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encouraging women's participation
There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).

I just read this article:
"International Collaboration for Women in IT: How to Avoid Reinventing
the Wheel"
http://iisit.org/Vol7/IISITv7p329-338Craig734.pdf

which is about how the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, an
international academic computing membership organization) has a
women's interest group -- ACM-W -- which is tasked with increasing
women's participation in IT -- an equally daunting task. What's mostly
interesting about this article is it describes how ACM-W has an
ambassador program, with individuals tasked with increasing
participation in various countries. In turn these ambassadors report
that one size doesn't fit all -- increasing women's participation in
IT depends on a variety of factors, including the general status of
women's education in a country, and that the techniques one uses to
encourage female participation might vary quite a bit depending on
other cultural factors.

Of course this is not an earth-shattering conclusion, but it's also
clearly applicable to Wikimedia. I haven't seen many papers that take
an explicitly international view to the issue of women in IT, so I
thought it was interesting.

-- phoebe

--
* I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
<at> gmail.com *

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).

You may find it interesting that these kind of large imbalances can
arise out of a simple but surprising mathematical truth:

If you have a mixed population with a skill, say skateboarding, that
follows the typical normal distribution and one sub-population (e.g.
people with red hair) have an average performance only slight higher
than another sub-population (blondes), and you were to select the
best skateboarders out of the group you would end up with a
surprisingly high concentration of the red-hair subgroup, so high that
it doesn't at all seem justified by the small difference in average
performance.

This is is because in normal distributions the concentration of people
with a particular skill falls off exponentially away from the average,
so if you take the two distributions (amount of skateboarding skill
for red-hairs and blondes) and shift one a very small amount the ratio
between the two becomes increasingly large as you select for higher
and higher skill levels.

The same kind of results happen when, instead of a difference in
average performance, there is simply a difference in the variation. If
red-hairs have the same average skate-boarding skill but are less
consistent— more klutzes _and_ more superstars this has an even larger
impact than differences in the average, again biasing towards the
red-hairs.

These effects can be combined, and if there are multiple supporting
skills for a task they combine multiplicatively.[*]

The applicability here is clear: There is a strong biological argument
justifying greater variance in genetically linked traits in men (due
to the decrease in genetic redundancy) which is supported by many
studies which show greater variance in males. So all things equal any
time you select for extremes (high or low performing) you will tend to
tend to end up with a male biased group. (There are small also
differences in measured averages between men and women in many
areas...)

And many of the 'skills' that are reasonable predictions of someone's
likelihood of being a Wikipedian, if we're even to call them 'skills'
as many aren't all that flattering, are obviously male super-abundant
in the greater world. How many female obsessive stamp collectors do
you know? Male? The kind of obsessive collecting trait is almost so
exclusively male that it's a cliché, and it's pretty obvious why that
kind of person would find a calling in Wikipedia.

One piece of insight that comes out of is that general approaches
which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average people", as opposed to
uber-obsessive techobibilo walking-fact-machines, may have a greater
impact at reducing gender imbalance than female centric improvements.
(and may also reduce other non-gender related imbalances, such as our
age imbalance). So this gives you an extra reason why "more people to
edit regardless" is an especially useful approach.



Though are limits to the amount of main-streaming you can do of an
academic activity such as encyclopaedia writing. :-)

In any case, I don't mean to suggest that your work isn't important or
can't be worthwhile. Only that I think you're fighting an uphill
battle against a number of _natural_ (not human originated) biases,
and I wish you luck!



[*] A while back I wrote up a longer and highly technical version of
this explanation as part of an argument on gender imbalances in
computer science with a mathematician. Anyone into math-wankery may
find it interesting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/mf_compsci

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 5:26 PM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>
> I just read this article:
> "International Collaboration for Women in IT: How to Avoid Reinventing
> the Wheel"
> http://iisit.org/Vol7/IISITv7p329-338Craig734.pdf
>
> which is about how the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, an
> international academic computing membership organization) has a
> women's interest group -- ACM-W -- which is tasked with increasing
> women's participation in IT -- an equally daunting task. What's mostly
> interesting about this article is it describes how ACM-W has an
> ambassador program, with individuals tasked with increasing
> participation in various countries. In turn these ambassadors report
> that one size doesn't fit all -- increasing women's participation in
> IT depends on a variety of factors, including the general status of
> women's education in a country, and that the techniques one uses to
> encourage female participation might vary quite a bit depending on
> other cultural factors.
>
> Of course this is not an earth-shattering conclusion, but it's also
> clearly applicable to Wikimedia. I haven't seen many papers that take
> an explicitly international view to the issue of women in IT, so I
> thought it was interesting.
>
> -- phoebe

In my admittedly sociologically-slightly-impaired IT oriented mind, I
am not sure that the rationales for people to enter the IT field writ
large (information technology, computer science, computer engineering,
etc) match those for people to contribute to Wikipedia.

However, the generality of opportunity identified there seems useful.


--
-george william herbert
george.herbert@gmail.com

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 6:16 PM, George Herbert
<george.herbert@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 5:26 PM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
>> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
>> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
>> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
>> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
>> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>>
>> I just read this article:
>> "International Collaboration for Women in IT: How to Avoid Reinventing
>> the Wheel"
>> http://iisit.org/Vol7/IISITv7p329-338Craig734.pdf
>>
>> which is about how the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, an
>> international academic computing membership organization) has a
>> women's interest group -- ACM-W -- which is tasked with increasing
>> women's participation in IT -- an equally daunting task. What's mostly
>> interesting about this article is it describes how ACM-W has an
>> ambassador program, with individuals tasked with increasing
>> participation in various countries. In turn these ambassadors report
>> that one size doesn't fit all -- increasing women's participation in
>> IT depends on a variety of factors, including the general status of
>> women's education in a country, and that the techniques one uses to
>> encourage female participation might vary quite a bit depending on
>> other cultural factors.
>>
>> Of course this is not an earth-shattering conclusion, but it's also
>> clearly applicable to Wikimedia. I haven't seen many papers that take
>> an explicitly international view to the issue of women in IT, so I
>> thought it was interesting.
>>
>> -- phoebe
>
> In my admittedly sociologically-slightly-impaired IT oriented mind, I
> am not sure that the rationales for people to enter the IT field writ
> large (information technology, computer science, computer engineering,
> etc) match those for people to contribute to Wikipedia.
>
> However, the generality of opportunity identified there seems useful.

I guess I was thinking more about the commonalities of process: of
encouraging people to do something that requires some education but a
lot more self-motivation, and involves interacting with a somewhat
non-mainstream and sometimes exclusionary culture that may be (to a
greater or lesser degree) hostile to their participation. And what I
found interesting about this paper, even though it's not a great paper
at all, is it gets towards tossing out the idea that how you do that
is similar across the board no matter what, that in fact what it means
to interact with computer culture varies a lot depending on entirely
outside circumstances. I think that we often make this mistake in
Wikimedia too, conflating English Wikipedia culture with the culture
of all of the projects, or forgetting that what it's like to edit on a
small project is very different from what it's like to edit on a big
project, and that how we recruit -- if we are recruiting anyone at all
-- might vary a lot depending on the combination of circumstances the
potential editor is in and what it is they're trying to do.

Like I said, not an earth-shattering conclusion at all, but I've
really never seen it expressed much in the context of the women-in-IT
problem (which could just be a result of my limited reading). And I
don't think we make the case much in Wikimedia either, maybe because
there's such a recognizable set of personality traits that truly
committed wikipedians tend to possess across the board that it often
seems like those traits are the essence of editor-ness.

Greg: I think you're totally right about making things more accessible
to the average person -- by which I think we mean not an
off-the-scale-encyclopedist-geek -- rather than any special group,
and of course you can define average in ways unconnected to gender,
cultural background, age, income level, computer skills, etc. I think
when making broad changes (e.g. usability) we have to trend towards
whatever this average is -- virtually all of our readers get the same
interface experience, after all, no matter what their background might
be. And any improvements that make it easier to edit for this mythical
average population will clearly tend towards benefiting many more
people in all categories. When doing outreach, though, I think we have
to account for the differences. I'd give a different class on
Wikipedia to a bunch of fifth graders than I would to twenty-year-olds
than I would to people my dad's age; but really maybe more than age it
might be their technical proficiency that I have to account for the
most, or their level of academic training, or their general
obsessiveness about facts, or their prior knowledge of what an
encyclopedia is, or whatever. Generalizing *just* about age -- or just
about gender, or a host of other categories -- doesn't really get you
very far in the end. But it is also clear, I think, that we haven't
even reached all of the hyper-geeky people in the world (of any gender
or situation) who might think contributing to wikimedia is really
cool, so even if we're only focusing in on this rather indefinable
subgroup there's still a lot of work to do.

-- phoebe

p.s. Once upon a time I collected stamps too. There's no hope for me, is there?

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Hoi,
Have you had a look at the Indonesian competition? The Indonesian chapter
organised a competition among students of 10 universities. The result is
many more editors for the id.wp and the majority is female. I am convinced
that in many countries a similar result can be achieved.
Thanks,
GerardM

On 17 June 2010 02:26, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:

> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>
> I just read this article:
> "International Collaboration for Women in IT: How to Avoid Reinventing
> the Wheel"
> http://iisit.org/Vol7/IISITv7p329-338Craig734.pdf
>
> which is about how the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery, an
> international academic computing membership organization) has a
> women's interest group -- ACM-W -- which is tasked with increasing
> women's participation in IT -- an equally daunting task. What's mostly
> interesting about this article is it describes how ACM-W has an
> ambassador program, with individuals tasked with increasing
> participation in various countries. In turn these ambassadors report
> that one size doesn't fit all -- increasing women's participation in
> IT depends on a variety of factors, including the general status of
> women's education in a country, and that the techniques one uses to
> encourage female participation might vary quite a bit depending on
> other cultural factors.
>
> Of course this is not an earth-shattering conclusion, but it's also
> clearly applicable to Wikimedia. I haven't seen many papers that take
> an explicitly international view to the issue of women in IT, so I
> thought it was interesting.
>
> -- phoebe
>
> --
> * I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
> <at> gmail.com *
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
I don't think scapegoating Wikipedia's gender imbalances to biological
differences is especially helpful. And the suggestion that it may not be
possible to dumb-down Wikipedia enough to attract women is ridiculous
(and offensive). Regardless of our genetic predispositions, there are
very real cultural issues that frequently drive female contributors away
from Wikimedia projects. Many areas of our projects are downright
mysogynistic:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk%3APatriarchy&action=historysubmit&diff=290490477&oldid=290436986
while others are just passively sexist:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Picture_of_the_day/Archive_1#POTD.27s_depiction_of_women
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Nudity#Standard_regarding_female_vs_male_genitalia
Not to mention that our trolls seem to favor profiling and harassing
female editors:
http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=18616&st=20&p=107254&#entry107254

As long as disrespectful and sexist behavior flourishes unchecked,
editing Wikipedia will probably not be an attractive proposition for
most women. Unfortunately, this problem seems to be self-perpetuating,
as the more the gender ratio is skewed, the more the culture of
Wikipedia will tend to tolerate sexist or mysogynistic behavior, and the
more women will leave the project. I think instead of trying to figure
out some magic interface pheromone for women, we should just start
reaching out to more women directly. It would be great if the
Foundation's new public policy initiative could do outreach to some
Women's Studies programs or if we could promote Wikipedia to women's
tech groups like IBM Women in Technology or the Anita Borg Institute for
Women and Technology. Any other ideas?

Ryan Kaldari

On 6/16/10 6:04 PM, Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM, phoebe ayers<phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
>> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
>> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
>> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
>> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>>
> You may find it interesting that these kind of large imbalances can
> arise out of a simple but surprising mathematical truth:
>
> If you have a mixed population with a skill, say skateboarding, that
> follows the typical normal distribution and one sub-population (e.g.
> people with red hair) have an average performance only slight higher
> than another sub-population (blondes), and you were to select the
> best skateboarders out of the group you would end up with a
> surprisingly high concentration of the red-hair subgroup, so high that
> it doesn't at all seem justified by the small difference in average
> performance.
>
> This is is because in normal distributions the concentration of people
> with a particular skill falls off exponentially away from the average,
> so if you take the two distributions (amount of skateboarding skill
> for red-hairs and blondes) and shift one a very small amount the ratio
> between the two becomes increasingly large as you select for higher
> and higher skill levels.
>
> The same kind of results happen when, instead of a difference in
> average performance, there is simply a difference in the variation. If
> red-hairs have the same average skate-boarding skill but are less
> consistent— more klutzes _and_ more superstars this has an even larger
> impact than differences in the average, again biasing towards the
> red-hairs.
>
> These effects can be combined, and if there are multiple supporting
> skills for a task they combine multiplicatively.[*]
>
> The applicability here is clear: There is a strong biological argument
> justifying greater variance in genetically linked traits in men (due
> to the decrease in genetic redundancy) which is supported by many
> studies which show greater variance in males. So all things equal any
> time you select for extremes (high or low performing) you will tend to
> tend to end up with a male biased group. (There are small also
> differences in measured averages between men and women in many
> areas...)
>
> And many of the 'skills' that are reasonable predictions of someone's
> likelihood of being a Wikipedian, if we're even to call them 'skills'
> as many aren't all that flattering, are obviously male super-abundant
> in the greater world. How many female obsessive stamp collectors do
> you know? Male? The kind of obsessive collecting trait is almost so
> exclusively male that it's a cliché, and it's pretty obvious why that
> kind of person would find a calling in Wikipedia.
>
> One piece of insight that comes out of is that general approaches
> which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average people", as opposed to
> uber-obsessive techobibilo walking-fact-machines, may have a greater
> impact at reducing gender imbalance than female centric improvements.
> (and may also reduce other non-gender related imbalances, such as our
> age imbalance). So this gives you an extra reason why "more people to
> edit regardless" is an especially useful approach.
>
>
>
> Though are limits to the amount of main-streaming you can do of an
> academic activity such as encyclopaedia writing. :-)
>
> In any case, I don't mean to suggest that your work isn't important or
> can't be worthwhile. Only that I think you're fighting an uphill
> battle against a number of _natural_ (not human originated) biases,
> and I wish you luck!
>
>
>
> [*] A while back I wrote up a longer and highly technical version of
> this explanation as part of an argument on gender imbalances in
> computer science with a mathematician. Anyone into math-wankery may
> find it interesting:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/mf_compsci
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM, Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> I don't think scapegoating Wikipedia's gender imbalances to biological
> differences is especially helpful. And the suggestion that it may not be
> possible to dumb-down Wikipedia enough to attract women is ridiculous
> (and offensive). Regardless of our genetic predispositions, there are
> very real cultural issues that frequently drive female contributors away
> from Wikimedia projects.
[snip]

Ryan,

I believe your post was unnecessarily confrontational. I would expect
you to call me out on that kind of thing, so I'm going to call you out
on it.

I generally succeed at being thick skinned— but this characterization
of my words is hurtful and the witch hunts that sometimes accompany
responses like yours are outright frightening. I'm also concerned for
other contributors who aren't as online-tough as I am... I know people
who wouldn't touch a gender-issues thread with a 10ft poll because
they are sure that they'll be misunderstood and burned alive.

We can't improve diversity if we create the impression that anyone who
disagrees with the group or shares a contrary view is "the enemy" and
fair game for an attack. We should welcome contrary views, even wrong
ones, and treat all speakers with patience, respect, and a
healthy-helping of assume-good-faith— even when, and especially when,
our first impression of their positions is that they are ones which
might be harmful to some group or another.

After all, by ferreting out a wrong position and building a good
counter argument in a respectful discussion between colleges we build
knowledge and skills that help us see and correct the same wrongness
everywhere. But that can't happen if we use language to address wrong
positions that reflect negatively on the character of the speaker.

... and to get real change on these kinds of pervasive issues we need
the broadest input and the broadest buy in. This can't be achieved if
the topic is one which people feel is open only to people who know the
right things to say and the right ways to say them.



The characterization of my mainstreaming suggestion as "dumb-down
Wikipedia enough to attract women" is exceptionally uncharitable and
contributed significantly to my impression that you were trying to
make a target out of me. Just so there is no lack of clarity on this
point, I'm opposed to "dumbing down" in general and the idea that
anything would need to be made _dumb_ to attract Women is completely
unsupported by any information that I've seen. Making things more
attractive to typical people doesn't mean making them dumber.

... In this case I wasn't even disagreeing with anyone. I'd take your
complaint, if not the tone, as a deserved response if I'd dismissed
any examples similar to the ones you provided in your post... but I
simply didn't. I fully agree that there are "real cultural issues",
and that they should be addressed. (Though I would point out, the
author of that first horrifying diff-link has long since left the
project, so I'm at a loss as to what action I could take now to deal
with that particular case).

Any time you can point to clear articulatable problems, I'm all for
taking action. Once you've taken care of them, however, it's also
important the you keep in mind that some of the imbalances are caused
by external factors or indirect non-discriminatory internal ones. By
keeping all possible causes in mind, and by maintaining a friendly and
positive environment for collaboration, we have the greatest
opportunity to get the most benefit in the shortest amount of time.

I apologise for giving you— or anyone else— the impression that my
post was intended to reflect negatively on Women. That was certainly
not my intention. In fact, what I was saying arguably the converse
(and I used a fairly derogatory language to characterize what
Wikipedia selection bias that I'd like to see us temper somewhat,
"uber-obsessive techobibilo walking-fact-machines", something which
sounds more like a side show exhibit than a human being). I believe
Wikipedia's form and practices select for weirdos in many different
ways, — some weird in 'good ways', many of then negative weirdnesses,
(and, I'm sure many more neutral ones).

Some of those selections conspired against including Women (and people
of many other backgrounds), ... fewer conspire against selecting our
existing majority population, because our existing population has done
a good job of removing the things that irritate them.

...and it's worth bringing up because it can lead to interesting
suggestions, like the idea that making Wikipedia less appealing to
weirdos can improve diversity in areas which are not obviously
strongly connected to the specific weirdness since selecting for
extremes magnifies even small differences between groups.

There are plenty of ways that Wikipedia participation rewards being
weird— such as having the patience to write a novel defending yourself
when someone tries to paint a target on your back... or just having
the interest in dealing with an obscure series of commands required to
make a wikitext table. By making Wikipedia more mainstream in any
area which are not essential to our mission (for example, I wouldn't
suggest trying to 'mainstream' our attention to facts) we can expect
improvements in diversity (gender or otherwise).

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't worry about fixing the existence
of bigoted jerkwads on the projects, nor does the existence of
jerkwads justify ignoring all other contributing factors.

Cheers,

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:00 AM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com> wrote:
> counter argument in a respectful discussion between colleges we build

If I can't even manage to say "colleague" without screwing it up, how
can we assume that anything I say was an insult to anything and not
just some kind of unfortunate miscommunication? (sorry for the lack of
proof-reading, I must have been too busy vomiting out a large volume
of words)

I am probably less clearly spoken than most people here, — pretty
shameful considering that English is my native language and isn't for
many of the other people on this list— but I am by no means alone in
communicating poorly from time to time.

If nothing else I hope that my frequent incoherence can serve as an
example of why it is essential to be patient and tolerant when we
communicate with others.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Ask any librarian about what men and women are reading. Men prefer non
fictional, women fictional works. Not all of them, of course, but in
large majorities. I doubt that that has no consequences for Wikipedia
editing behavior.
And, as a women once told to a magazine: Women are too polite to
correct someone in public. :-)
Kind regards
Ziko


2010/6/18 Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org>:
> I don't think scapegoating Wikipedia's gender imbalances to biological
> differences is especially helpful. And the suggestion that it may not be
> possible to dumb-down Wikipedia enough to attract women is ridiculous
> (and offensive). Regardless of our genetic predispositions, there are
> very real cultural issues that frequently drive female contributors away
> from Wikimedia projects. Many areas of our projects are downright
> mysogynistic:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk%3APatriarchy&action=historysubmit&diff=290490477&oldid=290436986
> while others are just passively sexist:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Picture_of_the_day/Archive_1#POTD.27s_depiction_of_women
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons_talk:Nudity#Standard_regarding_female_vs_male_genitalia
> Not to mention that our trolls seem to favor profiling and harassing
> female editors:
> http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=18616&st=20&p=107254&#entry107254
>
> As long as disrespectful and sexist behavior flourishes unchecked,
> editing Wikipedia will probably not be an attractive proposition for
> most women. Unfortunately, this problem seems to be self-perpetuating,
> as the more the gender ratio is skewed, the more the culture of
> Wikipedia will tend to tolerate sexist or mysogynistic behavior, and the
> more women will leave the project. I think instead of trying to figure
> out some magic interface pheromone for women, we should just start
> reaching out to more women directly. It would be great if the
> Foundation's new public policy initiative could do outreach to some
> Women's Studies programs or if we could promote Wikipedia to women's
> tech groups like IBM Women in Technology or the Anita Borg Institute for
> Women and Technology. Any other ideas?
>
> Ryan Kaldari
>
> On 6/16/10 6:04 PM, Gregory Maxwell wrote:
>> On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM, phoebe ayers<phoebe.wiki@gmail.com>  wrote:
>>
>>> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
>>> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
>>> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
>>> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
>>> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>>>
>> You may find it interesting that these kind of large imbalances can
>> arise out of a simple but surprising mathematical truth:
>>
>> If you have a mixed population with a skill, say skateboarding, that
>> follows the typical normal distribution and one sub-population (e.g.
>> people with red hair) have an average performance only slight higher
>> than another sub-population (blondes),  and you were to select the
>> best skateboarders out of the group you would end up with a
>> surprisingly high concentration of the red-hair subgroup, so high that
>> it doesn't at all seem justified by the small difference in average
>> performance.
>>
>> This is is because in normal distributions the concentration of people
>> with a particular skill falls off exponentially away from the average,
>> so if you take the two distributions (amount of skateboarding skill
>> for red-hairs and blondes) and shift one a very small amount the ratio
>> between the two becomes increasingly large as you select for higher
>> and higher skill levels.
>>
>> The same kind of results happen when, instead of a difference in
>> average performance, there is simply a difference in the variation. If
>> red-hairs have the same average skate-boarding skill but are less
>> consistent— more klutzes _and_ more superstars this has an even larger
>> impact than differences in the average, again biasing towards the
>> red-hairs.
>>
>> These effects can be combined, and if there are multiple supporting
>> skills for a task they combine multiplicatively.[*]
>>
>> The applicability here is clear: There is a strong biological argument
>> justifying greater variance in genetically linked traits in men (due
>> to the decrease in genetic redundancy) which is supported by many
>> studies which show greater variance in males.  So all things equal any
>> time you select for extremes (high or low performing) you will tend to
>> tend to end up with a male biased group. (There are small also
>> differences in measured averages between men and women in many
>> areas...)
>>
>> And many of the 'skills' that are reasonable predictions of someone's
>> likelihood of being a Wikipedian, if we're even to call them 'skills'
>> as many aren't all that flattering,  are obviously male super-abundant
>> in the greater world.   How many female obsessive stamp collectors do
>> you know? Male?  The kind of obsessive collecting trait is almost so
>> exclusively male that it's a cliché, and it's pretty obvious why that
>> kind of person would find a calling in Wikipedia.
>>
>> One piece of insight that comes out of is that general approaches
>> which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average people", as opposed to
>> uber-obsessive techobibilo walking-fact-machines,  may have a greater
>> impact at reducing gender imbalance than female centric improvements.
>> (and may also reduce other non-gender related imbalances, such as our
>> age imbalance).  So this gives you an extra reason why "more people to
>> edit regardless" is an especially useful approach.
>>
>>
>>
>> Though are limits to the amount of main-streaming you can do of an
>> academic activity such as encyclopaedia writing. :-)
>>
>> In any case, I don't mean to suggest that your work isn't important or
>> can't be worthwhile.  Only that I think you're fighting an uphill
>> battle against a number of _natural_ (not human originated) biases,
>> and I wish you luck!
>>
>>
>>
>> [*] A while back I wrote up a longer and highly technical version of
>> this explanation as part of an argument on gender imbalances in
>> computer science with a mathematician. Anyone into math-wankery may
>> find it interesting:
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/mf_compsci
>>
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--
Ziko van Dijk
Niederlande

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 10:15 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com> wrote:
> If nothing else I hope that my frequent incoherence can serve as an
> example of why it is essential to be patient and tolerant when we
> communicate with others.

Indeed. And you're being too hard on yourself; I don't think you were
incoherent, and you're definitely not frequently incoherent.

I think Ryan definitely misread your message, and I think he reacted
strongly to what he thought he read. And if you had indeed said what
he thought you said, I think his response would have been appropriate
-- strong in criticizing the substance, but not personal.

But, he didn't, so it was fair for you to clarify your words, and it
was also fair for you to be sensitive about them. These are sensitive
topics and sensitive times, and we should all remember to cut each
other some slack as we try to grapple with them.

I think a few good things came out of this interchange. I agree with
Greg's point that trying to make Wikimedia sites more palatable to
non-uber-obsessive technobiblio walking-fact-machines (but still well
qualified) types will probably have a greater impact at reducing
gender imbalance than targeting improvements at a specific
demographic. Removing Wikitext as a barrier may, in and of itself,
have a significant impact on editor diversity.

I also agree with Phoebe's point. We can't treat this as a
one-size-fits-all problem. There may be serious contextual differences
across different languages and projects that may require different
approaches. We need to be aware of this while also addressing the
clear systemic problems. It would indeed be interesting to see what we
could learn from id.wp's recent experiences.

Which brings me to Ryan's points. There are serious cultural issues
that need to be addressed. They may not be systemic -- it's possible,
even probable, that there are projects that do not, intentionally or
not, create environments hostile to women or other demographics. But
when we do see that happen, we need to address it.

Speaking as a man who grew up in a household of women and who works a
lot in fields that are predominantly female (nonprofits and
facilitation), I'd like to claim that I'm especially sensitive to
these issues. Sadly, it doesn't really work that way. This stuff is
not simple, and environment can exacerbate things.

In the strategy project alone, there have been at least two instances
where I've been guilty of perpetuating an environment that was less
than conducive to women. Last September, when a group of us were
brainstorming a list of potential candidates for the Task Force
Selection committee, the first list was almost entirely men. This was
a natural and harmless result; after all, the vast majority of our
volunteers are men. However, I asked the group to think harder to see
if we could come up with a group that was 50-50 male-female. I wasn't
proposing it as some artificial quota that might reward lesser
qualified candidates just because they were women. Despite the gender
skew of our volunteers, I didn't think it was unreasonable to identify
five great women volunteers.

I think we did a good job of this, and I was thrilled by the final
makeup of our committee. However, in one of the committee discussions,
I once again expressed my hope that we would think a little harder in
order to achieve greater diversity in our Task Forces, and I told this
story as an example of what I wanted to see. However, I wasn't careful
enough with my words, and one of the female committee members
interpreted my story to mean that she was only asked to be on the
committee because she was a woman. I tried to clarify my words, but
the damage had already been done.

The second instance was during IRC office hours several months ago. It
was late at night (for me), and I'm pretty sure only men were
participating -- you can never be sure with IRC. At one point, some
locker room humor started. I chuckled to myself, and let it go. I like
locker room humor, and when I'm in a room with a bunch of guy friends,
I think it's harmless. The problem is, office hours on a publicly
logged IRC channel is not the same as my living room. I realized
afterward that women who were on the IRC channel or who read the logs
afterward would not have found our interchange welcoming. I've been
much more diligent about moderating this since, and Philippe's
sensitive facilitation has helped immensely, but the tendency has come
up again and again. It's not intentional, but it's not right either.

This stuff will happen, even if we have the best of intentions. We
need to be willing to call each other out when we see it happening,
and we need to be firm, yet forgiving in how we educate each other.
It's a challenge with diversity as a whole, not just with women, and
it's a challenge that we should all embrace. It will make our projects
better.

=Eugene

--
======================================================================
Eugene Eric Kim ................................ http://xri.net/=eekim
Blue Oxen Associates ........................ http://www.blueoxen.com/
======================================================================

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com>wrote:
>
> The characterization of my mainstreaming suggestion as "dumb-down
> Wikipedia enough to attract women" is exceptionally uncharitable and
> contributed significantly to my impression that you were trying to
> make a target out of me. Just so there is no lack of clarity on this
> point, I'm opposed to "dumbing down" in general and the idea that
> anything would need to be made _dumb_ to attract Women is completely
> unsupported by any information that I've seen. Making things more
> attractive to typical people doesn't mean making them dumber.


As a passive reader of this thread, I'd like to come to both of your
defenses.

Greg, I don't think anyone was reading your thread with that as the
implication. I certainly didn't take it that way, and I don't think Ryan
did. He was making a supplemental point of the issue. No big deal, both
posts are well thought out and while slightly contrary in nature, have the
same end point.
--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 10:00 PM, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM, Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> I don't think scapegoating Wikipedia's gender imbalances to biological
>> differences is especially helpful. And the suggestion that it may not be
>> possible to dumb-down Wikipedia enough to attract women is ridiculous
>> (and offensive). Regardless of our genetic predispositions, there are
>> very real cultural issues that frequently drive female contributors away
>> from Wikimedia projects.
> [snip]
>
> Ryan,
>
> I believe your post was unnecessarily confrontational.  I would expect
> you to call me out on that kind of thing, so I'm going to call you out
> on it.

If it makes any difference, I think you're both right in part -- Ryan
is of course correct that there are there are cultural issues on the
projects and these may result in real, immediate barriers for specific
people who try to edit[1]. I have no idea if Greg is right about this
genetic differences theory -- I don't have the math or the biology
cred to evaluate such a claim, but do know this is a deeply
controversial area[2] -- but your (hopefully larger) point seems
un-controversial enough, that making things easier for people who
haven't self-selected as editors already, with whatever concentration
of traits skewed from the general population such self-selection may
produce, will result in a more diverse editorial body in general. And
I think we all hope that a more diverse editorial body will lead to a
better site culture and less systemic bias in articles (this is of
course open to argument, though).

These two things are not mutually exclusive, however. My point was
that stereotyping too much about women (via genetic differences, or
assuming that all countries are just like the U.S.) is bad for
outreach; but not stereotyping at all -- not recognizing that there
are techniques we could use to outreach to underrepresented groups,
perhaps learning from other outreach done by other organizations with
similar goals -- would be unfortunate too.

There's another good conversation about this topic going on here:
http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Strategic_Plan/Movement_Priorities#diversity_4675

-- phoebe


[1] or even talk about it; as Greg says there are plenty of people I
know and respect who have strong views on this topic who won't write
about them, because they'll get shot down. I had to think about it for
a while myself.
[2]. controversial enough that it's gotten a lot of people in trouble
scientifically and socially, including the president of Harvard, whom
you cite in your other piece; honestly, you should also probably
expect serious debate if you go there. Two nice summaries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Summers#Differences_between_the_sexes,
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/01/17/summers_remarks_on_women_draw_fire/

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Eugene's post is too long for me to snip but it's basically what I would
have said if I was in my usual verbose mood.

Basically, I went through a similar thing on strategy wiki selecting the
"official members" of the Living People Task Force. After discussion with
Cary and Philippe, we went with three men and three women of various
strategic targeting levels and it worked out that the selection provided me
valuable input in facilitating the project. I think that, when it matters,
Wikimedians do not care about gender/race/orientation. I'm a straight male
about to turn twenty-nine, I'm definitely not in the majority of the
userbase, but I am in the target consumer usage base. Additionally, based
on my offline life experience, we absolutely value female userbase as
compared to the outside world in the US. Just my opinion there.
--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 1:35 AM, Keegan Peterzell <keegan.wiki@gmail.com>wrote:

> Eugene's post is too long for me to snip but it's basically what I would
> have said if I was in my usual verbose mood.
>
> Basically, I went through a similar thing on strategy wiki selecting the
> "official members" of the Living People Task Force. After discussion with
> Cary and Philippe, we went with three men and three women of various
> strategic targeting levels and it worked out that the selection provided me
> valuable input in facilitating the project. I think that, when it matters,
> Wikimedians do not care about gender/race/orientation. I'm a straight male
> about to turn twenty-nine, I'm definitely not in the majority of the
> userbase, but I am in the target consumer usage base. Additionally, based
> on my offline life experience, we absolutely value female userbase as
> compared to the outside world in the US. Just my opinion there.
> --
> ~Keegan
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
>


I should clarify, "a target usage base".
--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
I've been following this thread and it occurred to me that Phoebe is the
lone woman posting to it, so I feel somewhat duty-bound to share my own
perspective as a woman editor on English Wikipedia. I don't intend this to
encapsulate everything that there is to be said on the subject, and it's a
topic I could probably write forever on, so I will only share a few of my
observations.

At the time I joined the project, many female administrators and editors
were experiencing serious harassment, both on- and off-wiki;while I won't
say that scared me away from Wikipedia, it was part of my motivation to
select a gender-neutral username and to not openly disclose that I am a
woman until a considerable time after I first logged in. (I think most
members of the community only discovered I was a woman during my Request for
Adminship, and I am still referred to as "he" on a regular basis.) Once my
"femaleness" was publicly known, I found there was a definite change in the
way that some (but not most) male editors and administrators interacted with
me. There's even a comment on my RfA by someone who apologised for teasing
me because he didn't realise I was a "lady".

At the same time, because so few women are participating in the various
projects, those of us who are visible are often asked to take on additional
roles over and above that of editor/administrator. This is both good and
bad. In my current role as an arbitrator on my home project, I rarely have
the time to do the work that originally brought me to Wikipedia, and I miss
being able to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon hitting "random page" and
wikignoming my way through a few dozen articles, or clearing out the "speedy
deletion" pages. On the other hand, I know I probably have a
disproportionate influence on various policies and practices, and I hope
that my visibility encourages other women to step into leadership roles or
even, for that matter, to feel comfortable in self-identifying as female.

Reading through this thread, I understand Ryan's interpretation of Greg's
post and, to be honest, my own interpretation might well have been somewhat
similar....if I didn't know Greg. I've met Greg and spoken to him. Just the
other night, Greg and I spent the better part of an hour hammering out a
step-by-step guide for one aspect of the pending changes variation that is
currently undergoing trial on English Wikipedia, and I know beyond doubt
that our ability to work together wasn't affected in any way by the fact
he's a "he" and I'm a "she". I don't think it's particularly healthy to
expect everyone to write in a way that causes no offense to anyone, but I
think we all need to be cognizant that *anything* we say can be misread with
best intentions.

Eugene hits on an important point: the unintentional seepage of the locker
room, which to me includes the use of aggressive language, into various
communication channels. I moderate several other mailing lists, and from
time to time I've had to step in and point it out fairly bluntly ("there's
too much testosterone in this thread"); to be honest, I think this mailing
list could use someone saying that a little more often. I can't be bothered
investing my valuable time into reading a lot of chest-thumping and
finger-pointing, so worthwhile points made in those posts aren't hitting
their target. It's my observation that women participants are less willing
to invest their time and energy into the endless and circular debates that
masquerade as consensus-seeking discussions, and they just move on to
something they feel is of greater value. (Many male participants also do the
same thing, I should note.) For those who are aware of the endless
behavioural debates on various projects, I need to point out that this isn't
about civility. I've noticed that experienced wikimedians are very talented
at throwing insults at each other without once crossing the civility
boundaries.

As I say, these are just a few of my own observations. They've all affected
my own participation in the project, and I know they have, to varying
degrees, affected the way that other women participate in various projects.
I don't know whether there's anything that could change most of them,
either.


Risker/Anne
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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Gregory,
I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your post, but it sounded very much like
you were saying that encyclopedia writing is a skill that is too
academic for women:
"...general approaches which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average
people"... may have a greater impact at reducing gender imbalance than
female centric improvements... Though are limits to the amount of
main-streaming you can do of an academic activity such as encyclopaedia
writing."

Perhaps you were not meaning to imply that women are too "average" to be
interested in academic activities. I'm glad to hear that isn't the case,
but I would encourage you to be more careful with your wording in the
future. There is a long history of scientific apologetics being used to
perpetuate sexism, racism, etc. Just look at the "science" of
phrenology, or more recently "The Bell Curve". Anyway, I don't want to
drag this thread into a debate on scientific -isms. I just wanted to
remind everyone that there are real steps that can be taken to address
the gender imbalance problem, regardless of any real or perceived gender
differences.

Ryan Kaldari

On 6/17/10 8:46 PM, Gregory Maxwell wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM, Ryan Kaldari<rkaldari@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>
>> I don't think scapegoating Wikipedia's gender imbalances to biological
>> differences is especially helpful. And the suggestion that it may not be
>> possible to dumb-down Wikipedia enough to attract women is ridiculous
>> (and offensive).
>>
> I'm finding your response fairly offensive and insulting. It is out
> of line and I believe you owe me a public apology.
>
> That kind of hostility is no way to create an effective environment
> for collaboration for _anyone_.
>
> How can we hope to be inclusive of a broader audience when we can't
> even maintain professional decorum among the regulars?
>

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Ryan Kaldari wrote:
> Gregory,
> I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your post, but it sounded very much like
> you were saying that encyclopedia writing is a skill that is too
> academic for women:
> "...general approaches which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average
> people"... may have a greater impact at reducing gender imbalance than
> female centric improvements... Though are limits to the amount of
> main-streaming you can do of an academic activity such as encyclopaedia
> writing."
>
> Perhaps you were not meaning to imply that women are too "average" to be
> interested in academic activities. I'm glad to hear that isn't the case,
> but I would encourage you to be more careful with your wording in the
> future. There is a long history of scientific apologetics being used to
> perpetuate sexism, racism, etc. Just look at the "science" of
> phrenology, or more recently "The Bell Curve". Anyway, I don't want to
> drag this thread into a debate on scientific -isms. I just wanted to
> remind everyone that there are real steps that can be taken to address
> the gender imbalance problem, regardless of any real or perceived gender
> differences.
>
I think the valuable point Gregory had, which is obscured both by the
sensitivity of the topic and the obscurity of the theoretical basis for
the argument, is that there's quite a bit that can be done to encourage
greater female participation that doesn't involve specifically targeting
females. This need not (and should not) assume that women have less
ability, so it's also important to use care in how we frame the
discussion. But I think the academic performance of women in society
generally amply demonstrates that there's nothing fundamental about a
knowledge-sharing project - that being our ultimate aim - which would
explain the kind of imbalance that exists in our community.

It is possible to theorize about biological differences like greater
genetic variability as explanations, but for characteristics like gender
that are so intimately connected to a social construction of the
concept, it's largely impossible to truly isolate them and eliminate the
social factors at play. That also makes it hard to talk about the
subject without perilous characterizations and generalizations, but talk
about it we must.

At risk of going in that direction, I could suggest that usability
initiatives fit in very well with what Gregory was suggesting. Usability
doesn't particularly have gender on the agenda, but it's possible to see
that type of concern as somehow "female" in our society. To use a bit of
gross stereotyping, one might consider it typically male to seek to
demonstrate skill in mastering a challenging environment, and more
typically female to seek to apply skill toward changing the environment
to make it less challenging. The problem is partly that while from a
neutral perspective, there's no particular reason to favor either of
these skills, in practice we tend to be quite imbalanced, with social
consequences that follow accordingly.

Another illustration are the cultural issues various people have
highlighted here, such as hostility and tone of discussion. On the
surface those are gender-neutral considerations, but because of how
people are socialized, they have important consequences in reality.
That's before we even get into problems where gender is more obviously
implicated, like locker-room-type banter or casual objectification of
women. This is why I think it's so important for us to examine our
culture and figure out what we need to do to improve it.

--Michael Snow

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Here are my two cents...

I am organizing now TEDx event in Belgrade. (Unlike others, our
speakers will sign contract for CC-BY-SA, too.) And I am carefully
watching gender and age involvement at the Facebook page.

Our predispositions were again dominantly male: 5 males and one female
in organization. Gender ratio is not better now in organization, while
we are trying to make it better.

We had disbalance at the beginning, while not so strong as we have in
Wikimedia (something like 55:40, with ~5% of users who are not
expressing their gender). It is now 48:46 for males.

So, by age and gender, dominant groups are:
* male 25-34: 25%
* female 25-34: 23%
* female 18-24: 11%
* male 18-24: 9%
* male 35-44: 9%
* female 35-44: 8%

(There are ~400 fans now.)

It is interesting that the only constant is 18-24 age group with
stable ration 11%:9% for females for months. In all other age groups
we have constant raising of female ratio.

It should be mentioned that a number of females are willing to
participate in organization (but the process of adopting someone is
not so fast), which means that it is not just a relation between
active and passive involvement.

Let's try to compare TEDx event with Wikipedia/Wikimedia:
* Both are fancy.
* Both are about top achievements of humankind.
* Both are about community. Yes, TED treats audience and speakers both
as participants.
* Wikipedia is more famous than TED.
* Age groups are similar.
* I don't have any doubt that there is ~50:50 ratio for using
Wikipedia, as it is for TED.
* TED has much less content, but it has much higher ratio of
interesting content per time spent on site.
* I am carefully choosing TED talks for Facebook page and we generally
have good feedback. However, sometimes I am wrong [1][2]
* TED's rule "no political and religious agenda", as well as well
defined TED's scope (science, technology, art etc.) saves us from the
topics which could potentially produce endless arguing.
* Whenever someone has some constructive idea, I am applying it and
saying thanks to that person. This makes atmosphere better.
* TEDx is not about everyday editing, but about periodical events.
However, participation could be treated similarly. Nobody needs to
edit Wikipedia every day.
* Technical skills needed for participation in TEDx event are much
less than those needed for editing Wikimedia projects.
* TEDx events are more social. BUT, it is not TED's per se advantage,
it is about our leading of Wikimedia communities. We will have regular
meetings, probably on weekly basis, out of the main events.
* TEDx events and everything around them are much less stressful than
editing Wikipedia and trying to find your place inside of one enormous
bureaucracy of Wikimedia communities.
* TEDx events and communities around them are not mature. We shell see
their development.
* <for sure something more, it would be good to give a deeper
analysis; feel free to give your comparisons>

Some conclusions may be:
* Creating featured AND interesting content and gather that content on
some separate project. "The Best of Wikimedia" or so. But, not,
featured encyclopedic article is not *that* interesting, usually. It
is not so interesting to read about Belgrade as the feature article on
English Wikipedia. Having a featured article on English Wikipedia
raises proud of inhabitants of particular area, but it is not
interesting. Contrary, I think that we have a lot of interesting
materials at Wikimedia projects, which should be just presented
nicely.
* One ordinary Wikimedian meetup is usually not so fascinating event.
Talking about templates, MediaWiki skins, ideas for getting more
content at the best (WWII tanks, airplanes and tactics, ass well as
about various disputes on projects at the worst) -- is not so
interesting for an outsider. We need to find a better way for present
ourselves to the world.
* I am thinking intensively about the possibility of splitting
communities to those which main interests are in politics, religion
and being fans of whatever -- and everybody else. Probably, building
community would be much easier without partisans.
* WP:BITE is something about we are talking a lot, but I don't see any
advancement. Just a couple of months ago, I had on my back a classical
example of bureaucratic asshole at en.wp. He thought that he knows
Wikipedia bureaucracy better than me ha ha ha :D But, I can just
imagine the first impression of any newcomer. BTW, I am rarely editing
en.wp. Probably, in two major edits I am getting one bureaucratic
asshole on my back.
* Lower technical knowledge requirements. If WYSIWYG editor is science
fiction, maybe a kind of help for structural writing could be helpful:
Write in this box title, write in this box introduction, write in that
box section title etc. I don't know...
* Make social events. They don't need to be connected with Wikimedia
projects by idiot-friendly semantics. They could be about much more
interesting things. Promotion of science via talks, events, parties
should be perfectly fine for our goals. Finding some pop-star to sing
for ~50 or ~500 Wikimedians and their friends would be also fine.
* Make some auxiliary ways to involve people who don't want to waste
time with many Wikipedia jerks. Wikimedia should actively promote
license-compatible sites which content can be used on Wikimedia
projects.
* ...

[1] - My assumption was that females would like Jamie Oliver's talk.
But, it turned out that it is not the case. After I posted one of his
talks, I was talking with a couple of females, who ranked his talk as
less interesting than tech-related talks.
[2] - In a post-modern society, it is not so welcomed to talk against
various pseudosciences. Astrology, homeopathy and similar cults are
highly ranked at the fanciness scale. Fortunately, TED is pro-science,
which makes to me a field to be a little bit arrogant: If you really
care about those things, then TEDx event is not for you.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Milos, this is really interesting -- thanks for posting it.

I'm sorry as usual to top-post and not snip (BB), but I did want to make a tiny point about TED. My understanding is they've been super-successful with translations -- a very large and active transcribing-and-translating-of-talks community has developed for them quite spontaneously, and the TED organization has been trying to figure out how best to support them. (I don't mean to suggest the TED organization has been having difficulties in that regard: my impression is they're thrilled.)

I've asked Philippe to take a look at TED's translation community and see if there's anything we can learn from it -- others might want to do the same.

Thanks,
Sue

-----Original Message-----
From: Milos Rancic <millosh@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 22:21:03
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] encouraging women's participation

Here are my two cents...

I am organizing now TEDx event in Belgrade. (Unlike others, our
speakers will sign contract for CC-BY-SA, too.) And I am carefully
watching gender and age involvement at the Facebook page.

Our predispositions were again dominantly male: 5 males and one female
in organization. Gender ratio is not better now in organization, while
we are trying to make it better.

We had disbalance at the beginning, while not so strong as we have in
Wikimedia (something like 55:40, with ~5% of users who are not
expressing their gender). It is now 48:46 for males.

So, by age and gender, dominant groups are:
* male 25-34: 25%
* female 25-34: 23%
* female 18-24: 11%
* male 18-24: 9%
* male 35-44: 9%
* female 35-44: 8%

(There are ~400 fans now.)

It is interesting that the only constant is 18-24 age group with
stable ration 11%:9% for females for months. In all other age groups
we have constant raising of female ratio.

It should be mentioned that a number of females are willing to
participate in organization (but the process of adopting someone is
not so fast), which means that it is not just a relation between
active and passive involvement.

Let's try to compare TEDx event with Wikipedia/Wikimedia:
* Both are fancy.
* Both are about top achievements of humankind.
* Both are about community. Yes, TED treats audience and speakers both
as participants.
* Wikipedia is more famous than TED.
* Age groups are similar.
* I don't have any doubt that there is ~50:50 ratio for using
Wikipedia, as it is for TED.
* TED has much less content, but it has much higher ratio of
interesting content per time spent on site.
* I am carefully choosing TED talks for Facebook page and we generally
have good feedback. However, sometimes I am wrong [1][2]
* TED's rule "no political and religious agenda", as well as well
defined TED's scope (science, technology, art etc.) saves us from the
topics which could potentially produce endless arguing.
* Whenever someone has some constructive idea, I am applying it and
saying thanks to that person. This makes atmosphere better.
* TEDx is not about everyday editing, but about periodical events.
However, participation could be treated similarly. Nobody needs to
edit Wikipedia every day.
* Technical skills needed for participation in TEDx event are much
less than those needed for editing Wikimedia projects.
* TEDx events are more social. BUT, it is not TED's per se advantage,
it is about our leading of Wikimedia communities. We will have regular
meetings, probably on weekly basis, out of the main events.
* TEDx events and everything around them are much less stressful than
editing Wikipedia and trying to find your place inside of one enormous
bureaucracy of Wikimedia communities.
* TEDx events and communities around them are not mature. We shell see
their development.
* <for sure something more, it would be good to give a deeper
analysis; feel free to give your comparisons>

Some conclusions may be:
* Creating featured AND interesting content and gather that content on
some separate project. "The Best of Wikimedia" or so. But, not,
featured encyclopedic article is not *that* interesting, usually. It
is not so interesting to read about Belgrade as the feature article on
English Wikipedia. Having a featured article on English Wikipedia
raises proud of inhabitants of particular area, but it is not
interesting. Contrary, I think that we have a lot of interesting
materials at Wikimedia projects, which should be just presented
nicely.
* One ordinary Wikimedian meetup is usually not so fascinating event.
Talking about templates, MediaWiki skins, ideas for getting more
content at the best (WWII tanks, airplanes and tactics, ass well as
about various disputes on projects at the worst) -- is not so
interesting for an outsider. We need to find a better way for present
ourselves to the world.
* I am thinking intensively about the possibility of splitting
communities to those which main interests are in politics, religion
and being fans of whatever -- and everybody else. Probably, building
community would be much easier without partisans.
* WP:BITE is something about we are talking a lot, but I don't see any
advancement. Just a couple of months ago, I had on my back a classical
example of bureaucratic asshole at en.wp. He thought that he knows
Wikipedia bureaucracy better than me ha ha ha :D But, I can just
imagine the first impression of any newcomer. BTW, I am rarely editing
en.wp. Probably, in two major edits I am getting one bureaucratic
asshole on my back.
* Lower technical knowledge requirements. If WYSIWYG editor is science
fiction, maybe a kind of help for structural writing could be helpful:
Write in this box title, write in this box introduction, write in that
box section title etc. I don't know...
* Make social events. They don't need to be connected with Wikimedia
projects by idiot-friendly semantics. They could be about much more
interesting things. Promotion of science via talks, events, parties
should be perfectly fine for our goals. Finding some pop-star to sing
for ~50 or ~500 Wikimedians and their friends would be also fine.
* Make some auxiliary ways to involve people who don't want to waste
time with many Wikipedia jerks. Wikimedia should actively promote
license-compatible sites which content can be used on Wikimedia
projects.
* ...

[1] - My assumption was that females would like Jamie Oliver's talk.
But, it turned out that it is not the case. After I posted one of his
talks, I was talking with a couple of females, who ranked his talk as
less interesting than tech-related talks.
[2] - In a post-modern society, it is not so welcomed to talk against
various pseudosciences. Astrology, homeopathy and similar cults are
highly ranked at the fanciness scale. Fortunately, TED is pro-science,
which makes to me a field to be a little bit arrogant: If you really
care about those things, then TEDx event is not for you.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
There is one point around Greg's story about diversities between genders.

Men enjoy in playing war (with real guns, paintball, football, edit
war, argument war...). Women enjoy in playing less aggressive games.
The only games available on Wikipedia are games for men. Facebook is
different. At the basic level, there are games for everyone: men can
enjoy argument wars, women can enjoy in searching what is going on
with their people around them.

That means that we need games for women. While I think that we should
build full social network, just a basic one would help.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
After reading the post below, I have nothing to add to today's
extensive dialog about men's and women's participation, but I have
decided to block Greg Maxwell indefinitely for hate speech against
blondes.

Newyorkbrad



On 6/16/10, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:26 PM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki@gmail.com> wrote:
>> There's been discussion of the gender gap among Wikimedia editors on
>> and off for many years now, and it's a focus of the strategic planning
>> process. This is a part of a larger issue of how to get members of
>> underrepresented groups to edit more, to combat system bias on all
>> fronts. (Or, simply how to get more people to edit regardless).
>
> You may find it interesting that these kind of large imbalances can
> arise out of a simple but surprising mathematical truth:
>
> If you have a mixed population with a skill, say skateboarding, that
> follows the typical normal distribution and one sub-population (e.g.
> people with red hair) have an average performance only slight higher
> than another sub-population (blondes), and you were to select the
> best skateboarders out of the group you would end up with a
> surprisingly high concentration of the red-hair subgroup, so high that
> it doesn't at all seem justified by the small difference in average
> performance.
>
> This is is because in normal distributions the concentration of people
> with a particular skill falls off exponentially away from the average,
> so if you take the two distributions (amount of skateboarding skill
> for red-hairs and blondes) and shift one a very small amount the ratio
> between the two becomes increasingly large as you select for higher
> and higher skill levels.
>
> The same kind of results happen when, instead of a difference in
> average performance, there is simply a difference in the variation. If
> red-hairs have the same average skate-boarding skill but are less
> consistent— more klutzes _and_ more superstars this has an even larger
> impact than differences in the average, again biasing towards the
> red-hairs.
>
> These effects can be combined, and if there are multiple supporting
> skills for a task they combine multiplicatively.[*]
>
> The applicability here is clear: There is a strong biological argument
> justifying greater variance in genetically linked traits in men (due
> to the decrease in genetic redundancy) which is supported by many
> studies which show greater variance in males. So all things equal any
> time you select for extremes (high or low performing) you will tend to
> tend to end up with a male biased group. (There are small also
> differences in measured averages between men and women in many
> areas...)
>
> And many of the 'skills' that are reasonable predictions of someone's
> likelihood of being a Wikipedian, if we're even to call them 'skills'
> as many aren't all that flattering, are obviously male super-abundant
> in the greater world. How many female obsessive stamp collectors do
> you know? Male? The kind of obsessive collecting trait is almost so
> exclusively male that it's a cliché, and it's pretty obvious why that
> kind of person would find a calling in Wikipedia.
>
> One piece of insight that comes out of is that general approaches
> which make Wikipedia more palatable to "average people", as opposed to
> uber-obsessive techobibilo walking-fact-machines, may have a greater
> impact at reducing gender imbalance than female centric improvements.
> (and may also reduce other non-gender related imbalances, such as our
> age imbalance). So this gives you an extra reason why "more people to
> edit regardless" is an especially useful approach.
>
>
>
> Though are limits to the amount of main-streaming you can do of an
> academic activity such as encyclopaedia writing. :-)
>
> In any case, I don't mean to suggest that your work isn't important or
> can't be worthwhile. Only that I think you're fighting an uphill
> battle against a number of _natural_ (not human originated) biases,
> and I wish you luck!
>
>
>
> [*] A while back I wrote up a longer and highly technical version of
> this explanation as part of an argument on gender imbalances in
> computer science with a mathematician. Anyone into math-wankery may
> find it interesting:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Gmaxwell/mf_compsci
>
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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>

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Дана Saturday 19 June 2010 05:58:31 Milos Rancic написа:
> That means that we need games for women. While I think that we should
> build full social network, just a basic one would help.

Ability to make other editors your "friends", then you could watch their
Special:Contributions jointly (see what are your friends editing).

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Дана Saturday 19 June 2010 05:58:31 Milos Rancic написа:
> That means that we need games for women. While I think that we should
> build full social network, just a basic one would help.

Or perhaps we don't even have to build one, but just use the existing ones.
[People are always against making Wikipedia a social network.] Have RSS feeds
of articles you created/pictures you uploaded. These could then be connected
to Facebook or wherever for your friends to see what are you working on.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
On Sat, Jun 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM, Nikola Smolenski <smolensk@eunet.rs> wrote:
> Дана Saturday 19 June 2010 05:58:31 Milos Rancic написа:
>> That means that we need games for women. While I think that we should
>> build full social network, just a basic one would help.
>
> Or perhaps we don't even have to build one, but just use the existing ones.
> [People are always against making Wikipedia a social network.] Have RSS feeds
> of articles you created/pictures you uploaded. These could then be connected
> to Facebook or wherever for your friends to see what are you working on.

Then you are using Facebook, not Wikimedia. And Flickr is much better
for private photos than Wikimedia.

BTW, there is not space for negotiations anymore. Wikimedia will be a
social network, too, or it will continue to loose editors.

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Re: encouraging women's participation [ In reply to ]
Дана Saturday 19 June 2010 07:37:18 Milos Rancic написа:
> On Sat, Jun 19, 2010 at 7:30 AM, Nikola Smolenski <smolensk@eunet.rs> wrote:
> > Or perhaps we don't even have to build one, but just use the existing
> > ones. [People are always against making Wikipedia a social network.] Have
> > RSS feeds of articles you created/pictures you uploaded. These could then
> > be connected to Facebook or wherever for your friends to see what are you
> > working on.
>
> Then you are using Facebook, not Wikimedia. And Flickr is much better
> for private photos than Wikimedia.

Then your Facebook friends will see that you are doing interesting things on
Wikipedia projects and will want to do them too.

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