Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 415. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: email@example.com Date: 2019-02-03 00:44:25+00:00 From: Kara Kennedy
Subject: RE: [Humanist] 32.409: the question on Wikipedia Hi all, I’d like to introduce the topic of women into this very interesting and insightful conversation about Wikipedia, which has only been alluded to. It is one of the key concerns I have about the site, and as long as Wikipedia retains its dominance, I think it is worth investing time into, despite the other issues the site has. As I see it, Wikipedia suffers from similar problems to the tech industry, namely that it became a ‘boys’ club’ where (often young) men claimed ownership over what they perceived to be their territory and created an increasingly hostile environment for others, including women, to enter, operate in, and remain. Since the Wikipedia administrators are chosen based on their level of contribution, you end up with an administrator class that is also largely male and can help perpetuate the existing culture, which they may have helped form. I have anecdotal evidence of editors starting reversion wars or aggressive debates because they have created a page or performed many edits on it and somehow believe it is ‘theirs’ to control. There are also issues with what content is updated, the lack of articles on women compared to men, what the administrators vote to become featured articles on the home page which get much more visibility, etc. These issues are not necessarily unique to Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, but it reaches millions more people including those who lack access to traditional scholarly sources so the negative impact on women and other marginalized groups is arguably much greater. It becomes a problematic cycle where people think that if it’s not online (i.e. on Wikipedia) it doesn’t exist or isn’t important, and women and other underrepresented groups are not likely to become editors, so the situation is not likely to improve. Research on why women are less likely to contribute shows that it is yet another area of tech they aren’t encouraged in. I tend to agree with the hypothesis of Collier and Bear (2012) in “Conflict, confidence, or criticism: An empirical examination of the gender gap in Wikipedia”, who found that these three ‘C’s’, in addition to a lack of free time to edit, were key issues. I think it is educational institutions’ longstanding reluctance to engage with Wikipedia that has let this situation drag on for so long. High school and university students that I tutor say that they are told not to use it by their teachers (who probably learned that from their teachers), and my explanation to them about the biases and inner workings is new information. Regardless of what we in academia think about the site, it is the go-to source of information for millions who are likely to accept the info at face-value. If every high school and tertiary-level English teacher (and other disciplines as well) taught their students about Wikipedia and had them work on one article (similar to the #1Lib1Ref project), it could be a game-changer. As long as it remains on the margins though, it will remain dominated by the group of administrators and relatively small group of male editors based in the Global North. For more info on this topic, see my conference paper “Why Women Should Be Editing Wikipedia” [https://www.academia.edu/34161403/Why_Women_Should_Be_Editing_Wikipedia] Regards, Kara Kara Kennedy PhD, English University of Canterbury _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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