minor corrections that are not always major content contributions to the wiki (revert wars and the like as well included). I don't get why there is all this mention of gender quotas, maybe I missed something somewhere but it seems merely a comment made by steve (likely as humor). I would like to think that people are beyond measuring contribution by simple metrics, there shouldn't be some sort of initiative to balance the number of edits based on gender (age, race, or any other factor by which we divide ourselves) but an initiative to increase general community involvement by all the people in davis (sure we can target specific groups, but what benefit does that give?). ~DP —DavidPoole

Can someone explain the crying sexism bit? ~Dave

2007-07-11 13:29:09   I have failed to see callous male chauvinism on this site. I think that trying to split everyone into a binary where none really exists in order to ostensibly remove the gender gap (ie, destroy the binary) is complete nonsense. Note that this is quite different from say slavery, where laws were constructed to apply towards different races. This is simply not the case. There was no issue, in my mind, of any male dominance until I saw this page. Then, thinking it over, there really isn't any overt here. —ChristopherMckenzie

2007-07-11 16:39:00   Perhaps this is related to the economic gap between men and women, and women are less able to afford computers, or have less free time to use on the wiki? In that case, it really wouldn't be Davis Wiki's fault, it would be the fault of our social structures which keep women down. I see the wiki as helping to empower women, as it is a place where every editor is really equal, and we allow everyone to express themselves. —BrentLaabs

2007-07-15 03:06:46   when's the next time the wiki'll be at farmer's market? i'd be down to table. —JessicaRockwell

2007-08-02 13:43:00   Not surprised - women tend to consensus build while men try to shout the loudest. Bet the difference is that women know the wiki is a shouting match more than a consensus build! —phillipnylander

2007-12-07 20:56:21   I don't think you fully "got" Chris' comment. Then again, I'm not sure I did, either. —PhilipNeustrom

2011-07-22 03:16:31   I think it makes sense to mention in various places with lists of names, if there is a gender imbalance. We really should be more aware of how our society encourages it and perpetuates sexism so we can act against that. So its certainly remarkable if the police chiefs are all men or such. —NickSchmalenberger

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