Research: Closing Wikipedia’s Gender Gap(s)?

August 10, 2022

Quantifying and Assessing the Impact of Two Feminist Interventions

Recent research from Isabelle Langrock and Sandra González-Bailón at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania evaluates the work of Art+Feminism and another feminist edit-a-thon, 500 Women Scientists, in closing Wikipedia’s gender gap. They look at over 11,000 Wikipedia biographies, and find that while women’s pages are usually shorter and less frequently viewed than men’s biographies in the same professional categories, pages that are edited by Users associated with the edit-a-thons are, on average, longer and viewed more. This work shows that these feminist edit-a-thons are indeed working to close information gaps related to gender, feminism, and in the case of Art+Feminism events, the arts, beginning with Wikipedia.

However, Langrock and Gonzalez-Bailon have also identified structural areas where gender bias persists despite the work of these interventions. Pages edited by these feminist edit-a-thon attendees are linked to at much lower rates than other biographies on Wikipedia, keeping the information contained on these pages on the edges of Wikipedia’s knowledge network. For example, if you keep clicking links on Wikipedia pages, you are much less likely to end up on a biography of a woman artist than a male artist. Links are a vital way for connecting information across Wikipedia and this inequality can have ripple effects across the wider Internet.

We invite you to join us on Monday, September 19 at 5:00 pm UTC for a special Community Hour session featuring Isabelle Langrock sharing more about her research. Register here.