Is Wikipedia Sexist?

by Little Miss Attila on January 31, 2011

I doubt it.

Having edited dozens of articles there, I suspect that if females aren’t as Wiki-active as men it’s because we have a lower bullshit tolerance. Also, we’re likely to choose, as hobbies, activities other than arguing whether the inclusion of any particular detail in any given entry is, in fact, “encyclopedic.”

“Wiki-lawyering.” Gah–at least one gets paid for being a real attorney. From what I hear.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Joop January 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Actually, that something as open-source as Wikipedia does not have a lot of female representation tells us a lot.

As does the fact that very few of the top blogs are written by women.

As does the fact that very few successful stand-up comics are women (laughter cannot be forced with affirmative action).

The truth is :
Feminism, far from helping women, has forced women out of what they are actually good at, and into things that they are just not good at. This exposes the inherent limitations of women wide open for all to see, and men who would never have considered women inferior are now forced to see massive evidence of this inferiority every day.

Read this article for much more.

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Joop January 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm

The Spearhead has a great article about how absurd it is to even claim ‘sexism’ in this case :

http://www.the-spearhead.com/2011/01/31/wikipedia-pleading-for-female-contributors-without-success/

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Vercingetorix January 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm

“I suspect that if females aren’t as Wiki-active as men it’s because we have a lower bullshit tolerance.”

Huh? Have you ever spent any time with actual women? Seriously, I do love women, but a ‘negative bullshit quotient’ is the last thing I’d ever use to describe the class of beings known as ‘females.’ As an example, please refer to “Twilight”, “Cosmopolitan”, “Vogue”, Depak Chopra, “Oprah”, etc. Bullshit.

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Little Miss Attila January 31, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Vercingetorix, I’m not really into that stuff.

Joop, what is it that we’re good at, that feminism “forced” us out of? Other than being “inferior”? It sound like sisterhood is more powerful than I’d realized!

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KenB January 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm

“. . . at least one gets paid for being a real attorney. From what I hear.”

Sometimes. One hopes.

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IronMike January 31, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I note that about 7% of prisoners in federal prison are female. Now there is a chance for the feminism as nose counting crowd like Mrs. Gardner to really expand female opportunity! Lets say we get the percentage of female prisoners up to 25% by 2015! We could start by making dumb ass comments and sincere but pointlessly analysis such as that of Mrs. Gardner and Margolis a crime.

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Tom January 31, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I agree with Joop.

Miss Atilla, please read those links he provided.

After that, go to The Spearhead and read that for a week or so. : http://www.the-spearhead.com

Don’t recoil from reading it, be a brave girl and do it.

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Vercingetorix January 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Well, Miss Attila, you don’t have to be into any of those things, as I don’t have to be “into” the solution of 3rd order differential equations or the genus of South African fruit bats. Plenty of women drive Oprah’s book club, and plenty of men count and recount the angels on pinheads in internet forums.

I’m just saying that, if I were you and we were making a bet of some kind, that I would not pin my hopes on the gimlet-eyed gruff nature of the “fairer sex.”

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Suzanne Lucas January 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm

This kind of thing drives me nuts. There are no barriers to entry for Wikipedia authors. If your favorite obscure author has too short of an entry, you make it longer. Don’t whine about how you’re oppressed.

I really find it offensive that people think the reason why women aren’t contributing to Wikepedia is because the big, bad men have set it up so women won’t like it. Well, boo hoo. Even if it was a big conspiracy to keep women oppressed, there’s nothing stopping women from starting something else.

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

The problem here is that sometimes getting well sourced, well written information into Wikipedia is an uphill battle; someone will always be along to take it out.

That said, I reached my personal breaking point at Wikipedia with an administrator who happened to be a woman.

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Tom January 31, 2011 at 10:04 pm

In any intellectual contest (like a chess tournament, math contest, trivial pursuit, etc.), if a group of randomly selected adult women were pitted against a group of randomly selected 12-year-old boys…..

…..The two sides would be quite evenly matched.

If the group of boys were older, like 14, the would trounce the women handily.

Most women would call this prediction ‘sexist’, and then scurry and hide, rather than actually take up the challenge to prove they are more capable than 12-year-old boys.

The truth is, the women know they might lose.

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Joop February 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

True, that.

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Oh my god you're so wrong January 31, 2011 at 10:37 pm

we have a lower bullshit tolerance.

Vercingetorix is right. Women objectively LOVE bullshit. The weakest argument for their lack of involvement in Wikipedia would be one based on their bullshit tolerance – unless it was that Wikipedia didn’t allow enough bullshit!

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ErikZ January 31, 2011 at 10:50 pm

“…it’s because we have a lower bullshit tolerance.”

I don’t know of any job without it’s share of bullshit.

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tm January 31, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Women can’t tolerate bullshit? Wow. That’s like saying fish can’t tolerate water.

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Mike T February 1, 2011 at 4:15 am

Vercingetorix, I’m not really into that stuff.

Good for you! (And I’m not being sarcastic)

His point was not about you, it was in response to your post which implied “women as a group” have less tolerance for bullshit.

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Dennis February 1, 2011 at 4:52 am

I think it is a fact of life that significant numbers of women/men are not particularly interested in certain aspects of life. They generally gravitate to that which does interests them. It is sad that feminism lost its way when it started looking for equal outcomes and turned any disparity in gender numbers into a sexual problem.
I suspect if one took two bell curves representing on the one hand those things most indicative of males and on the other those things most indicative of women and placed them in reference to each other one would some cross over. This is as it should be because we have different interests. This is a good thing because we need the strengths of both genders to create, et al the possibilities for a good challenging life. Suffice it to say both men and women have their BS level as anyone without an agenda and a small bit of experience can readily see if they so desire.

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Rollory February 1, 2011 at 4:54 am

“Vercingetorix, I’m not really into that stuff.”

This also is typically female: use a lone example to prove or disprove a generalization about an entire class. “Women don’t dislike math – I know a woman who likes math!” It’s invalid. Specifically, your preferences in the matter have no bearing on what women in general are like – and all the listed items exist solely because of the female market.

The original statement about “lower bullshit tolerance” is pretty clearly wrong. No way around it.

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It’s not that I personally am not into those things. It’s that I know a lot of women, and none of them are into those things.

I understand that most of Oprah’s fans are in fact women. However, I don’t see how one can infer from that that most women are therefore Oprah fans.

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Ryan Waxx February 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm

“But… no one I know voted for Nixon!”

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Oh, snap. But you’re not acknowledging the logic problem, here.

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Ryan Waxx February 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Actually, I think you stole my line.

It doesn’t matter that there exist non-oprahfied females. The fact exists that there’s a heck of a lot of them (enough to make it a significant proportion of the female population), and they’re disproportionately female. That makes it a female trait, and no amount of logic chopping is going to turn around and make Oprah a male phenomenon as opposed to a female one.

Maybe you don’t like Oprah fans or associate with them. It’s fair to say that they probably don’t like or associate with you… and it doesn’t matter.

Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Ryan, what percentage of potential Wikipediasts do you feel are Oprah fans?

Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Also, I’d like to see some numbers to back this up: “It doesn’t matter that there exist non-oprahfied females. The fact exists that there’s a heck of a lot of them (enough to make it a significant proportion of the female population) . . .”

How are you defining “significant proportion”? Do you mean “statistically significant”? Because for that you only need a very tiny minority, and your assertion becomes fairly meaningless.

Ryan Waxx February 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

>>> Ryan, what percentage of potential Wikipediasts do you feel are Oprah fans?

Given that for the purposes of this discussion, every female must be considered a “potential Wikipediast”, I’d have to say a significant percentage.

But the raw numbers of watchers don’t matter as much as the fact that if Oprah wouldn’t enjoy the success she does if her thinking wasn’t compatible with an even larger amount of women (not every person who might like Oprah is going to be a fan, but conversely all her fans like her, by definition).

Undine February 1, 2011 at 5:49 am

Perhaps a lot of women don’t see it as worth the effort. Sexism is the least of Wikipedia’s problems. I gave up on that site altogether when I tried to edit an entry related to Edgar Allan Poe. It was full of provable factual errors, but whenever I tried to correct them, the imbecile who wrote the original entry would come along five minutes later and change tback to the original mistakes. It was hopeless. So now, everyone who stumbles across this entry will go away believing that Poe published poetry under the name of “Edgar T.S. Grey. Argh/

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

That’s the basic problem with Wikipedia–it’s full of bullies, and bullying admins. And there is no appeal if you’re working with an admin who is a bully.

Now, in real life when one is dealing with a bully, there is a moral obligation to stand up to him or her. But on Wikipedia? Naw–RL is short.

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ponce February 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

The entry for Lewis and Clark contains a sentence about them marrying each other that keeps appearing and disappearing on a regular basis.

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William Newman February 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

Little Miss Attila asked ‘Joop, what is it that we’re good at, that feminism “forced” us out of?’ Without particularly agreeing with Vercingetorix, I’d like to point out that being “good at” things may not be the issue in situations like this. It’s hard to figure out what people are good at unless we can arrange for them to be motivated, and it’s not clear how to arrange equal motivation in men and women. I’ve never edited a Wikipedia article, but I’ve been involved in various other heavily sex-skewed voluntary groups, e.g., free software (more than a thousand hours), clubs to play the game of Go (hundreds of hours), and clubs to play Chess and tinker with autonomous robots (dozens of hours each).

A lot of the people involved in those activities aren’t intimidatingly good at them. In Chess and Go in particular, you don’t need to get over any obstacle to start getting results, so that even untalented children can have fun if they’re motivated. Thus, it’s difficult to explain the sex difference in participation by lack of ability given that the sex difference extends so far down into the low end of ability. Many women I know, including women who have time and motivation for other volunteer recreational groups, clearly have the ability. A lot of other explanations don’t work either given that there are enough women with motivation and opportunity to form their own clubs or other arrangements — e.g., an all-female group which plays Mahjongg in the same bookstore where the heavily-skewed-male club plays Go.

So if asked “what volunteer activities have you personally seen women being motivated to do that feminists sometimes disparage explicitly and more commonly build weird defensive rationalizations for” I might answer “form not Chess and Go clubs but Mahjongg clubs; weave tapestries on handlooms instead of building robots, computers, rockets, and go-carts; study foreign languages and travel to use them instead of studying programming languages and building free software or entering programming contests to use them; and practice musical instruments and sometimes play in public.” And FWIW, my sample of women committing serious time to this kind of volunteer recreational activity includes one with a law degree and three with chemistry degrees: it’s not as though they don’t have the background or backbone to do more-stereotypically-male stuff when they choose.

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm

You’re right–mainstream feminism toggles back and forth between defining success in male-oriented terms and rejecting anything entirely that appears to be male-oriented.

That’s why it makes so many missteps.

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Linda February 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

I graduated from an engineering school in the early 90s. There was an 8 to 1 male to female ratio or about 12.5% (now about 17%). I would guess that Wiki-pedia support is dominated by tech geeks. 15% sounds right in line to me. News flash: woman are unrepresented in the hard sciences and over represented in soft sciences like psychology. Get over it. There are brain scans that show men and woman *actually* think differently. Does that make woman inferior? Superior? Whatever inflates your ego.

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

But there is nothing intrinsically hard-science-like about Wikipedia. There is an initial learning curve wherein one has to figure out its idiosyncratic notation–maddeningly unlike html. After that, it’s all writing, which is female territory; we are, after all, the verbal sex.

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Little Miss Attila February 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

Oh, I don’t have any hopes to pin on anything. I’m just concerned that you seem to be spending a lot of time with airheads.

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ponce February 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

“There was an 8 to 1 male to female ratio or about 12.5%”

Shouldn’t that be “about 11%?”

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Jazzy Woman February 3, 2011 at 8:22 am

As a wikipedia editor I know what you mean. But I don’t call it BS. I call it circle jerking. Wikipedia is a big circle jerk and female who get in the middle of it have to watch out for getting sprayed while the 20 something guys who mostly can’t get laid and only get circle jerking for action laugh their insane asses off. In fact, most of the responses to your sensible post were just circle jerking, except for the female or two or thinks she’s liberated cause she hasn’t been around long enough to get slapped down enough…

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