Gender gap strategy 2013

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Core Issue[edit]

The founding vision of Wikipedia was that the collective knowledge of the world is greater than any of its parts. Diverse and many contributors are needed to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles and Wikimedia content.

Increasing the direct participation of women can help address issues of systemic gender bias that appear in coverage of topics, types of articles, and quality of articles.

A strategic approach to improving diversity and engaging women can support practices and initiatives designed around clearly articulated evidence as to why diversity matters and what people can do on a short-term, medium-term, and longer-term time horizon.

The intention of this page is to help begin a more strategic conversation about the gender gap by documenting a meeting that was held in July 2013 and using this discussion as a springboard to growing open conversations with the wider community.


On 1 July 2013, a small gathering of Wikimedians (WMF staff and volunteers interested in gender gap issues) met in San Francisco to discuss the gender gap and what we might do to forward strategic conversations and activities over the coming year.

Why did we meet?[edit]

We started with a small group of people, easily brought together, as a spark for beginning a wider set of movement-wide conversations.

We wanted to:

  1. Take stock of the landscape – look at the current state of the gap, what's been done so far, and build shared understanding of what worked & what didn't work.
  2. Brainstorm new ideas – consider what projects, pilots, or initiatives could be experimented with in the future
  3. Plan for the coming year – begin to develop some actions, next steps, and a timeline for the coming year.

What did we do?[edit]

We started with 3 initial questions:

  1. What do we already know about Wikimedia gender gap in terms of context, history, and strategies to-date?
  2. What wild ideas do we have for strategizing about and piloting methods to address the gender gap?
  3. What might we do during the coming year to move the strategic conversation forward, engage stakeholders across the movement, and pilot/support/expand projects aimed at addressing the gap?
  • We began the day doing a mapping of different actions taken in the past few years around challenging the gender gap.
  • We did a preliminary analysis of the overall context of the work: trends we see around women’s engagement in our movement, socio-political factors that affect this work, and the on-wiki climate and technological factors that might lead to lower participation by female contributors. *We then brainstormed some ideas for challenging the gender gap, that included better language around framing the issue, allies and partners we might work with, strategies we could use (online and offline) and resources that may be needed.
  • We finally tried to narrow down a set of ideas and actions that we think could be implemented over the course of this year (July 2013-June 2014).

What's next and how can you get involved?[edit]

Many Wikimedians have been thinking about these issues (and working on them) for a very long time. We would like YOUR ideas and strategies represented in this document as it expands for greater discussion across the wider community.

  • What's missing?
  • What do you agree with?
  • What ideas and strategies would you prioritize for the next 6 or 12 months?

A good reference for thinking about this might be: What are relatively easy things to do that will help gain momentum and build a strong foundation for more gender gap work in 2014-15?

Please make copious use of the talk page as well as adding your thoughts to the ideas on this page! The hope is to collaboratively develop this document as an additional launching pad for a movement-wide conversation around the gender gap, that will help us pilot more actions, spark further ideas, and build for a more diverse future of Wikimedia.


July 2013[edit]

Participants of Gender Gap Strategic Day
  • Asaf Bartov
  • Siko Bouterse
  • Sue Gardner
  • Abby Goldberg
  • Anna Lantz
  • Ryan Kaldari
  • Sydney Poore
  • Anasuya Sengupta
  • Alolita Sharma
  • Sarah Stierch
  • Adele Vrana
  • Heather Walls
  • Jessie Wild
  • Gayle Karen Young

August 2013 and beyond[edit]

  • Add your name here!

Strategic mapping[edit]

What do we already know about Wikimedia gender gap in terms of context, history, and strategies to-date?

Context mapping during the session

Initiatives to-date[edit]

This is a list of initiatives and some sense of number of participants.

How success has/could be measured[edit]

Setting reasonable, achievable, measurable goals is important. Potential criteria to consider:

  • Quality of content - improving content, decreasing
  • Participation (editors)
  • Female editors experience
  • Retention
  • Movement Leadership (Online/Offline)
  • Diversity
  • Calls to action
  • Decrease of systemic bias (names, images, articles)

Some things that have worked[edit]

  • Media conversation starters (ex. NYT article) - while controversial, they started conversations and created publicity around the issue.
  • Online, P2P Support spaces with invitation (Teahouse)
  • Global Education has lots of female students, though they aren't retained beyond the semester
  • Normalized WikiWomen's History Month – has become a part of the Wikimedia culture, year over year event
  • Targeting specific populations - on-wiki recruiting is valuable, getting active Wikipedians involved
  • Contests
  • Power of invitation
  • Lists of articles to be worked on for multiple Wikipedias
  • Making paths clear to lists
  • Working on new articles/smaller articles/starting in less contentious spaces or activities
  • WikiWomen's Collaborative increase sense of confidence, support, visibility of women
  • GLAM, Wiki Loves Arts, etc bring in women

Some things that haven't worked or don't yet exist[edit]

  • Anything at meaningful large scale
  • One-time events, edit-a-thons to recruit new editors...generally only 5-30 people come, they don't scale very well and few new women are retained after the event.
  • Mentoring systems mostly don't exist
  • WWC supports women already editing to deepen their involvement, but hasn’t brought in many new editors
  • Broad based outreach is not working - getting new women motivated is easy, but moving from excitement to editing is hard
  • Expecting activities to do more than they were designed to do - ie, if your edit-a-thon isn't designed to retain people over time, that's ok, but call it one-time-content creation focused then
  • Closing context gap between women - connecting women inside/outside the movement
  • 0.6% of grants have gone to gender gap related proposals
  • Community ambivalence – not a concrete shared understanding that the gender gap issue is important
  • Leadership of women isn't always visible in community
  • Gender gap hasn't been present in grantmaking criteria
  • Supporting women against burnout – we don't do enough of it
  • Cannot challenge the gap without the existing community
  • Learning from others – more shared learning is needed, within and also with other movements

Best-practices going across ideas/actions[edit]

  • Think both inside/outside the movement
  • Multi-prong strategies
  • Make paths clear, eg with lists etc, for existing people to get involved
  • Integrate into culture
  • Long tail inclusiveness
  • Frame gender gap as an issue of quality, with concrete examples
  • Understanding systemic bias with stats

Ideas: Frontrunners[edit]

SWOT board from the session

A brainstorm of many ideas, big and small, aimed at the gender gap is listed in the following section.

A few ideas that have risen to the top of brainstorming so far are offered here for further discussion, along with some notes from a quick SWOT analysis. As new ideas from the brainstorm pool gain momentum, please add them to this frontrunners section.

What can we do during the coming year to move the strategic conversation forward, engage stakeholders across the movement, and pilot/support/expand projects aimed at addressing the gap?

1. Framing the issue[edit]


Create a vision statement and clear framing of the issue, including:

  • succinct statement of the issue and why it matters
  • theory of change
  • toolkits / resources
  • examples/success stories

This could take the form of an improved Gender Gap or Diversity page on meta-wiki.


Wikimedia Community, WMF, Allies


  • shared vocabulary
  • can internationalize
  • anchor for media attention
  • clarity of concept
  • no murk/surprises


  • consensus could take forever / exhaustion from discussion
  • things could be lost in translation / cultural differences
  • may end up with something either too broad or too specific


2. Cross-wiki coverage tracking[edit]

A cross-wiki coverage & tracking tool to help keep track of quality coverage of various topics.


Wiki-hackers, Wikimedia Community


  • Set achievable goals
  • Visibly Tracked
  • Healthy Competition - Wiki Comparison


  • Could breed unhealthy competition
  • How would it be made, promoted, and setup to be newbie-friendly?

3. Toolkits[edit]

Tools for different audiences to talk about or engage with the gender gap. Might include:

  • lists of articles
  • talking points
  • how tos for editing, throwing a wikiparty, etc
  • role model features


  • Communications team
  • Outreach wiki folks (GLAM...)
  • Usability folks


  • customized for awesome audiences
  • sustainability, can be reused
  • multilingual


  • needs insider/outsider perspective to be build for usability, can’t be solely created for Wikimedians for Wikimedians


4. Conferences[edit]

2 conferences in November could further strategic movement conversations about the gender gap, and lead to new projects and plans of action:


  • WMDE and other chapters
  • Tech community
  • editors
  • activists and academics


November 2013


  • increase awareness, education, alliances
  • piggyback on existing plans, not too difficult to support via existing channels
  • expanding constituencies and conversations


  • capacity - organizing takes time
  • expensive
  • could be all talk and lead to no action, in which case return on investment is poor


5. Context Research[edit]

Context research to understand what has been done as well as what has worked. This would entail both (1) research analysis and (2) case studies to identify the baselines of the gender gap as well as the positive examples of things being done thus far. We need this information to inform our gender gap strategy.


  • External research partners
  • Wikimedia Research community
  • WMF
  • Community


  • Facilitate outreach
  • Create talking points and cases for momentum towards redressing the gender gap
  • Develop research partners
  • Combine with RFP to gather different case studies


  • Capacity
  • No direct impact if does not lead to action


6. User group[edit]

Develop a formal user group combining all the allies working to redress the gender gap. This would create a cohesive group behind the topic, propel women to the forefront of leadership, and provide a means of receiving funding for future initiatives.


Wiki Women, WMF, Community, WikiProjects, allies


  • Strengthen community
  • Momentum as we enter the next strategic planning phase
  • Unified groups to run specific programs (e.g., RFP, Translation, Focus groups, travel, literature/music, local activists)


  • Needs support and capacity


7. Grants RfP[edit]

A gender gap request for proposals drive to bring in new projects for funding could include:

  • IdeaLab creation drive
  • RfPs for Wikimedia Grantmaking programs


Wikimedia chapters and individuals, WMF grantmaking team, potential allied organizations


  • incentivize and recognize efforts
  • innovate and make time to work on projects
  • elevate the issue


  • Capacity
  • Committee bias - just because we source more project ideas doesn’t mean committees will fund
  • Could source only bad ideas, or good ideas w/o feasible strategies
  • Could be flooded with proposals (would be a nice problem to have though!)


  • I am planning for increased capacity in my team to help execute on this in 2014/15. Thinking to call them "Inspire Grants," 1 campaign per year should focus on gender gap, and we can run them from IdeaLab. Siko (WMF) (talk) 18:27, 14 March 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

8. WikiWomen’s March[edit]

A campaign during the month of March (international Women’s day, Women’s History Month) with 3 components:

  • outreach to media outlets and partner organizations: calls to action to raise awareness and increase editing during the month of March
  • toolkits: how-tos for participants to get involved, throw wikiparties and wikilounges, etc
  • WikiWomen’s Collaborative: online social support for editors


Wikimedians already involved in WikiWomen’s History Month, media, organizations, GLAMs


  • leverage existing momentum in academia, activism, Wikimedia movement
  • broaden alliances
  • provides a focused use-case for toolkit creation


  • lack of coordination
  • need to prioritize stakeholders
  • capacity to plan and execute
  • media coverage could have negative spin


Brainstorm of ideas[edit]

What wild ideas do we have for strategizing about and piloting methods to address the gender gap?

Brainstorm session notes

This space is for blue-sky thinking about any and all things that might be tried to address the gender gap. Be bold and add your ideas below!


  • Clear goals/strategy so more people can contribute + engage effectively/efficiently
  • Contributor pipeline
  • Talking points for all gender and allies
  • Framing our argument better: talking points + examples
  • Clear + achievable goals + publicize them
  • Develop a clear + credible Theory of Change (why women editing matters + how it will be improved), and share with editors how and why they can help
  • Printed material with the above points made, easily translated, as part of the Bookshelf
  • Add your idea here!


  • Partnership with existing women’s group to act as multipliers
  • Engage open knowledge communities & players (internet activity, etc).
  • More women Wikipedian bloggers (Press contact list)
  • Connect with other “open” communities - what are they doing + how can we work together (CC + OKFN)
  • Reach out to AWID’S membership with simple how-to for basic content on women’s organizations and issues
  • Focused interventions with women journalists/communications folks
  • Build more internal community at WMF
  • Work with women journalists at the UN / Committee on Status of Women
  • W-in-R with feminist archives/histories; wikisource
  • Tables at conferences...and wikilounges (mechanism + kit for self-starters)
  • Explore ways to get chapters to become allies
  • Growing mentorship network + specific calls for action with allies
  • Something with Google (not just read only)
  • WP Zero
  • Wiki Loves Literature
  • Wiki Loves Women - local community heroes
  • Wiki Parties
  • Allies workshop for Wikimedians
  • Be a mentor help women/new editors newbies
  • Women’s photographer contest
  • Multi-session courses for content-focused groups, focusing on successful engagement with ENWP.
  • Wiki Loves Music - Competitions (incentivize new and existing editors)
  • Develop more spokeswomen
  • Ongoing/increasing opportunities for engagement of women and male allies
  • Adopt Article 17 of the EU's Istanbul Convention (see also idea for 'gender stereotyping' template)
  • Adopt chapter 1.A.B.(vv) page 13 of the report by UN's Commission on the Status of Women 57th session (CSW57) - report's theme: 'The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls' (see also idea for 'gender stereotyping' template)
  • Find out what are the information needs of women who are parenting. Might be child health information, a children's encyclopedia, appropriate coverage of childrens' literature, movies, and television, partnering with K-12 schools/school libraries for content creation or information literacy programming, joint editing events for family members / parent and child, or something else altogether. Without surveying this group, we can't know what speaks to their priorities.
  • Add your idea here!


  • Prizes or money
  • How to wikiparty / tupperware kits
  • IdeaLab Gender Gap – idea creation drive
  • Gender Gap Grants
  • More swag
  • Regular online courses - women led - on Wikipedia, Mediawiki, Commons, etc
  • Targeted grants campaigns tackling gender gap
  • Call for grant proposals
  • Gender Gap Task Force (staffing @ WMF?)
  • Better meta page
  • Better kits + how tos on having edit-a-thons, contests, outreach, editing, etc
  • Fund wikipedians to create and promote opportunities to improve WP’s average of women ( e.g. women’s history month, lists of women chemists, etc)
  • WMF Gender Gap interns
  • Send Wikipedians to tech/blogging events (Blog Her, etc)
  • Leadership development work for women and allies
  • Incentivize women leadership with and in community
  • Wikimedia Foundation wants more women in Engineering (help make this happen)
  • The creation of a 'gender-gap' template similar to these or these for article(s) to signify that it is a work in progress
  • The creation of a 'gender-stereotyping' article rating template "This article has a gender-stereotyping rating of '#' which means it is regarded as contributing to violence to women and girls. See here for further details." This should be combined with a link to Wikipedia's views on Article 17 of the EU's Istanbul Convention and chapter 1.A.B.(vv) page 13 of the report by UN's Commission on the Status of Women 57th session (CSW57)
  • Wikipedia T-shirts with logo placement suitable for larger women (back of shirt, above or below chest)
  • Smaller, laptop- and handbag-sized versions of Wikipedia messenger bag
  • Wikipedia logo patterned black-and-white silk scarf for business wear
  • Add your idea here!

Awareness and Communication[edit]

  • Track + publicize progress/results
  • Famous People - get them to edit
  • Support reporting of non-white-man topics in media
  • Real commercial ads
  • Marketing campaign to bring in women editors
  • organize monthly blog post
  • Wikiwomen's Collab (Multilingual) - Sustainability/Growth project
  • find outside funding for research on women and diversity in Wikimedia
  • create media storm we’re prepared to harness with calls to action and editing tools
  • more wikimedia gatherings and women focused to women engineers, open source women, drinks and talks
  • research success and failure
  • partnerships - world groups and WP zero
  • Engage media and marketing
  • develop clear framing - gender gap mission statement
  • community policy taskforce
  • “offer me work” extension - tech implementation of invitation effect
  • work with media to expose systemic bias and agitate for change
  • devote institutional attention to partnerships with free/open partners
  • easier translation - awareness
  • program evaluation and data collecting and analysis of “gender gap” programs (ie what makes the most impact)
  • wikimedia diversity/global south conferences
  • Add your idea here!


  • Data - put out metrics on increasing quality of articles due to participation
  • gender gap specific program evaluation and metrics
  • ask women what could get them involved
  • better understanding of where we lose women in the pipeline
  • deep research outside of things that work
  • case studies from other online communities and women’s participation
  • collate current research on gender gap and women/tech
  • look for successful examples of language/project communities and recognize/learn from
  • Add your idea here!

Spaces of Engagement (programs, projects, languages... )[edit]

  • Wikipedia in middle and high schools mentor and reach out to girls
  • work with universities/ gender studies programs
  • lead by example reach out to 5 women you know and help them learn and edit
  • contribuntion drivers for non-article writing - growing, vandal fighting, DR, DAB - and develop tools to make it fun (i.e. DAB solver)
  • wikiwomen’s history month contest
  • radically expand the global education program - hundreds of countries, thousands of participating classes
  • get wiki-columns on websites like Jezabel, Huffpost, etc
  • global south (nov india) gender gap meeting (tie to hackathon)
  • wiki diversity competence (join WMDE in partnership)
  • wikivoyage - PR people, women's travel
  • wikisource - libraries, archivists
  • identify local sources on entry
  • Drives for - more DYKS? FA? GA? (women’s diverse content etc)
  • connect with other global campaigns - especially around women (16 days of activism - Girl’s Rising) (UN/lean in/WSF/Migrant mothers/indigenous people)
  • Add your idea here!


  • “friendly” space policies for all
  • kick out creeps
  • extension delivering articles to work on based on preferences i.e. skill and topic matrix
  • easier translation opportunities - it can be easier
  • work with all women - those who edit, those who don’t, those who quit
how to work with women who don't edit but "read" Wikipedia and want to promote other women to edit it despite not editing themselves (yet)
  • find engineering efforts to increase usability
  • wiki rule initiative
  • make an “official” user group supporting decreasing gender gap
  • learn about english WP policies what works, what doesn’t a video/tutorial
  • mature and guide women movements and conversations within WP
  • multilingual
  • easier mobile and tablet editing
  • mobile engagement strategies
  • pilot/data/study on canvassing (to ground RFC)
  • purposeful canvassing (group?) - can start w/”canvassing” rfc)
  • "Playboy is feminist, look at all the money she earns!" - how do we tackle these contributors who call themselves feminists (sex-positive feminists)
  • Add your idea here!

Short Term Strategy / Next Steps[edit]

  • Share this page with others – add your thoughts, build the conversation.
  • Expand the conversation further at Wikimedia Diversity conference in Berlin in November, and potentially an early 2014 event in India as well.

See also[edit]