AAAI Publications, Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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The Gender Gap in Wikipedia Talk Pages
Benjamin Cabrera, Björn Ross, Marielle Dado, Maritta Heisel

Last modified: 2018-06-15


Wikipedia is an important source of information in today's world. Yet, the lack of gender diversity in its community has been shown to affect the topics covered. Each Wikipedia article has a talk page that volunteer editors use to discuss proposed changes. Research on the gender bias has focused on article contribution and topic coverage, but not talk page activity. It has been suggested that the conflicts that take place in talk pages are especially intimidating for women, but this assertion has not been quantified yet. To fill this gap, we collected a dataset of all comments on Wikipedia talk pages, enriching it with gender information available from users who have chosen to disclose their gender on their user profiles or settings. Among the users active in talk pages, 49,387 indicated that they are male while only 5,996 indicated that they are female. The comments of these users make up for 4 million comments, approximately one quarter of all comments on Wikipedia. In addition, we observed that female participation varies by topic, reflecting traditional gender stereotypes: compared to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics, women were more active in categories such as Gender studies or Feminism. Results also indicate that a post on a talk page is 2.4\% less likely to be replied to if the author is female. Likewise, reply probability varies from topic to topic. These results provide quantitative support for a gender bias in Wikipedia talk pages, and serve as a basis for discussing why overall female participation is low.


wikipedia, gender studies, gender gap

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