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Feb. 2: Wikipedia's gender gap

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  • 02-02-2011
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IDEA researcher Jan Margolis speaks to NY Times about gender gaps in computer science

Wikipedia has a serious gender gap to overcome, the New York Times reported Sunday.

In Define Gender Gaps? Look up Wikipedia's Contributor List, the Times reported that a mere 13 percent of the hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia contributors are women. The disparity can be seen on the length and breath of entries that could appeal to girls and women versus men.

The Times wrote: "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 on the subject."

Wikipedia has set a goal to increase the number of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015.

IDEA Senior Researcher Jane Margolis said that what is happening at Wikipedia mirrors other environments were women are less likely to assert their opinions. "In almost every space, who are the authorities, the politicians, writers for op-ed pages?" Margolis was quoted.

She advocated recruiting women as groups to fields where they are under-represented so that "...a solitary woman does not face the burden alone."

Margolis studies segregation within learning environments; gender and race socialization in education; and how inequality is produced in our society. She has received several National Science Foundation grants and has built partnerships to address inequities within computer science education. She is the lead auther of two award-winning books: Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing and Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing.

Read NY Times full article.


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