Jump to content

Submissions/Understanding gender and skills gaps beyond Wikipedia

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission

Understanding gender and skills gaps beyond Wikipedia

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Authors of the submission

Aaron Shaw, Krystle Chung, and Eszter Hargittai

E-mail addresses




Country of origin


Affiliations, if any (organisation, company etc.)

Northwestern University, wikiHow.com

Personal homepages or blogs


Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Do the widely-noted issues with the gender gap on Wikipedia extend to other open, collaborative communities? What determines whether Internet users participate in wikis?

In this talk, we present work in-progress from a collaborative research project that seeks to differentiate the Wikipedia-specific aspects of participation gaps from aspects that may apply in other communities and among Internet users in general.

The Wikipedia gender gap has inspired an immense amount of research and advocacy work within the Wikimedia movement. However, recent indicators suggest that the gap persists despite these efforts. In addition, the extent and origins of the gender gap remain poorly understood. Comparative research that looks beyond Wikipedia — both to populations of non-editors and to populations of participants on other sites — contributes to a clearer picture of participation gaps and the potential impact of different strategies to overcome them.

In previous work (and Wikimania presentations! [1] and [2]), we have shown that the gender gap in Wikipedia contributions is accompanied by an Internet skills gap that is even more robust and persistent, even among a panel of young adults all of whom have widespread access to the Internet and have completed at least some college. We have also found evidence that suggests greater gender equality among wikiHow editors.

We extend this previous work and report on the results of two novel, original surveys. The first survey, conducted in late 2014, examines a sample of U.S. Internet users age 18 and older. The second (2015) looks at a sample of wikiHow editors. These surveys share many of the exact same questions, making it possible to draw direct comparisons between the respondents. By comparing editors with non-editors, we gain insights into the factors that determine who edits in the first place. Likewise, by comparing editors across communities we shed light on ways in which participation gaps differ.

Our findings suggest that gender is far from the only factor shaping who participates in communities like wikiHow and Wikipedia. In particular, we show that Internet skills help determine who participates and in what ways across both communities. We also find that participants vary greatly across wiki communities, even when the communities use similar software and share ostensibly similar project goals.

  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Almost certainly!
Slides or further information (optional)
Slides (pdf) from the presentation

Special requests

Interested attendees

If you are interested in attending this session, please sign with your username below. This will help reviewers to decide which sessions are of high interest. Sign with a hash and four tildes. (# ~~~~).

  1. mako 04:01, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Sage (Wiki Ed) (talk) 07:07, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 12:52, 28 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 21:15, 1 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  5. --Atropine (talk) 23:31, 7 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 05:03, 26 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Ovedc (talk) 08:50, 12 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Melina Masnatta (WMAR) (talk) 09:41, 14 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  9. MRG90 (talk) 15:39, 18 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]