Within the last couple of years, a discussion arose concerning the ratio of male to female contributors on Wikipedia. Various studies verified a significant gender gap within the group of editors. A number of countries have since started initiatives that specialize in supporting female contributors. These include events run by female Wikipedians like Netha Hussain in India and Emily Temple Wood in the U.S. These projects work towards increasing the number of women actively participating on Wikimedia projects.
In our recently published study, Charting Diversity, we identified additional instruments and field of actions that could have a positive effect on promoting gender diversity in editors. Two approaches are key: Developing an understanding and awareness on the subject of “diversity” within the community as well as nurturing and enhancing an open and a welcoming culture are highly important. As Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and others said at this year’s Wikimania, the promotion of mutual respect and a positive communication culture are essential for Wikipedia. Another field of action is our research on the connection between diversity and quality of knowledge production. There are still many unanswered questions as to how socio-demographic diversity affects the content of Wikipedia articles.
Charting Diversity deals with diversity and its importance to Wikipedia, documenting our current knowledge on the matter, setting out fields of action and concluding with a catalogue of measures to serve as motivation for our future work. The study incorporates the opinions and ideas of male and female Wikipedians, gathered at numerous meetings, workshops and at the 2013 Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Berlin.
This year Wikimedia Deutschland implemented two tools as a consequence of the study “Charting Diversity,” in collaboration with male and female Wikipedians. One of these is cMOOCs (connectivist Massive Open Online Course) – these are open online workshop-style meetings. Under the title Wiki Dialogue, all Wikipedians and Wikipedia enthusiasts have the opportunity to address problematic issues on cooperation within the community and discuss them in a structured, time-restricted and solution-oriented way. The second tool is topic-specific female multiplier networks, which we are currently setting up. Under the title Women Edit, female Wikipedians can actively take part in projects that motivate targeted participation, while also exploring the Wikipedian communication culture. The first results are the “Women in Science” edit-a-thon and the WikiWomen meetings, as well as other events.
Charting Diversity was created as part of the Wikipedia Diversity project. The project was developed in collaboration with Prof. Ilona Buchem, guest professor in digital media and diversity at the Gender and Technology Center of Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Anyone who wishes to order printed copies in English or German can write to us at email@example.com. The German version can be found here, while the English version is here.
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Julia Kloppenburg (Wikimedia Deutschland)