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New Wikipedia gender gap research posted to Meta

 

 

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deyntestiss at hotmail

Nov 7, 2011, 1:59 AM

Post #1 of 3 (1107 views)
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New Wikipedia gender gap research posted to Meta

New Wikipedia gender gap research has been posted to Meta.

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mind_the_Gap

This research was a collaborative effort of user:LauraHale, User:Hawkeye7, User:Pine, and others.

"...This analysis will focus on characteristics of female
participants on English Wikipedia. The analysis will look to see if
these participants are representative of the female English speaking
population. The analysis will also explore, through some existing
literature and in the conclusion, the question of whether these
potential differences could matter when planning strategy to target the
gender gap. "
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morton.thomas at googlemail

Nov 7, 2011, 3:32 AM

Post #2 of 3 (1040 views)
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Re: New Wikipedia gender gap research posted to Meta [In reply to]

Hmmm.

Whilst this research has interest, I don't think it really says much about
gender. This form of gender coding is extremely hand wavy; and as the
latter part of the report proves it is also largely defunct when applied to
the internet.

They clearly show that the predominant style of writing (in their sample)
is male coded. With Geek Feminism matching Wikipedia almost exactly.

Wikihow formal scored seems to be the exclusion; but we can form a
reasonable hypothesis for that (which relates to the words chosen for
scoring). Due to the subject matter of Wikihow (i.e. answering a question)
the use of personal pronouns ("me", "myself") and queries ("what","how") -
words the report identifies as formal female writing - are going to have a
naturally high occurrence. The most obvious example is "your", which is
scored quite highly as female word and which is clearly going to be a
common word on Wikihow, but barely used on Wikipedia (we do not address the
reader).

I think this explains the anomaly better than gender; and we can test it
empirically by testing word occurrence in a larger sample of both sites.

Ultimately gender scoring article text is statistically useless because the
text being tested is the product of a number of editors. By numbers this
means only a small female input in the prose is to be expected. Plus, as
described, specific writing styles are needed in an encyclopaedia - which
preclude several high scoring female words. These factors make an already
vague test ineffective :)

If I understand the conclusion I think the authors are trying to suggest
that women on Wikipedia tend to communicate in a male style - and this
could lead us into identifying a cause of the gender gap.

I think there are a number of flaws to that hypothesis - and this study
does not really contribute to understanding it. Partly because the gender
language test is flawed And partly because the chosen test areas are ones
which either proscribe a certain writing style (articles) or are not
examples of communication (user pages).

I think the only real conclusion that can be drawn from this research is
that articles on Wikipedia use language scored as male by this specific
test.

With that said; I found a lot of interesting (and well written) material
here which could be built on in other contexts :) As the authors note -
looking at actual interactions (i.e. talk pages) is the only way to draw
proper conclusions as to whether language interaction is abnormal.

We should combine this in tandem with studies into:
- whether women find interacting in a male coded way is difficult or off
putting.
- whether male coded language is more predominant on the internet.
- larger sample sets of Wikipedia-like writing (i.e. formal, informational,
neutral) using an actual blind study (to avoid gender biasing in the test).

Tom
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deyntestiss at hotmail

Nov 7, 2011, 11:49 PM

Post #3 of 3 (1044 views)
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Re: New Wikipedia gender gap research posted to Meta [In reply to]

Forwarding a response from Hawkeye7:

Yes, "the only real conclusion that can be drawn from this research is that articles on Wikipedia use language scored as male by this specific test."

This is always the problem with quantitative analysis. On the one hand, the test is both objective and repeatable; on the other it produces facts without explanation. In particular, without some form of model, it is often hard to tell cause from effect.

This is what we know; but it is but a piece of the larger puzzle.

Hawkeye7

>
> ------------------------------
>
> Message: 6
> Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 11:32:09 +0000
> From: Thomas Morton <morton.thomas [at] googlemail>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] New Wikipedia gender gap research posted
> to Meta
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
> <foundation-l [at] lists>
> Message-ID:
> <CAKO2H7-mtBU4KD_=tBLuVePJtFttzRM9+3L3jHr06ogiHoXHrg [at] mail>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
>
> Hmmm.
>
> Whilst this research has interest, I don't think it really says much about
> gender. This form of gender coding is extremely hand wavy; and as the
> latter part of the report proves it is also largely defunct when applied to
> the internet.
>
> They clearly show that the predominant style of writing (in their sample)
> is male coded. With Geek Feminism matching Wikipedia almost exactly.
>
> Wikihow formal scored seems to be the exclusion; but we can form a
> reasonable hypothesis for that (which relates to the words chosen for
> scoring). Due to the subject matter of Wikihow (i.e. answering a question)
> the use of personal pronouns ("me", "myself") and queries ("what","how") -
> words the report identifies as formal female writing - are going to have a
> naturally high occurrence. The most obvious example is "your", which is
> scored quite highly as female word and which is clearly going to be a
> common word on Wikihow, but barely used on Wikipedia (we do not address the
> reader).
>
> I think this explains the anomaly better than gender; and we can test it
> empirically by testing word occurrence in a larger sample of both sites.
>
> Ultimately gender scoring article text is statistically useless because the
> text being tested is the product of a number of editors. By numbers this
> means only a small female input in the prose is to be expected. Plus, as
> described, specific writing styles are needed in an encyclopaedia - which
> preclude several high scoring female words. These factors make an already
> vague test ineffective :)
>
> If I understand the conclusion I think the authors are trying to suggest
> that women on Wikipedia tend to communicate in a male style - and this
> could lead us into identifying a cause of the gender gap.
>
> I think there are a number of flaws to that hypothesis - and this study
> does not really contribute to understanding it. Partly because the gender
> language test is flawed And partly because the chosen test areas are ones
> which either proscribe a certain writing style (articles) or are not
> examples of communication (user pages).
>
> I think the only real conclusion that can be drawn from this research is
> that articles on Wikipedia use language scored as male by this specific
> test.
>
> With that said; I found a lot of interesting (and well written) material
> here which could be built on in other contexts :) As the authors note -
> looking at actual interactions (i.e. talk pages) is the only way to draw
> proper conclusions as to whether language interaction is abnormal.
>
> We should combine this in tandem with studies into:
> - whether women find interacting in a male coded way is difficult or off
> putting.
> - whether male coded language is more predominant on the internet.
> - larger sample sets of Wikipedia-like writing (i.e. formal, informational,
> neutral) using an actual blind study (to avoid gender biasing in the test).
>
> Tom
>

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