Recently, the New York Times (see references) ran a piece noting how the Wikimedia Foundation, the group that runs Wikipedia, ran a study recently where they did some metrics on their articles that are posted on the site, and discovered that only 13 percent of the articles are written by women.
13 percent? Can that be right? Why would such a site so heavily used by both halves of our society be updated and maintained on a regular basis by amateurs, be so skewed?
Wikipedia, like Google and Youtube has in a very short time come to be seen by most of us as an icon of our society. If you’re sitting around talking with friends about that one actor in a move, but you can’t remember his name, you first run to Google, to find out the name, then jump to Wiki to get a whole run-down, and then the conversation resumes. It’s like checking your watch to see what time it is; it’s there, you know it’s there even if you don’t think about it, until you want to know something about someone, or something; or really, almost anything. Wikipedia has become our go-to guy.
So, how come it’s a guy? After all, it’s a wide open forum; anyone can post. There’s no ID check at the door or boy’s club holding anyone back. There’s no group of men sitting around choosing this one or that one, or even making judgment. Girls, women, ladies; they’re all just as invited to post about whatever topic suits them as the guys, and yet, they don’t.
The Times articles says that the percentage is about the same for op-ed letters in newspapers or other such public forums, which leads some women, such as Sue Gardner, who just happens to be the executive director of the Wiki Foundation, to say that she believes that women have a natural tendency to feel secure speaking up in small groups, but shy away from public forums; either because they feel they will be unfairly judged or because of insecurity, or in other words, they second guess themselves, and thus don’t want to be out there feeling like they are unworthy. Men on the other hand don’t seem to even see their own qualifications as a factor, they simply see something where they want to add their two cents, and then do so, without another thought about it.
It’s important to note that it’s not an actual difference in skill level postulated here, it’s merely the perception of such that causes the two genders to see things so differently, which winds up being demonstrated in such an odd forum, as Wikipedia.