Learning and Evaluation/Inspire Campaigns/Gender gap/Background

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Inspire campaign for gender diversity

Background on the Gender Gap Inspire Campaign

The Wikimedia Foundation funds individuals and organizations to pursue ideas, programs and activities that will further the Wikimedia vision and mission through grant programs run by Community Resources.

Over the last three years, a small but consistent portion of these grants have gone toward ideas that specifically aim to address diversity in our communities and content. One aspect of this is gender diversity. Based on surveys conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation, the vast majority of Wikipedia contributors are men; women are estimated to be between 9% to 16% of contributors across Wikipedia projects[1][2], with very little information about those who identify with other gender identities.

This underrepresentation has consequences. For instance, it affects the scope and quality of content included in our projects and manifests in terms of missing content and documented biases within existing content. A few examples of these biases include:

  • Language dealing with gender, family, and relationship status are more present and substantial in articles about women compared to men. This is especially true in the lead of biographies about women. [3][4]
  • Articles about women are less accessible and visible through search engines, databases, and Wikipedia itself, because there is less metadata about them (such as through infoboxes). Furthermore, even after factoring that there are more articles about men than women, editors are still more likely to link to articles in Wikipedia about men compared to women.[3][4]

Despite recognition of this issue, between 2013 and March 2015, only a small percentage of our funding went towards grants that focus on the gender gap: less than 100,000 USD[5], out of ~12 million USD in grants awarded in the same time period.[6]

To address this problem, we decided to experiment with a proactive grantmaking campaign: the Gender Gap Inspire Campaign.

There were three goals of this campaign:

  1. To experiment with proactive grantmaking and test whether Community Resources could leverage monetary and non-monetary resources to make progress on a sensitive and complex topic, such as gender diversity
  2. To improve and expand individual and collective understanding of the gender gap
  3. To “proactively source and support new projects aimed at increasing gender diversity [on] Wikimedia projects”.[7] Though gender diversity in its broadest sense was the overarching goal of this campaign, we focused uniquely on increasing participation by and content about women. We chose this emphasis because the available research was clearest in indicating significant underrepresentation of women in Wikimedia projects.

Over the one month that this ran (in March 2015), the campaign attracted the attention of the international Wikimedia community[8] and beyond[9][10][11]. It resulted in 266 ideas, 16 of which were ultimately funded through ~120,000 USD.[12][13]

After 1.5 years, 12 of these Gender Gap Inspire grants have submitted their final or interim reports:

Notes & References

  1. Bayer, Tilman. "How many women edit Wikipedia?". Wikimedia Blog. 30 April 2015.
  2. A 2013 study by Benjamin Mako Hill and Aaron Shaw provided evidence that women are less likely to participate in such surveys. They quantified this participation bias for a 2008 user survey, correcting a 13% participation rate by women to 16%. This suggests that the percentages provided by the surveys underestimate actual participation by women, but still confirms that women are substantially underrepresented as Wikipedia contributors.
  3. a b Wagner, Claudia; Graells-Garrido, Eduardo; Garcia, David; & Menczer, Filippo (2016). "Women through the glass ceiling: gender asymmetries in Wikipedia". EPJ Data Science, 5(5).
  4. a b Wagner, Claudia; Garcia, David; Jadidi, Mohsen; & Strohmaier, Markus (2015). arxiv.org. "It's a Man's Wikipedia? Assessing Gender Inequality in an Online Encyclopedia".
  5. This does not include funding that goes toward gender gap initiatives organized by Wikimedia chapters, user groups, and thematic organizations that are funded by the Wikimedia Foundation. We are unable to estimate this amount.
  6. Grants spending analysis for Community Resources
  7. Goals for Inspire Campaign grants
  8. Signpost "News and notes", 2015-05-06.
  9. Paling, Emma. "Wikipedia's Hostility to Women". The Atlantic. 21 October 2015.
  10. MacAulay, Maggie and Visser, Rebecca (2016). "Editing Diversity In: Reading Diversity Discourses on Wikipedia". Ada: 9.
  11. Titlow, John Paul. "Think Wikipedia Is Sexist? They Want To Pay You To Help Change That". 5 March 2015.
  12. Gender gap campaign archive
  13. Grants spending analysis for April - June 2015