Methods and limitations
||The focus of qualitative research is on participants’ perceptions and experiences, and the way they make sense of their lives.
Research for this project consisted of individual interviews with 65 Wikimedians who play a prominent role in increasing gender equity in the Wikimedia movement. User:Rosiestep conducted the interviews designed in collaboration with an advisory board. A snowball sampling method was used to select participants -- this means we (WMF staff, Rosiestep and the advisory board) used our networks to identify gender equity leaders in the movement who then referred us to others in their communities. The participants represent a substantial sampling of gender equity leaders in a variety of geographies and languages who are visibly active in more international and meta-level conversations about these issues. We understand this method is not a comprehensive and inclusive approach to understanding gender equity efforts across the movement. We are interested in broadening the scope of understanding and are considering the possibility of a future survey to further expand the breadth of perspectives included.
We then hired a consultant with experience in analyzing large amounts of qualitative data to review the extensive interview notes and audio transcripts. She used multiple validation strategies, as well as code memos and peer debriefing to try and counteract researcher bias.
In reviewing the data, it became clear that there were a number of limitations in the raw data that made it difficult to draw conclusions with certainty across interviews. These limitations include the following:
- Lack of common definitions
- Not all of the questions were answered by every participant
- Ambiguity in how questions were answered
- English-language centric (some interviews were conducted via translator, but the majority were done in English, which was in many cases not the participant's native language)
These limitations impacted what answers could be identified as “statistically significant” (24% or higher) and what is presented in this report.