Mon 31st January 2011, 6:35am
QUOTE(Newsfeed @ Sun 30th January 2011, 9:06pm)
Wikipedia tries to lessen gender gap on siteSt. Louis Post-Dispatch
In 10 short years, Wikipedia has accomplished some remarkable goals. More than 3.5 million articles in English? Done. More than 250 different languages? ...and more »View the article
Here comes the bullshit, boys and .... girls.
Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of women contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is male-dominated and not friendly to women.
Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says.
“This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Gardner said in interview Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.”
“Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table,” she said. “If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.”
With so many subjects represented — most everything has an article on Wikipedia — the gender disparity often shows up in terms of emphasis. A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.
Even the most famous fashion designers — Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo — get but a handful of paragraphs. And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on “Sex and the City” includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; The one on “The Sopranos” includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode.
Is a category with five Mexican feminist writers impressive, or embarrassing when compared with the 45 articles on characters in “The Simpsons”?
Whereas, in the chemistry and math articles, the womyns are in there slugging it out 50:50. Not. Yeah, let's try to compare one pop culture idea to another. And then let's try for some misdirection at the end.
Gardner, citing an example that resonates with her personally, pointed to the Wikipedia entry for one of her favorite authors, Pat Barker, which was a mere three paragraphs when she came across it. Barker is an acclaimed writer of psychologically nuanced novels, many set during World War I. She is 67 and lives in England.
By contrast, Niko Bellic had an article about five times as long as Barker’s at the time. It’s a question of demographics: Bellic is a character in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV; he is 30 and a former soldier. The public is increasingly going to Wikipedia as a research source: According to a recent Pew survey, the percentage of all American adults who use the site to look for information increased to 42 percent in May 2010, from 25 percent in February 2007. This translates to 53 percent of adults who regularly use the Internet.
There we go. Gardner manages to name the one article on Wikipedia-- the ONLY article--- that she personally has substantially improved in her 4 years of editing. At 2 edits/week, it's the only one she's had enough edits to improve.
Jane Margolis, co-author of a book on sexism in computer science, “Unlocking the Clubhouse,” argues that Wikipedia is experiencing the same problems of the offline world, where women are less willing to assert their opinions in public. “In almost every space, who are the authorities, the politicians, writers for op-ed pages?” said Margolis, a senior researcher at the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California, Los Angeles.
According to the OpEd Project, an organization based in New York that monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to “public thought-leadership forums,” a participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common — whether members of Congress, or writers on The New York Times and Washington Post Op-Ed pages.
It would seem to be an irony that Wikipedia, where the amateur contributor is celebrated, is experiencing the same problem as forums that require expertise. But Catherine Orenstein, the founder and director of the OpEd Project, said many women lack the confidence to put forth their views. “When you are a minority voice, you begin to doubt your own competencies,” she said.
She said her group has persuaded women to express themselves by urging them to shift the focus “away from oneself — ‘do I know enough, am I bragging?’ — and turn the focus outward, thinking about the value of your knowledge.”
Margolis said she was an advocate of recruiting women as a group to fields or forums where they are under-represented. That way, a solitary woman does not face the burden alone.
But Ms. Margolis: on the internet, nobody knows what sex you are, unless you tell them. And here you are, telling us that anonymous women are intimidated into not participating on WP. Riiiight.
Has it not occured to you that the atmosphere of WP is toxic to women, and that this is true even if they can wear a mask and not be known as female? Hmmm?
And now for the lawyerly piece of misdirection. In a style that Jimbo and Godwin would be proud of, Gardner uses her single WP accomplishment to imply and suggest (without actually claiming it) that she's fighting the good fight, all alone, making substantial improvements all by her lonesome XX self:
Gardner said that for now she is trying to use subtle persuasion and outreach through her foundation to welcome all newcomers to Wikipedia, rather than advocate for women-specific remedies like recruitment or quotas. “Gender is a huge hot-button issue for lots of people who feel strongly about it,” she said. “I am not interested in triggering those strong feelings.”
Kat Walsh, a policy analyst and longtime Wikipedia contributor who was elected to the Wikimedia board, agreed that indirect initiatives would cause less unease in the Wikipedia community than more overt efforts.But she acknowledged the hurdles: “The big problem is that the current Wikipedia community is what came about by letting things develop naturally — trying to influence it in another direction is no longer the easiest path, and requires conscious effort to change.”
Sometimes, conscious effort works. After seeing the short entry on Barker, Gardner added a substantial amount of background. During the same time, Niko Bellic’s page has grown by only a few sentences.
Gardner, you're a goddamned deceptive corporate lackie marshmellow. If you think you can really change the world one lie at a time, then you and your fellow "feminists" still have a LOT of lessons to go.