The Gender Divide in Wikipedia: Quantifying and Assessing the Impact of Two Feminist Interventions
forthcoming, Journal of Communication
59 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2021 Last revised: 4 Feb 2022
Date Written: November 28, 2020
Wikipedia has a well-known gender divide affecting its biographical content. This bias not only shapes social perceptions of knowledge, but it can also propagate beyond the platform as its contents are leveraged to correct misinformation, train machine-learning tools, and enhance search engine results. What happens when feminist movements intervene to try to close existing gaps? Through a quantitative analysis of over 11,000 Wikipedia articles, we provide an evaluation of two popular feminist interventions designed to counteract gender inequality within digital information projects. We find that the interventions are successful at adding content about women that would otherwise be missing, but they are less successful at addressing structural biases that limit the visibility of that content. This leads us to argue for a more granular and cumulative analysis of gender gaps in collaborative environments. We also discuss the implications for future scholarship on digital inequalities.
Keywords: gender gaps; information bias; peer production; online activism; knowledge networks
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