Measuring the impact of gender diversity efforts is difficult. We can relatively easily track and measure impact in terms of content on the Wikimedia projects, but understanding changes in participation, community health, and the more transformational aspects of this work is a challenge. However, from the data and stories being collected we believe we are making progress.
A number of tools have been created over the last several years to help program leaders track efforts aimed at improving and increasing the number of gender diverse articles. The ability to track page views is especially helpful, as we get a better sense of how relevant and useful the content is. Here are a few examples:
- Women in Red: Since July 2015, editors have created 78,961 articles about women in the English Wikipedia.
- The women you never met: In just one month, 114 editors in the Ibercoop region created or improved 4,680 articles that have been viewed 25.5 million times in the last three months.
- Art+Feminism: Over 4,000 people at more than 275 events around the world participated in Art+Feminism’s fifth annual Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. They created or improved nearly 22,000 articles on Wikipedia, almost four times the output of the 2017 events. These articles have already been viewed 75.5 million times.
Graduates of the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt
Editors on Wikimedia projects are not required to disclose their gender identity, and this anonymity contributes to a sense of safety for many. Even among editors who voluntarily disclose their gender, we have no way of determining whether changes in participation can be attributed to the gender diversity projects conducted across the movement. Nevertheless, we know that there are preliminary indicators that gender diversity is improving, at least on some projects.
Relative to the number of people that do not disclose their gender identity, those who do disclose are a very small group. However, we can still see some trends by tracking changes over time. For example, on the Hebrew Wikipedia in 2011, the percentage of new editors identifying themselves as female was 21%, in 2013 it was 46%, and in 2015 it was 53%. These years coincided with Wikimedia Israel’s outreach efforts around education, GLAM, and the organization of a WikiWomen group. Similarly, Wikimedia Armenia increased their education outreach efforts in 2014, a program that typically includes a high percentage of female students. Since then, the percentage of new editors identifying as female on the Armenian Wikipedia has risen from 36% to 50%.
Offline participation can be tracked more easily, but it takes a lot of effort to understand what happens after an individual participates in a single event. Do they continue to edit on the Wikimedia projects? Do they take on leadership roles in their affiliate? Do they do awareness work to bring in new readers? Do they volunteer in other ways that are not as visible? One promising example of offline participation is the Egyptian education program. In its last term, 90% of the students who participated identified female. Over the years, one program participant has gone on to become an administrator on the Arabic Wikipedia (one of only three female admins) and a group of others have developed into leaders in their community, the international Wikimedia movement, and have served as respected ambassadors outside our movement as they develop partnerships with like-minded organizations.