Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Women Don't Write for Wikipedia, etc.

Last week's assignment on the Digital Divide focused on exploring alternative search engines by entering the same search term in each.  One student, using the search term  digital divide gender  at the social bookmarking site uncovered a Jan. 31, 2011 New York Times article "Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions."  The article reported that less than 15% of the contributors to Wikipedia are women and explored possible explanations.  The author interviewed Jane Margolis (who has done wonderful work on institutional sexism and racism in computer science classes) who opined that women are less willing to assert their opinions in public. 

Little mention was made of WHY women might be less willing to assert their opinions in public.  The cartoonist Gabby fills in some of these blanks.  In the excerpt below from Gabby's much longer cartoon, we see the all-too-common reaction women experience when they do assert their opinions in a male dominated blogosphere.

See also the post "I’m a woman, and I’ve edited Wikipedia" on the Geek Feminism blog of 2/11/11 and the many comments by women who formerly contributed to Wikipedia but left in response to what they perceived as an unwelcoming environment.

A full size wall poster of Gabby's entire cartoon (6.75″ wide by 43″ long on rich matte cardstock) can be ordered here.  Gabby's comic books (written under the name Ken Dahl) can be purchased from Microcosm Publishing.

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